Self-Care: What does it mean? Why is it so difficult?

Post date: Apr 11, 2013 2:12:25 AM

Self-care can be defined as using strategies that improve our life balance so that when we face stessors, we are better equipt to handle them. That’s a mouthful! So let’s take a look at a nice image for clarification.

(image from University of Buffalo School of Social Work)

The interesting thing about self-care is that there isn’t a magic formula and you don’t have to be perfect...practicing self-care is perfect in and of itself. The first step can be difficult.


Step 1: Know Yourself

In order for self-care to be productive, it needs to be customized. That is why I really like the image above. It shows six important domains that are all interrelated to our balance and health. Yet, no two people have the exact same values and therefore, no two plans for self-care will be the same.

In my opinion, societal pressures and demands have made people lose touch with what really makes us tick as individuals. The more we pay attention to marketing and media, the more we are conditioned to believe that we don’t have what we need and want.

That is why I feel it can be difficult for people to truly know themselves, sometimes it takes disconnecting from all the toxicity around us for a while to begin to see who we really are. (In some cases, we may want the help of a professional.)


Step 2: The Six Domains

Mind - What do I need to do in order to be clear and sound in my mind?

Work (this domain includes full-time parenting and recovery time & avocations for those who are not ‘working’) - In which parts of my work do I excel and find joy?

Relationships - Who is positive support in my life? Who am I positive support for? Who are the vampires (those who just suck the life force out)?

Spirit - Am I finding ways to grow from a place of whole-heartedness? Am I authentic in the ways the I interact in the world?

Body - What am I fueling my body with? How often am I active? Have I found a physical activity that I enjoy and will make a habit?

Emotions - Do I allow myself to feel the full range of emotions? Can I identify different emotions that I am feeling (or does everything come out as anger)? Is there anyone I can safely share emotions with? Am I open to my friends and family sharing their emotions with me?


Step 3 - SLEEP (not too little, not too much)

I don’t know many people who are able to have restful, restorative sleep. I am planning a whole post on this in the future.


Step 4 - “Practice is Perfect”

Don’t be hard on yourself when things don’t immediately get better. New habits take four or more weeks to stick. Also, for each domain, you will need a few tools in your toolbox so that when one doesn’t work, you can switch it up. Being healthy is about being flexible and kind to ourselves.


Everyone can use a little more self-care in their lives. Self-care isn’t about indulgence or selfishness. Remember, we model for all of those around us; our kiddos, our friends, our family members...what gift is better than showing others how to be healthy and loving.

Thanks for reading and I hope this is helpful!