Self care may seem like a vague concept or abstract idea. If you have found yourself asking “What is self care?” don’t worry, you’ve come to the right place for answers! The reason self care can be a difficult concept to grasp is that it is different for everyone. Many self care tips don’t work every time for every person when it comes to learning to love yourself.
In this article, we’re going to narrow down the idea of self care to actionable and practical steps you can take right now. Self care and learning to love yourself is as important as, say, putting a cast on a broken arm. You wouldn’t let a broken bone heal itself, right? The same goes for learning to love yourself. Furthermore, self care for women is especially important because many times it falls to us to take care of family, or lend an ear to a friend.
Self care is important not only for yourself but for your friends and family as well. You can’t be a good friend, wife, sister, or mother if you do not practice self care. On the contrary, taking care of yourself is the most beneficial thing you can do for your family and your friends.
Self care tips and ideas are not a one-size-fits-all action. We all have different needs, wants, and personalities. There is no way to create a plan that works for everyone, all the time. What we can do, however, is create a personalized self care plan for you right now. We’ll show you steps to take to be your best self.
Self love, self-acceptance, and self care are not always easy. However, just like learning to ride a bike, it is a skill that can be taught and honed to perfection. Before you know it, you’ll be giving self care tips to your loved ones.
Where shall we start...
What is Self Care Anyway?
Before learning any self care tips, we need to answer the question, “What is self care?” Self care is, in a nutshell, how we keep ourselves mentally, emotionally, and physically healthy. Think about how you speak to a friend who is having a hard day. Self care is speaking to yourself in that same comforting, positive way. In general, it’s about being compassionate to yourself. Self care is practicing the skill of loving yourself.
How we choose to care for ourselves is how we manage our stress. Self care is a healthy coping mechanism when life gets tough. It’s the act of deliberately managing unhealthy vices and choosing better ways to deal with bad stuff that gets thrown at you.
For example, self care would be taking a walk after a stressful day at work instead of raiding the fridge and eating a pint of ice cream to soothe your frazzled nerves. It is the ability to face your worries head on and believe that you are strong enough to make positive choices to feel better. It is learning to love yourself for who you are, no matter what.
Self Care is Not Selfish
Have you ever planned a spa day or played hooky from work? Did you feel guilty after a day of self-indulgence? If you did, the first self care tip is easy—don’t feel selfish when you do things that make you feel happy, content, and relaxed.
Self care is like that often-heard phrase, “You can’t love someone else if you don’t love yourself.” Much like this idea, you cannot take care of anyone else in your life without taking the best care of yourself. That day at the spa or the spontaneous day off from work should have revitalized your spirit. It should not make you feel selfish because when you practice self care, you are proving to those you love that you intend to be around for a long time. Our loved ones want us to be happy, healthy, and sane. They want us to live long lives, filled with joy and learning to love yourself is part of that process.
Our emotional responses to self care are not always true. You may need to work on the guilt or feelings of selfishness. In fact, it has been ingrained in us that self care is an indulgent activity and therefore frivolous and selfish. The truth is there is just no way you can take care of anyone else if you aren’t taking care of yourself. This is one of the most important self care tips to keep in mind!
What Self Care Isn’t
Now you know what self care is, here’s what it isn’t. Self care is not using unhealthy coping skills to deal with stress. Remember that pint of ice cream calling your name after a long, crazy day? One self care tip for you may be that you don’t keep ice cream in the freezer. Instead, you could keep your walking shoes by the door. Let’s talk about some of the other things that self care isn’t:
Self care isn’t doing things that are “supposed” to be fun
It is doing things that are actually fun for you. You should find joy in activities outside of work and home. If you feel like you should be a part of a book club but you actually loathe the time spent reading, you are not practicing self care.
If you would rather go for a swim, surf the web, or get your nails done, you should do those things. Self care is about doing the things that truly make you feel good. It is not doing things that others expect you to enjoy regardless of your actual happiness in doing them. Be true to yourself when choosing self care activities – it’s all part of learning to love yourself!
Self care isn’t overextending yourself for others
Self care is knowing your boundaries. It is learning to say no when you mean no. Turning down plans or requests for help does not mean that you are selfish. You are telling yourself, “I am worthy of this self care” and “No is a complete sentence.”
Self care isn’t bingeing on unhealthy foods
This is unhealthy and will only lead to more unhealthy habits that do not promote self care. But, this means that instead of beating yourself up over eating a cheeseburger, you know that it’s okay to enjoy all of life’s pleasures sometimes. With this in mind, eat a cheeseburger, have an ice cream sundae, enjoy some fried foods at the fair—just don’t enjoy them every day.
Self care isn’t apathy
You don’t want to come home every day and plop in front of the couch and watch eight hours of TV while eating a bag of chips. It is important to allow yourself downtime to chill out and watch a movie or some TV. However, know your limit. Watching hours upon hours of crappy TV shows and then sleeping for 12 hours is also unhealthy.
Basically, self care is being your own best friend. Look at your actions from the outside in. What would you tell a friend whose routine included nothing but television and snack foods?
In summary, keep a healthy balance. Eat a cheeseburger, watch a movie, and then move on to more productive things that also make you happy.
Fun fact: Self care is not something that needs to be earned. Self care is a requirement. Don’t treat it as a reward.
Why is Self Care Important?
Self care means different things to different people, but the overall importance cannot be contested. Self care is beneficial in many ways. Besides learning to love yourself, here are some ways that these self care tips will benefit your life.
What is self care? Self care is like filling your own big bucket with self esteem. Treating yourself like you matter seems like a pretty basic idea. The fact is, however, we’re not always nice to ourselves. By positively talking to yourself, you send a message to your brain. That subconscious message is: “Hey, I am important, and I have value.” Lots of things in life get easier when you carry yourself in high regard, like moving ahead in your career, finding love, and even getting (and staying) healthy. These are some great self care tips to keep in mind.
When we follow self care tips and advice, we are more readily able to help others. By learning to love yourself, you learn to love your life. When you love your life, you are more open to sharing it with others. This could mean volunteering your time with the less fortunate. Maybe it means helping a friend in need. You could teach your skills to others. In fact, volunteering has been shown to increase healthy lifestyles. There are a million ways to give back to your friends, your family, and your community. By learning to love yourself, you open yourself up to inspire others with your positive attitude.
Make More Money
If you follow the self care tips that work for you, you could earn more money. One of the benefits of proper self care is increased productivity. For example, when you take care of yourself properly, you wake up every day ready to face the world and its challenges. You bop into work with a smile on your face, and you tackle every task with vigor and enthusiasm. This attitude enables such productivity which in turn can propel you forward in your career. Studies have even proven that optimism can lead to an increase in income. What better payoff to self care than an actual big payoff?
Rejuvenation and Resistance to Disease
What is self care and why is it important unless it can prevent illness? In other words, it can prevent sickness and disease. Caring for yourself truly leads to an optimistic outlook on life. Studies have proven that happiness and optimistic attitudes can, in fact, lead to a physically healthier lifestyle. In other words, being healthier can lead to less sick days from colds or the flu.
Practicing these self care tips can lead to a calm demeanor. Focusing on the good things in life will give you a positive focal point when things get hectic. When you take care of yourself properly, you’ll be able to more readily handle any kind of emergency or upset that may come your way. In other words, you’ll stay level-headed in the most important situations. You will also be a calming presence for everyone who is near you. Let’s be honest, no one wants to hang out with someone who is constantly waiting for the next freak out.
Self Care Ideas and Learning to Love Yourself
These self care tips are only a starting point on your journey to self-acceptance. Learning to love yourself is not something that magically happens overnight, unfortunately. But the good news is that it is a skill that can be learned, just like playing the flute or knitting a blanket.
For example, do you remember when you sent your very first email or browsed your first web page? It probably felt weird, unnatural, overwhelming, and a little scary. But look at you now! You’re a pro at email correspondence, and you can surf with the best of them like it’s second nature. These self care ideas might feel the same at first, but if you practice them every day, they will become as natural as loading up your inbox.
1. Eat healthily
Out of all the self care tips, this one seems pretty obvious. Eat foods that make you feel energetic and focused. Filling your body with good fuel sets you up for success in all other aspects of self care. This self care tip is at the top of the list particularly because it is one of the most important self care ideas—you are what you eat! Here is a short list of some of the best fruits and veggies to keep in your kitchen.
- Mushrooms—high in fiber and protein
- Avocado—rich in good fats and vitamins
- Dark Chocolate—high in antioxidants and delicious
- Green Peas—super nutritious and convenient
- Broccoli—a superfood filled to the brim with vitamins and antioxidants
- Beets—naturally sweet and can juice can be used in many dishes
- Acorn Squash—high in Vitamin C and potassium
Or at the very least, move around every day. Physical activity is the other self care tip that you do not want to pass up. Science has shown us that a lack of physical activity can lead to chronic disease. It’s actually a major factor in whether or not you will have a chronic disease. In short, physical activity is the primary prevention against things like obesity, diabetes, stroke, and a whole long list of other diseases.
Conversely, if you don’t like to dance, practice yoga, go for a swim, ride a bike, or play with your pets for an hour every day. Doing something that you enjoy is one way to be sure it remains a part of your life forever. Self care should keep you healthy mentally and physically. Meanwhile, here are some other physical activities you might enjoy.
- Playing sports (basketball, baseball, dodgeball, tennis)
- Pole dancing
- Rock Climbing
- Visiting an amusement park
Fun Fact: Did you know that the oldest form of dancing is belly dancing? Beginning 6,000 years ago, belly dancing was a form of worship to the goddesses, performed for women, by women. It was also meant to prime a woman’s body for giving birth by exercising the abdominal muscles.
3. Curse Your Way to Happiness
Did you know that there have been scientific studies that prove dropping the F-bomb actually makes us feel better? Yep, it’s absolutely true! This is one of the more surprising self care ideas, but cursing has been actually shown to lessen pain. Maybe don’t shout obscenities in the middle of Target but giving a good yip of vulgarity when you burn your hand in the kitchen should help lessen the pain of the burn. Give it a try next time you stub your toe. It’ll feel good, really!
4. Get Sexy
Sexual health and sexual satisfaction have been linked to a better quality of life. So obviously, it’s time to get it on! Sex as a part of self care can ultimately raise your self-esteem, make you feel attractive, and help you feel closer to a loved one. This has to be one of the best self care ideas out there!
5. Clean Up Clutter
Sometimes a messy house makes for a messy brain. By taking a few minutes every day to pick up just a few things, you’ll start to feel more organized and in control of not only your household but your life. In general, by decluttering your house of old bric-a-brac and items that simply take up room, you’ll make more room for the things that matter. Additionally, you’ll also be more organized after purging the junk.
6. Bonus Self Care Tips: Be Your Own Best Friend
If all else fails, pretend that you are talking to a friend or relative when you notice that you are beating yourself up. Eventually, that negative voice will automatically be kind and positive when things don’t go as well as you’d hoped. But it will take some patience and some work on your part. In other words, you have to actively remind yourself every day that you are your own best friend and that is how you will speak to yourself.
Try it right now. Repeat this phrase: “I am a good person, even when I mess things up. I am going to be kind to myself no matter what. You can’t stop me, negativity!” Write this down and post it up somewhere you will see it frequently. Say it to yourself every time to you walk by it. It may seem silly compared to other self care ideas, and it may even get boring and repetitive, but at some point, you’ll realize that the positive voice and ideas have taken over without you even noticing.
What is Self Care For You?
Now that we’ve listed off a few self care tips, how do you know which ones are right for you?
First, choose the realistic things you can do every day. You’ll want to be able to incorporate these self care ideas into your life easily so that you can make them part of your everyday routine. Think of small things like packing a bunch of berries for a snack at work every day instead of buying chips from a vending machine. To demonstrate, here are a few other small self care ideas to get you started.
- Make a plan to get a little sunshine every day
- Eat one serving of vegetables on purpose
- Write down a new mantra and say it at least three times a day
- Look in the mirror and tell yourself you are worthy of love
- Drink at least a few glasses of water
- Stretch for 5-10 minutes
- Sit in silence for 10 minutes and contemplate your day
These self care tips are small enough to include in your daily routine, no matter how busy you are. They are little ideas that will make a huge difference.
Second, ask yourself what kind of self care you need right now. There are a lot of self care ideas floating around, but in order to choose what you need the most right now, break it down.
Do you need to focus on physical, mental, or emotional self care? If it’s physical, take note of the physical self care tips. Dancing, taking a walk, eating more fruits and veggies. If it’s emotional, think of the ways to connect with others and with yourself in a more spiritual way. These are things like volunteering, meditating, and having sex. If it’s mental, think of ways to focus all your energy inward with relaxation, space to be alone, and self-reflection.
Third, in order for these self care tips to benefit you the most, they need to be activities that actually benefit you, not anyone else. You can say no, and remember that self care is not a reward, it’s a necessity.
Conclusion: Ready to Start Loving Yourself?
Visualize yourself as a healthy, happy, balanced person. You can start incorporating these self care tips immediately. And if you slip up, it’s vital that you do not beat yourself up. The thing is, everyone has and will slip up. We’re only human. The most important part of a slipup is NOT the slip up, it’s how we treat ourselves after the deed is done. Learning to love yourself is a process that takes time, so be patient with yourself.
These self care ideas should put you on the path to self-love and acceptance. Know when to say no and know when you need a break. Loving yourself is not selfish. You need to take care of yourself to remain healthy and happy for yourself and your loved ones. Start today, and you will never look back!
-  “Volunteering and health benefits in general adults: cumulative effects and forms” NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5504679/
-  “Optimism.” NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4161121/
-  “Optimism and Its Impact on Mental and Physical Well-Being” NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2894461/
-  “Lack of exercise is a major cause of chronic diseases” NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4241367/
-  “Which is the oldest dance form?” The Times of India https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Which-is-the-oldest-dance-form/articleshow/4449656.cms
-  “Swearing as a Response to Pain—Effect of Daily Swearing Frequency” The Journal of Pain. https://www.jpain.org/article/S1526-5900(11)00762-0/pdf
-  “Sexual Satisfaction and the Importance of Sexual Health to Quality of Life Throughout the Life Course of US Adults” NCBI. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5075511/
Chandi Gilbert is a blogger and professional introvert. She has been a freelance writer since 2016, and her work has been featured on Contena, Wag, and Harness Magazine, among others. She is a member of the Freelancer’s Union and a Columbia College Alumni. She lives in Ohio with her husband and dogs who pull double duty as creative directors and heads of security. She writes blogs that help others feel better about themselves, and mentors beginner freelancers in their journeys.