Often when we think of Self Care we imagine spa days, being lazy, taking a break from regular life, and applying luxurious skin products while drinking delicious warm tea or coffee. It all sounds a bit decadent and often it seems out of reach. So, let’s look a little deeper at what self care really is and why it’s important.

The Definition

If you google self care, you’ll find a definition like ‘the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health’ or ‘the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.’ While this makes sense, it’s pretty vague and how can you tell if what you’re doing is actually self care?

I think now that we’re more familiar with the idea of self care in general, it’s time for an updated take on this concept. The definition I prefer is: ‘the ability to care for oneself through awareness, self-control, and self-reliance in order to achieve, maintain, or promote optimal health and well-being.’

When we look at self care we want to think about how we can establish behaviors to ensure holistic well-being of oneself, to promote health, and actively manage illness when it occurs. We each engage in some form of self-care daily with food choices, exercise, sleep, and hygiene. Self-care includes all the things you do to take care of your well-being in four key dimensions – your emotional, physical, psychological, and spiritual health. For right now, let’s just start by looking at our physical health.

Caring for Your Body

Maintaining our health often sounds like loosing the extra weight, exercising regularly, drinking water, and avoiding things that damage our health like alcohol, sugar, and processed foods. But here is where we begin to see the connections of body and mind because stress has a huge impact on our health.

From impacting our immune system, digestion, heart rate and blood pressure, to creating imbalances in our cognitive abilities, sleep patterns, and mood we know that stress plays a vital part in our health. So, while it is self care to make strides in having a healthy body it’s also self care to do anything that lowers your stress.

And this is what makes self care so personal and unique to each of us. Because some days self care will look like eating a salad for lunch, going for a run, or writing in your journal. Other days self care will look like cleaning your home, going to the dentist, managing your finances, or completing whatever task has been festering in the back of your brain forever.

So stress less, be healthier!