Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

Self-Care Isn’t Selfish

I know, I know, when you hear the term “self-care,” immediately your eyes glaze over and you’re already thinking, “But I don’t have enough ____” to do that. Insert time, money, energy, etc. into that blank. The truth of the matter, is most likely you don’t have enough of whatever it is because you aren’t prioritizing your self-care. Do you often feel tired and lethargic, like you’re running on fumes? Do you find yourself irritable, impatient, or anxious? Maybe you’re experiencing problems sleep, eating, or managing daily tasks? If you answered yes to any of these, then chances are you need to improve your self-care. The good news is it’s a lot easier than you may be thinking. Often people assume self-care is only for the rich or those who like to get mani-pedis and massages, but guess what, it’s not! Not to knock a good mani-pedi, but sometimes that just is not your cup of tea and that’s ok.  

You may also be wondering how self-care can make such a difference, but think of it this way: when you own a car, you must do regular things to take care of it, right? You need get the oil changed every 5k miles, rotate the tires, change the filter, wash it, put gas in the tank, etc. If you did not do all those things then your car would not run optimally. It also wouldn’t last very long and may end up having significantly worse issues that cost a lot more to repair than if you’d cared for it in the first place. The same goes for taking care of yourself, and I’m talking your whole self; mind, body, and
soul. Back to my car analogy, you can’t just put gas in the tank and go through the car wash and except everything to be fine, so when taking care of yourself you need to make sure to do the routine maintenance of the inner workings of you. 


“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself, and to make your happiness a priority. It’s necessary.”

— Mandy Hale

Taking care of yourself can sometimes be tough, especially if you are more of a caregiver type. You often might feel like tending to your own needs is selfish, but I’m here to tell you it’s quite the opposite. By making sure you are taking care of yourself you make it easier to be the best version of you; the best employee, best spouse, best parent, best friend, and so on. When we find ourselves spread too thin and not refilling our own gas tanks, we struggle juggling all our day-to-day responsibilities. Making self-care a priority is not selfish it’s necessary. Sometimes the best thing you can do is, “treat yo self.” 




At this point I’m sure you’re asking, “But how?” Great question! First, I think it’s good to figure out where you are starting at in your self-care journey. Take a minute to go over this self-care assessment to evaluate the areas you might need improving most.

“Caring for your body, mind, and spirit is your greatest and grandest responsibility. It’s about listening to the needs of your soul and then honoring them.”

— Kristi Ling




Now that you have a better idea and understanding of the different areas of self-care and where you need to improve, let’s explore some ways you can go about that! Note that the assessment itself provides you with some ideas too.

Physical Self-Care Ideas

“Our bodies are our garden to which our wills are gardeners.”

— William Shakespeare

  • Go for a walk or bike ride
  • Take your vitamins
  • Practice good sleep hygiene
  • Make a small change in your diet – reduce sugar/salt/caffeine, eat more veggies, drink more water
  • Practice some mindful breathing – this gets oxygen flowing 
  • Dance! Put on some of your favorite tunes and have fun
  • Stretch
  • Get outside and soak up some sunlight for at least 10 minutes
  • Have a good laugh – watch some funny YouTube videos or read a comic
  • Take a nap – you might be surprised the good a 20-30 minute power nap can do
  • Be still – allow yourself 5-10 minutes to just sit and be without any distractions
  • Be intimate with yourself – find time to appreciate your naked body and don’t be afraid to touch 😉
  • Give your body a treat – go get that pedicure or massage, or wear something soft and comfortable
  • Prioritize personal hygiene – set reminders/alert if need be
  • Try and new class – dance, yoga, martial arts; most places will have a drop-in fee. Take a friend and check it out! 

Psychological/Emotional Self-Care Ideas

  • Journal or draw
  • Do a daily gratitude list of 5-10 things
  • Finally complete that to-do list item you keep putting off
  • Unplug for 30-60 minutes
  • Push yourself out of your comfort zone, try something new!
  • Focus and pay attention to something you typically do on autopilot: brushing your teeth, eating, driving, etc. 
  • Declutter – get rid of a few clothing items or things around the house you never use.
  • Have fun! Deliberately goof around/play for at least 5 minutes (play = non-directed activity) multiple times during your day
  • Tell someone you love them
  • Read a book, listen to a podcast or watch a documentary about something interesting that maybe you’ve be curious about.
  • Take a mental break from work, school or other taxing activity. 
  • Rearrange a room in your house

Social Self-Care Ideas

  • Make plans with a friend you haven’t seen in a while
  • Plan a date night with your significant other
  • Call someone instead of texting
  • Check out a local event 

  • Host a game night
  • Bring up topics that are more stimulating
  • Write someone a letter
  • Give a friend a compliment
  • Declutter your friend list – clear out any negative people you have on your friend/follow list on social media. 
  • Ask for help

Spiritual Self-Care Ideas

 “When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”

— Jean Shinoda Bolen

  • Do a random act of kindness
  • Meditate – incorporate meditation into your daily routine. Try out a meditation app! 
  • Spend some time outside in nature, cloud watch, listen to the birds, enjoy the fresh air.
  • Go on a date with yourself – spend some quality time alone doing something that nourishes your soul
  • Home spa – take a long hot bath, give yourself a facial, lounge around in a bathrobe, or do an Epsom salt soak for your feet
  • “Treat Yo Self” – do a small splurge and get that thing you’ve been eyeing. 
  • Plan a short holiday – turn off your phone and “get away” try something new in your own town or visit somewhere within a short distance
  • Do a “Beauty Scavenger Hunt” and find 5 things you think are beautiful on your way to work 
  • Enjoy time with your pet
  • Visit a museum or art gallery 

Professional Self-Care Ideas

  • Try saying “no” to excessive responsibilities
  • Take small breaks during work
  • Leave work at work. Don’t respond to work emails or texts outside of work hours.
  • Ask for a raise or increase in PTO
  • Spruce up your workspace – update or add photos, tidy up and organize, rearrange your space, add a plant, etc. 
  • Sign up for a training related to your job
  • Ask a coworker to hang out this week and make a plan
  • Compliment a colleague
  • Update and review your planner/calendar – check in with your schedule and make sure you know what and when everything is going on over the next week or so. 

These are just some of many other ways you can tend to your self-care needs. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and try something else. You have to find what works for you. If looking at this list is overwhelming, start small. Pick 2-3 things that strike your fancy and try them this week. For some accountability, tell someone you trust what you chose to try and ask them to check-in with you at the end of the week to see how you’re doing. Hopefully you’ll start to notice small changes can make a huge difference and you don’t need to do 20 different things to start feeling better! Remember, self-care isn’t selfish, it’s necessary. You are worthy, you deserve it, so now do it. 

“With every act of self-care your authentic self gets stronger, and the critical, fearful mind gets weaker. Every act of self-care is a powerful declaration: I am on my side, I am on my side, each day I am more and more on my own side.”

— Susan Weiss Berry




Ashleigh Gabriel, LCSW


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