When it comes to your mental health, self-care can help you manage stress, reduce your risk of getting sick, and increase your energy. Even small acts of self-care in daily life can have a big impact. Self-care is everything you do to take care of yourself and stay well physically, mentally and emotionally. Its benefits are better physical, mental and emotional health and well-being.
Research suggests that self-care promotes positive health outcomes, such as building resilience, living longer and being better prepared to manage stress. Self-care is important for maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself. It means doing things to take care of our minds, bodies and souls by participating in activities that promote well-being and reduce stress. Doing so improves our ability to live fully, vibrantly and effectively.
The practice of self-care also reminds you and others that your needs are valid and priority. Paula Gill Lopez, PhD, associate professor and director of the Department of Psychological and Educational Consultation at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, says that the need to take care of yourself is obvious. At Everyday Health, self-care is about taking steps to address your physical and emotional health needs in the best possible way. There's no way to say exactly what counts as self-care, because each person's definition is their own and unique.
As personal care has become more widespread, definitions have begun to become more applicable to the general public and tend to focus on adapting to and satisfying one's needs. That's why, at Everyday Health, self-care is all the steps you take to take care of your physical and emotional health in the way you can best. With the increase in mental health problems (rates of depression alone tripled during the COVID-19 pandemic), you or someone you know may need support. It may seem indulgent, but if the activity helps you to de-stress and set aside time for yourself, it counts as personal care, Amsellem says.
It's important that you understand what your limits are and that you calibrate them if necessary to properly care for your mental and emotional health. Taking care of your mental well-being doesn't always seem as simple as meeting the physical needs of nutrition, hydration and hygiene. Finding a personal means of self-care is important to help you maintain overall positive mental health. Even if you can't spend a lot of time and money, Gill Lopez says you can practice self-care several times a week if you turn the things you do every day into self-care practices.
By this definition, self-care includes everything related to staying physically healthy, including hygiene, nutrition, and seeking medical attention when needed. With a self-care routine that brings you joy, you'll get the benefits of a healthier mind and body. But, as Bonnie adds, once you get into the habit of scheduling time to practice self-care techniques, it gets easier. When you think of different self-care activities to try, think about these dimensions of your life and how you can improve them.