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What is Self-Care and how do I do it?

Discussion forum for parents in Australia

What is Self-Care and how do I do it?

Super contributor

What is Self-Care and how do I do it?

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Self-care is a term that gets used a lot, especially here in ReachOut Parents, but what does it actually mean?

Basically, self-care is any activity that you do voluntarily which helps you maintain your physical, mental or emotional health. It can help you feel healthy, relaxed and ready to take on your work and responsibilities. (read more here)

And how do you do it?


Well, there are as many answers to that as there are people. It's different for everyone. Some people replenish themselves by listening to music and others absolutely need silence. It's basically doing something that's just for you. Something you enjoy, during which you are not required to 'give away' any energy. Which raises the issue of 'giving back' or volunteering. I would argue that these are awesome things and if you are willing and able, then go for it. But they are not self-care. In fact, most volunteers are encouraged to self-care after they volunteer because it takes a lot out of them. So don't mistake things that make you feel like you're doing good for self-care.


So this list is a decent start. It might help you shift your perspective a little so you can allow yourself the time and space to self-care. Because taking 20 minutes to meditate or have a bath is counter-productive if you spend the time; telling yourself you're wasting this time, going over and over what you 'should' be doing instead or organising whatever is happening later. No multi-tasking!


Don't worry if you draw a blank when trying to think of ways to self-care. This list has some practical suggestions, specifically for parents. Some of them are definitely easier to say than do but that's when this community can help. If you're so stressed it's impossible for you to work out how to make time for yourself, check in here with other parents to see what worked for them. Don't ever be afraid to ask here for what you need.


Seeso self love self care love yourself thingstarter

Frequent scribe

Re: What is Self-Care and how do I do it?

Self Care can be hard to do, but it is essential.  When in crisis it is difficult to even think of self care.  The world as you know it, can suddenly stop, and as a parent you can be thrust into nightmare situations that you never imagined you would be in, ever.... In these sort of circumstances, self care is very far from your thoughts, the most you can do may be to try to distract yourself for half an hour watching mindless TV.


It took one of my other children saying "Not you too, Mum" , this was enough to wake me up to the fact that my family needed me.... needed me to be able to operate in this new type of life... needed me to cope.  So I came out of my "blind funk" and started to get the help I needed to be able to help my family.


I'm sure there are lots of people who deal with crisis better than I did, but I try not to judge myself too harshly, I was in shock and just trying to process what had happened, it is what you do next that really matters.  So my advice is GET HELP, don't let your pride get in the way, Do what you have to do so that you can act as a fairly sane person in a really tough situation. 


Then, if you can, when you can, learn to laugh. Laugh at the scary, crazy things you now have to do.  Find the humour in the tough stuff, we don't often see it this way, but humour makes you brave.


Super star contributor

Re: What is Self-Care and how do I do it?

Self care for me is doing something for me, purely for me, with permission to cut off from the stresses around me, if only for 10 minutes to sit outside with a cup of tea.


I agree with @Ngaio-RO's comment that doing things for others that make us feel good, is not actually self care - we are still giving to others. I think that is more 'purpose', which is still important for our wellbeing, but different to self care. Giving to ourselves is what constitutes self care for me. Being our own best friend for a little while.


I like to potter around in my garden, write, call a friend, meditate, colour in, do my nails or watch a movie are some examples of my self care. Being grateful for something each day I find makes my self care easier.











Super contributor

Re: What is Self-Care and how do I do it?

Hey @taokat


Giving to ourselves is what constitutes self care for me. Being our own best friend for a little while.


That is a perfect way to describe self-care. And I love how many layers there are to it.

One of the best ways to support someone to start treating themselves better is to ask them "What would you say to your best friend / partner / teenager if s/he were in this situation?"


The responses are invariably full of compassion and understanding yet their self-talk is full of blame and accusation.


Being your own best friend for a while is a great gift to give yourself, especially at a time when your actual friends are not being so helpful.

Active scribe

Re: What is Self-Care and how do I do it?

I loved your post. Humour does make you brave.

I too felt overwhelmed at things that occurred in our family and close extended family (all health related) and when my health was involved it added to the load. 

i learnt that laughter and looking at the funny side of some things really helped. It did not take it away but i felt a slightly lighter load. 

Also time is a great strengthener as you go through things you realize how incredibly capable you are.

I take the time now for me- exercise (always a walk near the ocean), coffee with a friend, and special time with my husband separate from day to day routines. it all helps. 

I also get my family to talk about 'three best things' so that the negative thoughts/happenings are trumped by positive if possible.