by Tanya Kowalenko, Educator and Kids on the Block Coordinator
Everyone’s talking about ‘self-care’ these days. But, what is ‘self-care’ anyway, and how do we go about doing it?
While there are many definitions of self-care, this one, written by Counselling Psychologist Raphailia Michael keeps it simple, “Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.”1
Self-care isn’t all or nothing. As C.M.H.A. Ontario says, “Self-care means taking small steps to live a healthy lifestyle every day.”2
To add to this, self-care is about honouring ourselves and our needs, and becoming aware of the things that support our well-being and make us feel good, and those that don’t. It’s also about acknowledging when we need support and asking for help.
Okay, so now that we know generally what self-care means, how does that translate into practical activities?
While some practices are generally supportive for most people, such as getting a good night’s sleep, drinking enough water and exercise, many self-care practices are less ‘one size fits all’ than that. What feels supportive for one person, for example, may not work for someone else.
Creating your own Wellness Toolbox means compiling a list of self-care practices that work specifically for you. These are things that are enjoyable and that you can do when you are starting to feel unwell. They are things that you know will help you feel better. Intention is key when doing self-care practices. In order for them to be meaningful and of maximum benefit, they need to be done with the intention to maintain or improve your wellness. It’s as simple as saying to yourself, ‘I’m doing this for my well-being.’
Of course, some will work better for certain situations than others, which is why having a bunch of tools in your toolbox is valuable. We also know that doing a combination of self-care practices is better than doing only one and that it’s important to do them when you’re feeling well, not just in times of distress. When they’re done regularly, they’ll be easier to do when you’re having a hard time.
Ready to get started? Pull out a pen and paper (or pull up a Word doc) and let’s go!
- Take a moment to think about things you know you enjoy and that feel supportive. Write those down. Make sure you include things that are simple to do.
- Now, take a look at the Wellness Toolbox created by participants of our Wellness Group. The great thing about hearing other people’s ideas for wellness tools is that it may give you tools you hadn’t thought of before. This list is meant to inspire you.
- As you go through this list, notice if there are any others that you have tried before that you know work for you. Add these to your list.
- Now, if you’re feeling adventurous, pick one or two to try out. Keeping in mind that what works for one person might not work for someone else…try them out with mindful attention for how they make you feel. If they feel good and help you to feel well, then add them to your list. If they don’t, try another!
Pretty simple, right?
Having a Wellness Toolbox handy can really help when you don’t know what to do. Post it on your wall or keep it in your wallet as a gentle reminder that have some tools in your back pocket that can help you feel better. And of course, if you need more support, reach out to a trusted health professional.
- Raphailia Michael, MA. (Aug 13 2016). What self care is – and what it isn’t. https://psychcentral.com/blog/what-self-care-is-and-what-it-isnt-2/
- CMHA celebrates international self-care day. (July 24 2017) https://ontario.cmha.ca/news/cmha-celebrates-international-self-care-day/