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Self-Care as an Essential Practice

Learning the Selflessness of Self-Care

Written by Hannah Chism


“Self-Care” is a buzz word within our culture. But what does it really mean anyway? The title in and of itself connotes a sense of individualism. The term often holds a negative stigma, as it is frequently correlated to other similar sounding words, such as, “self-centered” or “selfish.” However, self-care enables us to be more selfless. By taking care of oneself, one is able to give back to others. By stepping away and recharging one’s battery, one is able to steward the resources and relationships one has been entrusted with. Consider it this way, if all we do is work harder and harder, then we become flatter, hardened, bitter, burnt out, and moody individuals. Whereas, if we incorporate healthy doses of self-care into the menu, we become a little lighter and more refreshing to be around. Part of being a well-rounded individual is knowing when to step away and recharge.


            Self-care does not just happen or appear out of thin air. Self-care requires intentionality. So often we are caught up in the busyness and minutiae of life. It becomes increasingly more difficult to step away. However, for the sake of ourselves and our loved ones, we must find a balance between hard-work and self-care. The reality is this will look different for everyone. Within this, some do not find self-care difficult, as they overindulge in this practice and find it difficult to consider others. While others turn their nose up at the concept of self-care as they associate it with frivolous and self-centered living. Again, there is a balance between the two.


In order to strike that balance, one must plan times to recharge and recenter. I know, some gawk at the irony and idea of planning self-care as it sounds counter-intuitive; those individuals likely do not struggle with incorporating self-care into their lives as it is interwoven into the fabric of their lifestyle. However, most of us, must intentionally carve out time to rejuvenate our souls.


As has been made evident thus far, self-care does not look the same for everyone. As such, self-care requires knowing what personal practices are life-giving and rejuvenating. This requires trial and error, self-awareness, and reflective processing. One must discover what feeds one’s soul. Within this, activities that are life-giving may change season to season, as we are dynamic people. It is frustrating and discouraging when one’s previous forms of adored activities, no longer hold that place in their hearts. But just as life circumstances change, so do we. Thus, if jogging was a favorite past-time activity when one was younger yet loses its luster as one ages due to physical limitations, margin in one’s schedule, or other life circumstances, this can be disorienting and depleting on so many levels. Thus, it is necessary to re-access and essential to recalibrate in order to find a new outlet that refreshes one’s soul.


Self-care requires planning and self-awareness. There are many ways to approach incorporating self-care into your lifestyle; your approach depends on your personality.

  • Discover the actual practices that feed your soul.
    • If the practice of self-care is completely new to you and you have no idea what is rejuvenating, then:
      • Google “self-care activities” (visit this link for some ideas).
      • Select activities that sound appealing.
      • Practice these ideas and see what fits!
  • Compile all of the congruent self-care practices into a list, journal, mind-map (watch this video to find out more), menu, or spreadsheet.
  • Put an estimated duration next to each activity (e.g.: running = 1 hour; 5 minutes to get changed, 5-minute drive to path, 45 minutes running, and 5-minute drive home).
    • This step is essential. Due to busy schedules, longer self-care activities may not fit into one’s daily practices; thus, it is important to have options that require less time. A few examples of smaller self-care practices include: drinking a cup of coffee, eating a nutritious meal, a moment of sunshine, or brushing one’s teeth. These small acts can make a huge difference in one’s day – offering one a chance to feel human again and less stifled or stagnant.
  • The next, and likely the most important step, is to create a self-care plan. This plan is the intentional part of incorporating self-care practices into one’s lifestyle; this plan serves as a measure of accountability in striking a balance in one’s life. This plan must be personal, measurable, and attainable (visit this link for information on developing SMART goals).
    • Create a table.
      • The headers in the columns titled as follows: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually.
      • Reflect on the list, menu, spreadsheet, etc. that you created in step 2.
        • Consider how frequently you need each activity in your life. For example, if you are the healthiest version of yourself when you journal daily; this likely needs to be included in your “daily” column. However, if driving to the mountains is an activity that you only need a few times a year, then this may be a “quarterly” activity.
      • Input each self-care activity into the appropriate column, based on the amount you need/desire the activity in your lifestyle.
      • Example:
Daily Weekly Monthly Quarterly Annually
Coffee Yoga Date night Weekend mountain trip Christmas at home
Sunshine Dining out Happy hour w/girlfriends Cook dinner for friends Attend a hockey game
Walk Movie Bike ride Day of solitude Weeklong vacation

If you desire to be extra detailed, you could add a column under each frequency of duration (e.g.: 10 minutes) and/or quantity (e.g.: x2).

  • Accountability
    • It may be necessary to put these activities into your calendar with reminders for each.
    • If you are a parent or partner, you may also need to coordinate childcare/domestic responsibilities in order to integrate self-care practices into your family’s lifestyle. This will likely require sacrifice in some areas, which can often be the make it or break it point of integrating self-care practices. However, it is important to keep in mind that the outcome likely outweighs the cost – that you are likely the best version of yourself when you are recharged rather than burnt out. This means that you cannot be perfect at everything, but that you can be more well-rounded. Within this, you may find that you are more intentional and present in relationships and work, when you are practicing the balance between hard work and self-care; thus, making you a more productive individual.
    • Share your self-care plan with a close friend and invite them to keep you accountable in a way that feels supportive for you.

If you care for those around you, want to excel in your career, and desire to live a more well-rounded life, then integrate self-care into your lifestyle. You will be a more productive member of society and more personable individual. You will be happier too! Self-care is an excellent way to manage stress and anxiety by increasing coping skills. It can also decrease one’s depressive feelings, by providing hope, perspective, and enjoyment! While the sacrifices may be difficult initially, it will be worth it in the end. This is why it is so important to have a menu of self-care practices to choose from that range from 5 minutes to 60 minutes to week-long ventures. Refueling your soul, refuels the souls of others! This life is far too short and difficult to not intentionally take moments to step away and recenter.