• Linda Nguyen

Seven Myths About Self-Care



What is self-care?

Self-care is any activity or task that manages stress and promotes overall wellbeing. For most of us, the first image that comes to mind is pampering ourselves and indulging in our pleasures. However, self-care is much more than that. It can be anything that either improves or maintains your physical, mental and emotional health. Self-care is truly about spending time attending to our own needs.


There are many benefits to practicing self-care, including:

  • Promoting physical and mental wellbeing

  • Managing and reducing stress

  • Improving mood

  • Developing the ability to cope

  • Building resilience

  • Increases productivity and motivation

  • Preventing emotional burn-out

  • Improving relationship and capacity to care for others

  • Boosting self-confidence and self-esteem

What are some myths around self-care?

  1. Self-care is selfish This is one of the most common myths. We all have responsibilities to attend to and people who depend on us. Self-care can feel selfish because it feels like we are taking away from our time for others. For some, this can even create feelings of guilt. The truth is when we attend to our needs and nourish our wellbeing, we can be more present for both ourselves and others. In a way, engaging in self-care is a great way to show up for others.

  2. Self-care is a luxury. Self-care, in itself, is a 10-billion dollar industry. We are constantly bombarded with the idea that we need to spend money to feel fulfilled. Self-care does not have to be day-spas and luxury vacations. Self-care does not have to be spending money on expensive products. While there is nothing wrong with indulging in something special that makes you feel good. There is no single purchase that can substitute genuinely taking care of yourself. Many of the activities listed above require little to no money.

  3. Self-care is earned Self-care is not something you have to work for. It is not a reward for self-sacrifice. Self-care is not a reward for getting enough things done. You inherently deserve self-care. Do not think of self-care as a “treat” for yourself. You deserve it.

  4. Self-care is optional. Neglecting your needs can lead to long term consequences of burnout, depression, compulsive behaviours. The more you practice self-care, the easier it becomes. Self-care is a way to replenish your energy reserves. Self-care is an opportunity to show yourself some compassion. By attending to your needs, you will feel more relaxed, balanced and grounded.

  5. Self-care takes too much time and effort. Depending on how busy your schedule is, creating time for self-care can feel challenging. The truth is any amount of self-care is better than none at all. The time you dedicate to self-care is entirely up to you. You do not need to devote a day or even an hour. If you only have 5-10 minutes: -Engage in a breathing exercise. -Write in a journal. -Drink a warm beverage. -Send a quick text message. 15-30 minutes: -Incorporate movement such as walk, dance, exercise. -Cook a good meal -Have a bath -Take a nap

  6. Self-care is anything that makes you feel good. Some things may feel good in the immediate moment but can be damaging in excess or over-time. It is essential to be aware of these behaviours and not be overly consumed by them. Examples include eating junk food, smoking and drinking alcohol. Other less apparent behaviours include excess media consumption, gaming, or sleeping. If you find yourself relying on these methods, consider reassessing and substituting more healthier alternatives.

  7. Self-care is always fun and exciting. Certain self-care activities can be tedious and may even feel like a chore. Some examples include planning, organizing, and preparing. It is essential to view this as self-care for your future self. You are investing a bit of time now to make things easier later on. What can it look like: -Keeping a calendar and making to-do lists. -Meal planning or meal prepping. -Pick out your clothes for the next day. -Automating your finances for bills payment and savings. -Scheduling and attending health-related appointments


What are the dimensions of self-care?

Physical self-care:

  • Incorporating movement into your daily routine: walking, running, yoga, weight lifting, dancing, playing sports.

  • Having well-balanced nutritious meals: grocery shopping, meal planning, meal prepping.

  • Getting enough quality sleep. For adults, usually between 7-9 hours. For children and teens, generally between 8-13 hours.

  • Keeping up with medical care, including dental and optical when appropriate.

  • Taking prescribed medication or supplements

Emotional self-care:

  • Writing in a journal.

  • Practicing self-compassion

  • Attending therapy or counselling

  • Taking time to rest

  • Engage in a hobby or activity you enjoy

  • Taking a break from your phone

Social self-care:

  • Scheduling time alone

  • Have social time with others

  • Sending a text or calling someone

  • Develop and maintain supportive relationships with others

Spiritual self-care:

  • Engaging in faith-based activities

  • Practicing mindfulness

  • Spending time in nature

Many activities will overlap with multiple dimensions. For example, exercise is not only physically beneficial. It can serve as a form of emotional self-care. Exercising can reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms and improve self-esteem. When it comes to the specific activities or tasks to do for self-care, it can look different for everyone. For instance, An activity that we find to be restorative can be draining for someone else. It is important to choose self-care activities that you enjoy and that make you feel good.


Summary:

  • Self-care is any activity that manages stress and improves your overall well-being.

  • Benefits of self-care include: better physical and emotional health, stress reduction, increased productivity and motivation, better relationships, and boosting self-confidence.

  • There are multiple dimensions of self-care: physical, emotional, social and spiritual.

  • Self-care isn’t selfish. By taking care of yourself first, it will allow you to be more present for others.

  • Self-care isn’t a luxury. You do not need to spend any money to engage in self-care

  • Self-care isn’t earned. You are inherently deserving of self-care

  • Self-care isn’t optional. Self-care is essential to physical and emotional health.

  • Self-care isn’t time-consuming. You only need to spend a few minutes.

  • Self-care isn’t just anything that feels good. Some pleasurable activities can be damaging, especially in excess or over time.

  • Self-care isn’t always exciting, especially when you are caring for your future self.



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