What is Self Care? 5 Simple Steps to get Started!

One of the most commonly topics I discuss with my clients is self care.

In simple terms the definition of self care is to be kind to yourself and make time to do things that you like to do, no matter how simple they may be.

Here are 5 simple examples of self care to get you started. Once you understand the concept there will be no limit to what you would consider “self care” and how you adapt your behaviour to make it a regular part of your routine.

Self Care Step #1 - Balance out your day

If you have a particularly busy day planned then do not add extra chores to that day.

Make an easy dinner, get take out or pull something out of the freezer.

Watch your favourite show on TV that night or plan something you look forward to as part of that busy day. Even if it is just getting a coffee from your favourite cafe and spending 10 minutes drinking it.

Balancing out your day is all about just making some time, meaningfully, to do something that you really want to do, no matter how small it may seem.

Self Care Step #2 - Do not over-book yourself

This is a big one for people to get, but a very important one!

Do not be afraid to say no when someone asks you to do something.

Similarly, if you have plans but you know you have had a particularly stressful time lately, then do not be afraid to reschedule if you know you need some time out.

Self Care Step #3 - Be kind to yourself

Interestingly, most people are a lot nicer to other people than they are to themselves.

Talk to yourself the same way you would talk to your best friend, or perhaps even a child. Be kind to yourself. Be supportive and compassionate.

This one takes practice, but just keep resetting every time you find you are not being as nice to yourself as you would be to other people.

Self Care Step #4 - Have things to look forward to

A big part of life and feeling positive is about having things to look forward to.

These can be big things, like a family holiday, however they can also be much smaller things that can help you get through a stressful day.

In Self Care Example #1 we talked about balancing out your day, this is a similar concept but it is more about triggering those feelings of positivity around having a particularly fun activity or treat that you have planned for the short or long term future.

This could be something you do at the end of the day, like going for a run or enjoying a glass of wine, or on the weekend where you are planning to catch up with friends or family.

Self Care Step #5 - Know what you need

This is the most important of the 5 steps to getting started with Self Care, but it can also be the hardest.

This step is about knowing yourself well enough to know what you need, not necessarily taking the easy option and labeling it as “Self Care”.

Let’s take some examples we have already used. If after a stressful day all you want to do is come home and sit on the couch, but you know deep down that by doing that you will stay in the same mood, then you know yourself well enough to know that going to the gym or going for a run is the ticket to shifting yourself out of that mood and will ultimately be what will make you feel better.

This is about pushing yourself to take the right option towards self care and not the easy option.

Similarly if you know that having one glass of wine will turn into 4 glasses of wine and you will feel horrible the next day, then you know yourself well enough to choose something else.

Or perhaps you want to cancel plans you have, but you also know that seeing your friend will actually help stop you thinking about work, or other stresses and will ultimately leave you feeling happier after you catch up, then again you take the option that is right for you and push yourself to go knowing it is for the greater good.