What is self-care?

Taking care of our mental health allows us to show up as the best version of ourselves and know when it's time to hit the pause button.

Why self-care?

Between school, work, and other commitments, it can be hard to focus on yourself throughout the week. But setting aside downtime, creative time, and time for exercise and reflection is crucial to helping you feel your best, and accomplishing all those other items on your to-do list. 

It’s important to remember that self-care shouldn’t feel like a chore, it should feel restorative. It can be as simple as taking a few seconds throughout the day to pause and sense your breath, sitting to mindfully eat a nourishing meal, taking a 15 minute rest or walk outside in the afternoon, or spending a few minutes with your pet. By taking just a few minutes for yourself regularly, you can limit your stress and acquire new tools that help you feel your best.

Self-care image - not realistic to be happy all the time

How to practice self-care 

Taking time to destress isn’t always easy. Self-care is a practice, and it takes time to become a habit. We’ve aggregated a list of coping tools and self-care ideas that can be easily incorporated into your day-to-day life to keep you feeling strong and stress free. 

  • Connect. Spend time -- whether IRL or online -- with someone who makes you laugh or inspires you. Furry friends are great for this, too. 

  • Nutrition & rest. Your diet plays just as important of a role in your mental health well-being as does being active. Strive to eat a nutritious meal every day and get enough sleep every night. 

  • Stay creative. If you love to dance, create art, sing, or anything else that gets your creative juices flowing -- embrace it! There are endless ways in which to get your creativity going, while feeling your best. 

  • Get active. Play a sport, stretch, take an exercise or yoga class, or even just go out for a walk surrounded by nature. 

  • Take a deep breath (or 10). Sometimes the best thing to do is just pause and focus on your breathing. If you’re feeling anxious, try exhaling longer than your inhale (count to 4 on the inhale, 8 on the exhale). If you’re feeling low energy, try synching your breath with movement: With a large inhale, reach your arms to the sky and stand on your tip toes. Then let your exhale out with a big sigh, as you bend toward your  

  • Disconnect. This one might be tough, but putting away your phone and turning off your computer can work remarkably well to help you decompress. Take a break from anything with a screen, especially in the hour before bed. 

  • Hobbies. What do you like to do and what makes you feel good? Whether it’s drawing, listening to music, or reading a book, partake in hobbies that keep you excited.

  • Reflect. Are you feeling anxious? Take 10 minutes of dedicated “worry time” each day to keep a healthy perspective on what is in and out of your control right now, and limit the time we spend worrying throughout the day. Seek help if you need it. 

Still looking for more tips on self-care? Check out this Buzzfeed video that highlights a few different self-care routines.

Benefits of self-care

The benefits of self-care are more than just taking a pause. Scientific research shows that regularly practicing self-care is directly linked to increased physical wellbeing, emotional health, and boosts the body’s immune system. 

When you practice activities that help you destress, the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) is put into a ‘rest and restore’ mode to give your body a chance to decompress. The PNS manages functions of our body like rest, healing, and how we respond to stress. It helps our body stay calm during our day-to-day life. By regularly practicing self-care, you enable your body to rebalance the PNS and ensure it’s always at equilibrium. Ultimately, self-care promotes positive health outcomes and enhanced resilience. 

More self-care resources

The Strong365 team is dedicated to helping you build strength in the face of tough times. Here are a few more self-care resources to help you stay strong.