What IS Self-Care Anyway?

Written by Dr. Hannah Webb, BSc, ND

I believe self-care is an ESSENTIAL practice. But, what is it, really? Is it feeding yourself vegetables, going to bed on time, and exercising regularly? A beach holiday in Mexico and a regular schedule of mani-pedi’s?

To me self-care is no one particular thing, but rather the quality of a particular action. It is in its essence a practice of deep presence with yourself. It is you compassionately tending to you, in a mood and manner of sweetness, care, and generosity.

You could lovingly prepare and eat a beautiful local organic dinner as a gift to yourself, or, you could make and eat the same meal but out of judgement or fear (of gaining weight, for example). This is the same action but done with a completely different quality. And it is this quality that is important.

How do you know if you need self-care? Well, if you are a human living in the world, you probably need it. If you notice yourself constantly reaching for distractions in an obsessive and addictive manner, you probably need it. If you feel anxious, depressed, or dissociated from yourself, those are all indicators that you need some self-care.

Conversely, you may have indicators of when you are doing WELL. For me, this is my level of spontaneous generosity. If I am feeling over-worked and overwhelmed, I collapse inward and hold my resources tightly. If I am effortlessly selfless and freely giving, I know my cup is full and I am deeply well.

Self-care requires slowing down. Stopping. Being present with yourself. Gently listening. Feeling. Noticing. Allowing your body to relax and release. And this can take many different forms. What does it mean for YOU to conscientiously step away and give yourself the gift of time and space? Its really not about any specific action, but rather finding what works for YOU and bringing the quality of self-care to whatever it is you choose. Dance, sing, laugh, eat ice cream, hold hands. Nourish yourself.

Know that it is easier to talk the talk than walk the walk. Ask yourself: what, if anything, do I do as an act of love for myself? One of the things I do with my patients is my version of a wellness wheel to help them create a visual guide to the unique categories they identify as essential to self-care. For example, this could include: body care, rest, movement, connection,

touch, intellectual stimulation, creative

expression, and sexuality. This helps to identify areas where there is room for improvement.

Why do self-care? We do it to become closer to who we are. To be able to understand ourselves and our needs better. To become integrated and whole as human beings. To be able to feel ourselves fully, know our emotions, and learn how to express ourselves with balance and integrity. To be able to serve meaningfully, in whatever realm we choose.