What Exactly Is Self-Care and Why Do I Need It?

What Exactly is Self Care and Why Do I Need It?

What is self-care?

Self care is doing something for your own health and well-being. It’s something enjoyable. It’s a way of prioritizing yourself. It’s a proactive way to manage stress and ward off anxiety and depression.

I’m part of a self-care group for therapists where we share ideas and support each other in taking good care of ourselves. The other day I shared with the group that I was eating M&M’s while mindlessly scrolling through Facebook. This may have been sort of enjoyable, but it doesn’t qualify as self-care.

Sometimes we do things (like eating M&M’s and Facebook) to make ourselves better, but they actually make us feel worse.So, no, drinking a whole bottle of wine or spending all your rent money on a new outfit, isn’t self care.

You have to find what works for you.

For some people going for a run is self-care. For others it’s more like torture. If you’re not sure what you like, experiment. Here are some idea, but the possibilities are as big as your imagination.

  • going to bed on time
  • saying “no”
  • eating fresh, healthy foods
  • connecting with others
  • playing catch with your dog
  • dancing
  • reading for enjoyment
  • knitting
  • painting
  • journaling
  • meditating
  • date night with your partner
  • doing nothing at all
  • swimming
  • burning a nice smelling candle
  • walking
  • visiting with a friend
  • seeing a movie
  • taking a class
  • playing hooky
  • listening to music
  • taking a bubble bath
  • gardening
  • seeing your therapist
  • painting your nails
  • coloring
  • taking a lunch break
  • star gazing
  • going on a weekend adventure
  • going to a religious service
  • praying
  • sitting with a purring cat in your lap

What is Self Care and Why Do I Need It?

Why do you need self care?

Some of these ideas probably sound like fun. There’s a difference between squeezing in some fun when you have time and valuing self-care.

Consider what happens when you don’t practice regular self-care: You get tired, forgetful, short-tempered, sick, unfocused. You can’t sleep. You eat too much or too little. Self-care helps keep us in balance.


I have a free self-care planning sheet that you can download here. I hope it helps you prioritize YOU.

Counseling appointments are available in my San Jose office. I’d be happy to schedule a time to help you get your life back in balance.

Make an Appointment



images: freedigitalphotos.net

Sharon Martin, a licensed counselor and psychotherapist in the San Jose area, specializes in helping adult children of alcoholics and others who struggle with anxiety, perfectionism, and self-criticism. She has a private psychotherapy practice in CA where she is available for online counseling. Sharon is also the author of The CBT Workbook for Perfectionism and write the blog Conquering Codependency for Psychology Today.


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