Self-care: indulgence or essential?

Self-care: indulgence or essential?

Many of us have been brought up with the idea that taking care of ourselves in any way but the most basic healthy eating and exercise is selfish. We should think of others first. We should take care of our kids, our community, our church, our friends, our coworkers, our pets before indulging ourselves. The list of priorities goes on and on. Where do we put taking care of ourselves? Self-care often winds up at the very end of the list…the place where we never arrive.

What we really need are what Nikisha Brunson, co-founder of Urban Bush Babes describes as “everyday healthy rituals that help keep your body and mind energized.” For one person it might mean spending an hour each day knitting, for another reading, for yet another a soothing bubble bath. Each of us is different except for that one outstanding issue: we need to care for ourselves to maintain the energy we need to care for others.

Yoga Class Self-CareSelf-care is not just for the self-indulgent “women who do lunch.” It is for every one of us. It is crucial to finding peace of mind and to finding what is needed within ourselves to give back in this uncertain and often scary world.

Self-care is especially important in times of grief. It is easy to bury oneself in the details that crop up when you have experienced a loss. The following exercises are excerpted from Griefwork: Healing from Loss by Fran Zamore, LISW, IMFT, and Esther R.A. Leutenberg. They are applicable to all of us, whether we are experiencing a loss or just experiencing our day-to-day life.

Are you doing enough for yourself? Download “Self-care Domains” and keep it handy. During the next couple of weeks fill in what you do for yourself in each of the five domains: Physical, spiritual, social, emotional, and intellectual. You will find that many activities are applicable to more than one domain.

Here are some examples:

Going to exercise class

  • Physical because it is good for my body and my health
  • Social because I have friends and/or acquaintances in the class
  • Emotional because I release some anger and/or frustration when I exercise


  • Physical because of health benefits
  • Spiritual because I walk in nature and find that to be my spiritual connection
  • Emotional because walking is a stress-buster for me

Self-Care Man ReadingReading

  • Intellectual because I’m stimulating my brain by thinking
  • Social because I go to a book discussion group
  • Emotional because I’m reading escape novels
  • Spiritual because I’m reading uplifting book

At the end of two weeks, review what you have entered in the self-care domains. Make an effort to add new things in areas you’ve neglected.

Self-Care Exercises


Check ‘nourishments’ that you would be willing to commit to do in the next month.

On the blank lines at the end add some of your own activities. Get involved in something new.

  • do a craft or hobby
  • write in a journal
  • exercise
  • call a friend
  • meditate
  • take a long warm bath & light a candle
  • go to a place of worship
  • listen to music
  • go to a movie, even if I cry
  • read
  • go to a museum
  • work in the garden
  • care for a pet
  • volunteer
  • __________________________ __________________________
  • __________________________ __________________________
  • __________________________ __________________________
  • __________________________ __________________________
  • __________________________ __________________________

Journal about your self-care. Remember you are writing for yourself. Don’t worry about spelling, sentence structure, and the like. Just write your thoughts as they come to you. Refer to this entry when you are feeling guilty for taking time for yourself.

Self-Care Man Hiking

LEISURE (Download here)

Leisure or recreational activities serve many healthful purposes, including self-care. Some can be intellectually stimulating and some promote socialization. Others are healthful because they are a physical outlet. Still others may provide a needed spiritual dimension.


Accomplish something…bicycle to the store

Be alone…meditate

Be a spectator…go to a sporting event or concert

Be sociable…accept an invitation to a social gathering

Be spiritually uplifted…take a walk in the park or go to a house of worship

Compete in a sport you like

Continue to learn…take an adult learning class for credit or audit

Exercise alone…walk on a treadmill at home or go for a walk in nature

Exercise with others…ask a close friend to go with you

Keep emotionally stimulated…discuss issues openly with trusted friends / family

Keep mentally stimulated…do crossword puzzles, play Jeopardy

Keep physically stimulated…join a health club

Relax…take some sunscreen, a magazine, and sit outside

Return to a hobby from the past…find an old train collection in the attic and set it up

Be creative…participate in arts, crafts, knitting, sewing, writing

Journal about your self-care. Remember you are writing for yourself. Don’t worry about spelling, sentence structure, and the like. Just write your thoughts as they come to you. Refer to your list when you are at a loss for something to do just for yourself.

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