A guide to self care

It can be hard to know how to look after yourself sometimes. With all the buzz around the phrase 'self care', what does it actually mean in practice? Here's our round up of how to do the self care thing.

Two young people are sitting at a desk using laptops, talking about self care

So…what is self care?

Self care is about actively taking care of yourself. This allows you to give yourself a break and focus on your health, needs and wants. It is, most importantly, not selfish.

Why do I need to do it?

Being a human is tough. We live in a society full of pressures whether they be from school, family, friends or the media. Sometimes, these pressures can become overwhelming and we end up prioritising them over our own physical and mental health.

How can I do the self care thing?

Focusing on self care is often spoken about in terms of treatment for mental health problems, but it should be practised by everyone to keep happy and healthy.

Self care is totally individual. You just need to figure out what you enjoy and what keeps you feeling stress free, but there are some general ways you can take care of yourself like a pro.

Be kind to yourself: This is the most important one that should be on everyone’s list. Give yourself a break. You’re allowed some time to yourself to relax and recharge, and shouldn’t feel guilty or selfish for looking after number one (that’s you). No matter what your situation, your physical and mental health should always come first. You are important.

Exercise: Keeping your body active is a great stress-reliever. Even if you go for a 20-minute run twice a week, you can let off some steam and release those endorphins that will make you happy.

Go outside: It might be tempting to stay in bed all day when you’re having a self-care day but getting yourself outside even for a 10-minute walk around your area will get some fresh air into your lungs and brain.

Enjoy some rest: However, there’s no shame in staying your pyjamas under the duvet for some of the day. Rest your wonderful body. Stick Netflix on, turn off social media and immerse yourself in some outrageously trashy telly.

Eat well: It’s easy to recommend junk food, especially when the corner shop are running an extremely hard to turn down deal on strawberry laces, but in reality, making sure you eat well is more important when putting your body first. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of chocolate, but a healthy and nutritious meal should accompany it. Sorry to sound like your mum.

Have a bath: Baths are less common these days. Showers get all the attention. They’re quicker, easier and in the modern world they’re just more convenient. BUT, let’s bring back the bath. Grab some bath bombs, go overboard on the bubbles, stick some music on and just lie in blissful warmth for a bit.

Create a self care playlist: Speaking of music, instead of just clicking ‘shuffle’ and skipping through 80% of your songs, how about you create a self care playlist to listen to when you need some me-time? Shove some calming music on there, motivational songs, songs from your childhood, and sing along to your heart’s content.

Say no: It’s very easy to feel guilty when saying ‘no’ to social commitments, but sometimes it can be the best thing you can do for yourself. You shouldn’t have to come up with any “I’m pretty sure I’m gonna be sick that day” excuses.

Write an achievable to-do list: It can be easy to set yourself a list of big goals when writing to-do lists, but giving yourself smaller targets can make you feel more in control and proud of your day. Get up. Shower. Put clothes away. Have lunch. All the little necessary things are great to tick off and keep you motivated.

Get creative: This isn’t for everyone, but getting stuck in with creative activities can keep your mind focused and productive, whilst still keeping you chilled. Get yourself a mindfulness colouring book, dig out the cross-stitch you didn’t finish when you were 12, or decorate some biscuits. Basically have fun.

It’s easy to get swept up in the fast-pace of life, but making sure you’re giving yourself some self care time will ensure you’re best prepared to deal with the worst that life can throw at you. Keep happy and healthy!

If you need support with self care

Get in touch with our team who are there to listen and support you with any issue.

Read Maria’s guide to creating a self care kit.

Read Charlotte’s take on self love.

Next Steps

  • Mind offers advice and support to people with mental health problems. Their helpline runs nine to six from Monday to Friday. 0300 123 3393
  • If you're under 25 and would like free confidential telephone counselling from The Mix to help you figure things out complete this form and we'll call you to arrange your first session.
  • The Self-Esteem Team (SET) run workshops in schools across the UK to help tackle young people's issues with body image, self-worth and mental health.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.




Updated on 12-May-2022