Are you in desperate need of some self-care? To be honest, a lot of us are. As we manage life, work commitments and family demands, our tendency to prioritise self-care can drop right off the radar. It becomes something that we plan to do ‘tomorrow’ or once life settles at some point in the future. For others of us, the concept of self-care is less of a dream and more of a foreign concept. It’s one of those bamboozling things that people talk about that can almost feel aggravating or intimidating.

The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, particularly during periods of stress.


So how is it that for some people self-care is something of a daily ritual and indulgence – and for others it’s a constant battle and requires conscious effort? Well, there are a number of possible reasons for this, some of which are best understood within the context of our childhoods. For those of us who were raised in a safe and secure environment, it might be slightly easier to partake in regular self-care rituals. However, if we grew up learning that we were safest managing the needs of others then self-care as an adult can feel unsatisfying at best and nothing other than anxiety provoking at worst. Born and breed people pleasers and self-sacrificers can become extremely disorientated when considering their own feelings and needs because they have spent most of their lives predicting what others desire.

And it gets more complicated than that! See the benefits of abandoning yourself can include a reduction in external conflict (the internal conflict remains and is often suppressed) and an increase in praise and rewards from others. As soon as you start messing with that, then there are all sorts of possible implications. What happens if we say no, set boundaries, or change our priorities? After all, we learnt very early on that the best way to keep safe was to submit and make others happy. So, if we start pursuing our own needs – fears of rejection and abandonment can become very real.

If you resonate with this, then I have no doubt that self-care might be something that you try from time-to-time but quickly fall out of habit with. You might join the gym with the best of intentions – but within no time you find yourself working late to help a colleague. You might start a meditation practice but abandon this to talk with a friend who is having difficulties with their partner. The reasons are endless and ultimately result in your needs for rest, repair and recovery being shoved into the back closet in the far room of the garage.

Learning to give yourself the care and attention you offer others can be one of the most confronting, rewarding and liberating journeys. It ignites a glimmering light that radiates through you; a light that can then be shared as you graciously move and dance with others.

Sarah Campbell

So how do we start to remedy this? Here are 5 tips to making self-care more realistic in your life:

1. Reflect

Gently reflect on your life and whether you have ever had the opportunity to experience what it feels like to care for yourself. Can you remember a time or situation that helped you to feel calm, rested and rejuvenated? Are you aware of what your body, mind, and spirit needs when stressed or overwhelmed? Notice any fears or emotions that might arise as you do this exercise and consider how they effect your motivation to make self-care a habit. You might do this through journaling, art, or talking with a trusted loved one. You might also want to speak with a therapist to better understand any patterns or habits that effect your commitment to self-care.

2. Create a list of self-care strategies

We are all unique beings and what works for one person may feel like torture to the next. Once you have identified what you need to feel rested and rejuvenated, create a list of activities that resonate with you. It might be helpful to have practices that can be done at different intervals of the day and ones that are shorter in length. Having some flexibility and variety in activities might create fewer barriers to you engaging in self-care. After all, you might not have time to go on a bush walk everyday after work but you could commit to a 5 minute breathing exercise or an inspirational podcast on the drive home. Other suggestions might include:

  • Create a list of activities that can be done in 5 minutes, 30 minutes and an hour or two.
  • Think about activities that tap into sight, sound, smell, touch and taste.
  • Create a routine that includes self-care exercises – and remember that routines need repetitions in order for them to become habits.

3. Work on your boundaries

Learning to understand your needs and to assert them is critical. When we do this as adults we can come to accept that in healthy relationships, others are usually more than okay with us taking care of ourselves without any judgement or criticism. With these insights, we can start to heal any old fears and worries that might relate to abandonment if you dare utter your needs. In doing this, saying ‘no’ becomes more comfortable and asking for help gets easier.

4. Start some assertiveness training

It is all very well acknowledging what your needs are, but if you haven’t ever heard yourself asking for help or delegating a job then it can be a bit hard to know where to start. As humans, we do have a tendency to oscillate between extremes and can therefore switch between passivity and aggression. The later isn’t ideal and can result in conflict – the last thing we need as we are learning to set boundaries and prioritize ourselves. Asking friends for feedback can be helpful in this. It might also be necessary to engage with a therapist who can provide a safe space for role play and feedback.

5. Develop healthy self-talk

When ever we are learning new skills, it is really important to ensure that we have some encouraging words of wisdom that we can rely on. Too often, we have internalized a critical parent or caregiver from the past that rips us apart if we make a mistake. Similarly, if our standards and expectations are extremely high, then we are really vulnerable to procrastination or feelings of stress and anxiety. This happens when we focus too much on what went wrong as opposed to what we did well. So to prepare for this, it can be really helpful to create a list of kind things you can say to yourself as you start a new journey of self-care and self-compassion.

A final note:

We are sophisticated beings and our bodies ability to heal itself is nothing other than incredible. Be gentle though. Be kind. Allow time to rest.