Self Care



In an increasingly busy world, it seems like we have less and less time for ourselves. We tend to prioritize taking care of others over taking care of ourselves, and as a result become tired, anxious, burnt-out, depressed, and resentful. Even though the term self-care is well known and appears to be easy to accomplish, it is actually a really difficult task for many people.

What is Self-Care?

Self-care is something that is provided “for you, by you.” People around you will not take your needs seriously if you do not make them a priority for yourself. This includes figuring out what you need, and taking the time and effort necessary to meet these needs.

For many, prioritizing their own needs over those of others can seem selfish. I’m sure you have heard of the saying often used to promote self-care “in the event of an airplane emergency, adults must put on their oxygen mask first before helping a child put on theirs.” While somewhat overused, this is a good example of why it is important to prioritize your own physical, psychological, and spiritual needs. If you neglect your own needs, as in the airplane emergency example, you run the risk of harming yourself to the point where you would not be helpful to others anyways.

I want to revisit this notion of selfishness in taking time for our own needs. It is not selfish to take the time to nurture and care for yourself so that you remain healthy and happy. Part of self-care is treating yourself with the same respect and kindness that you show others. Be patient with yourself, and understand that no one is perfect.

Strategies for Self-Care:

Self-care is about doing something for yourself that you enjoy and brings you peace. What are some things that you enjoy doing?

Some self-care strategies for dealing with anxiety or stress:

  • Exercise- does not have to be very strenuous, even going for a 20 minute walk could be beneficial.
    • This raises endorphins in your brain, and could also take your mind off of troublesome thoughts.
    • Breathing techniques:
      • Breathing to the count of four: breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 4 seconds, breath out for 4 seconds. Do four repetitions.
        • Reasoning behind this: when you get stressed or anxious you tend to breathe shallower and faster. This increases the amount of CO2 in your system, and signals your brain to start the panic response. Breathing techniques force you to breathe in deeper and for longer, which increases the amount of hydrogen in your system and reduces the panic response.
  • Grounding Techniques:
    • Naming the objects in your surroundings.
    • Pick a colour and find objects in your surroundings that colour.
    • Other self-care activities:
      • Read a good book
      • Journal
      • Draw, colour, or do an art project
      • Talk to others about your feelings
      • Meditate
      • Listen to calming music
      • What are some things you could do for self-care?


  • When would be the best time for you to do these self-care activities?


Natalie Reitsma

BA, Master of Counselling Intern