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September 28, 2023

Self-Care: It’s Holistic and Not One Size Fits All

by Debra Parker, MSW, LCSW

There is no one size fits all in self-care. Some people might think of self-care as doing things like getting massages and taking bubble baths. Although those things might be good self-care activities, I believe self-care is much more expansive and holistic than that. I think of people as whole people – not just our mental health challenges. Self-care involves many different areas of our lives.

Self-Care is Holistic

Health and Physical Care

Self-care could include bubble baths and massages, but it also includes getting regular health and mental health care, such as annual physicals, preventive care, or even meeting with a therapist.  Some people also prefer alternative types of healthcare, which could include using herbs, acupuncture, homeopathy etc. Rest and sleep are also crucial elements of self-care. Our society is so focused on productivity, so it’s important that rest is not productive.  This could be in the form of meditation, Netflix, or time in nature. If you are one that struggles with sleep, it can impact many areas of your life.  The practice of sleep hygiene is essential. You can learn tips on how to improve your sleep hygiene here. Regular physical activity is also an essential element of self care. Start with things you like to do and increase the time incrementally if its hard to get started.

Social Interaction and Community

Self care also involves our relationships and connections with others. Social time looks different for different people. For some, it means getting together regularly with friends and family, or a close friend and/or a partner(s). For others, this social time could include a faith community, playing games, or time with our furry friends. Intimacy is important, but looks different for everyone in terms of the nature of those types of relationships and with whom.

Community can come in many forms: family, faith, or other groups of people we have things in common with. Community helps us to feel a sense of solidarity and grounding in the world. For those of us who have found a positive spiritual or faith practice or community, this can be a good avenue for working on change, finding meaning, and dealing with the stress of our lives, including stress related to the many things we are unable to change.

Passion and Purpose

Work can promote self-care if you feel passionate and connected to your job.  Some folks, for various reasons, are not able to pay the bills with work that is meaningful to them.  But, for those of us who can,  it’s good if our work is something that we at least in part care about and can allow us to make positive changes in the world. Someone could make positive contributions to society through their families, faith communities, or with activism such as helping to organize around civil rights (there is plenty of work to do in this arena!) even if through a volunteer basis and with a limited time commitment. Don’t skip over processing the grief of everything going on in the world and in our lives. If you have a safe space to express your feelings with loved ones, that’s great, or you can do that in therapy.

Creativity and Fun

Creativity is another avenue to promote self-care. I am growing more and more in my creativity I find as I am aging. You can sing, dance, make collages, paint, write poetry or even blogs! There are so many ways to create, I couldn’t possibly name them all. Creativity feeds the soul in many ways. Trying new things in a supportive environment and having fun is good for you.

This is not an exhaustive list or even all I have to say about self-care, but just a few of my thoughts. I hope you have found it helpful! The most important thing to remember is to find different outlets that allow you to care for yourself. Self-care allows you to reduce stress levels, potentially prevent illness, and increase your energy. Your unique ways of self-care don’t have to be the same as anyone else’s. If you’re looking for ways to care for yourself more, review this list and see if any stood out to you.

If you need professional support to find or understand methods of self-care or for your mental and emotional health overall, visit here to learn more about Avance Care Behavioral Health services.


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