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What is Self-Care?

self-care Sep 16, 2020

As a registered dietitian and lifestyle coach, I have loved watching the growing interest in self-care in recent years. More and more people are investing their time, money, and energy into developing healthier habits. Not only is self-care one of the most effective forms of preventive health care around the globe, but it's also a whole lot more affordable than professionalized medicine.

At its core, self-care is a simple tool that involves anything and everything that supports your health in a positive way.  

For some people, self-care is a collection of small kindnesses; for others it's much more radical. 

But the overarching goal of self-care is to reunite you with your intuitive ability to take care of yourself. It helps you remember to honor your needs, preferences, limitations, and desires, and it's an invitation to explore a wide range of activities and strategies until you find the ones that best support you. 

Because only you can determine what supports you on a holistic level. 

What is Self-Care?

The World Health Organization defines self-care as “the most dominant form of primary care in both developed and in developing countries.” It's been estimated that “65% to 85% of health care is provided by the individual or the family without professional intervention.” 

At LivingUpp, we define self-care as a preventive health strategy involving actions and behaviors that improve, restore, or maintain good health. And it includes the management of existing health conditions. 

In short, self-care is everything you do between doctor's appointments to support your well-being. 

Self-Care is Personal

Self-care is personal. Only you get to decide for yourself what self-care is or isn't. Your strategies will look very different from your friends and family. And that's okay; it's supposed to.  

The more individualized your self-care strategies, the more in touch you'll become with your individual needs. Being able to recognize the early warning signs of imbalance within your life will help you make course corrections more quickly, so you can prevent the costly medical expenses that often come with chronic health conditions.

As a healthcare provider who has been on both sides of the sheets when it comes to professionalized care, I know that self-care isn't something that can be dictated or prescribed. Ultimately, it's defined by you -- not by journalists or doctors or friends or social media.

So, the next time you read someone else's opinion about what self-care is or isn't, keep scrolling. Don't allow their interpretation to dictate what self-care is or isn't for you. Trust yourself to know what you need. 

Why Self-Care is Essential

Self-care is a basic human need. It serves as the foundation of good health, and it's a practical form of health care that almost everyone has access to.

Nourishing your body with healthy food, getting enough high-quality sleep, moving your body regularly, expressing your emotions in a healthy way, living your personal brand, tending to your finances and, managing your mindset, aligning your natural gifts with your life's work, establishing and honoring healthy boundaries in relationships, and being an integral part of your community--all fit within the framework of self-care.

There are an endless number of ways you can choose to support your well-being. The lifestyle design process involves a series of experiments that help you determine what best serves you when it comes to taking good care of yourself. 

But knowing where to begin with your self-care journey isn't always so clear.

The 8 Dimensions of Self-Care

LivingUpp's 8 Dimensions of Self-Care framework makes it easy to identify and prioritize the areas of your life that need the most support at any given moment. Using the Rate Your 8 Self-Care Assessment tool on a daily basis is an easy way to assess your self-care habits regularly. And when you know exactly what you need, you'll be able to create more balance

Here are some benefits to creating a holistic self-care practice: 

  • When you're well-rested, you can think more clearly and solve problems more easily
  • When you have strong, supportive relationships, the heavy moments feel a little lighter and you're more resilient
  • When you have a clear personal brand, you're more confident and others know what to expect from you.
  • When you have clear boundaries, you're able to protect your energy and put it to better use. 
  • When you manage your financial resources well, you'll experience less stress and be in a better position to give to others
  • When you nourish your body with healthy food, you have more energy and your immune system is stronger
  • When you move your body regularly, you're stronger and more flexible. 
  • When you're able to manage your emotional energy, you're less susceptible to the world's nonsense
  • When you focus on what you want, you're more likely to get want you want
  • When you know your strengths, you can get better aligned with your life's work.
  • When you're connected to nature, you're more connected to your community

How to Make Self-Care Part of Your Daily Life

Here are three easy ways to make self-care part of your daily life. 

1. Rate Your 8

Rate your 8 every morning. LivingUpp's Rate Your 8 self-assessment tool was developed to help you identify and prioritize your needs on a daily basis. The 8 Dimensions of Self-Care offers a framework to make it easy to identify your needs quickly. Being able to make good choices about where you invest your time and energy is essential, especially when you're low on resources.

Taking inventory of your needs on a daily basis also helps you identify trends -- those areas of your life that you may have been neglecting or putting off. This can help you course correct your habits when you need to, before long-term consequences show up in the form of declining health.

Learn more about how to use the Rate Your 8 self-assessment tool here.

 2. Create Daily Self-Care Rituals

Weaving self-care into your daily life requires some planning, but being consistent with self-care will produce much better outcomes.

The easiest way to get started is to begin and end your day with self-care. 

Create daily self-care rituals will make it easier to keep self-care at the top of your to-do list. Over time, it won't feel like work. It will simply become part of who you are. 

A solid morning practice that creates the conditions for a successful day. Some popular morning self-care rituals to consider include journaling, prayer, meditation, a healthy breakfast, etc.

Likewise, ending your day with self-care can help you relax, unwind from your busy day, and get a good night's sleep. Some popular evening self-care rituals to consider include gratitude journaling, essential oils, stretching, reading, etc.

If you need help creating daily self-care rituals, The Lifestyle Design Planner* can help you organize all of the pieces of your life in one place. See inside the planner here.

3. Make Self-Care Non-negotiable

While most people understand conceptually that self-care is essential, it still tends to fall to the bottom of the to-do list when life gets busy. Making self-care non-negotiable means you keep it at the top of your list--even when you're tempted to skip it. 

When you treat self-care just as you would an important appointment or task, it means you value yourself enough to make it a priority.

By making self-care part of your daily life, you'll begin designing an easier, healthier lifestyle that enables you to show up more consistently for those you love.


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*LivingUpp™ is a participant in affiliate programs, which means we earn a commission from qualifying purchases. Pages on this website may include affiliate links to Amazon and other affiliate sites.

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