What is self care?
Self care has two definitions. The first one relates to matters of health and well-being. In short, anything you do for yourself to help promote better health, both bodily and mentally. For example, taking regular exercise is a popular method of self care. The other definition of relates to self-esteem. In this sense, it means doing things which will help to raise the perception of oneself. Self-affirming thought processes are just one example of this. Overall, caring for oneself means taking the same sorts of measures one would to care for another person but applying them to yourself.
Is self care the same as self help?
These two concepts are related. That said, self help tends to differ because it will often refer to raising awareness, consciousness or education rather than caring for oneself. So, for example, a self help book might give you advice on how you can take better care of yourself. Reading it is a form of self help, but only by carrying out at least some of the methods it contains would you be engaging in self care. Self help might also mean acquiring a new skill, whereas self care often does not need any expertise, just the time and effort it takes to be kind to oneself.
Why does self care matter?
Self care is tremendously important to public health. Without it, we are all reliant on counter-measures, such as therapy treatments, to help deal with conditions. However, by caring for ourselves, we can all maintain better physical health which will proactively prevent acquiring them in the first place. Something as simple as washing your hands is an act of self care which helps to prevent the spread of contagions, for example. Equally, acts which focus on mental well-being can help to prevent conditions like depression and anxiety or, at least, to lessen their impact.
Who benefits from self care?
Everyone can benefit from a self-caring approach to life. In particular, people who have a genetic predisposition to a disorder will find looking after themselves helps their physical well-being. In addition, people who have immediate relatives with mental health disorders are likely to benefit greatly from acts of self care. In turn, this puts healthcare providers under less demand which is something that benefits society as a whole. In short, it benefits old and young alike, and it helps to improve economic productivity since fewer people get as sick as they otherwise would.
What self care measures can you take?
As mentioned, hand washing is an important self care measure. So is brushing your teeth and maintaining a healthy, balanced diet. Going for a walk or taking more strenuous exercise has a raft of benefits which are not limited to physical well-being – it will help with mental health, too. Setting goals of achievement is also a good idea. This is an example of where caring for oneself and self help can cross over one another.