What is Self-Care? Why is it Important?

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Ny Shon Mack | UAB Community Health and Human Services Intern

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Self-care, also known as self-awareness, is a lifelong habit and culture, and is one of those things that is easier said than done. Although it is highly recommended, not many people practice it or even know what it is. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider (Self-care interventions for health, 2022). It simply means recognizing the current relationship we have with ourselves, prioritizing it, and working towards better self-treatment. Placing yourself as a priority is equivalent to telling yourself that you matter and that your needs are valid.

There are three types of self care: 

Physical Self Care- focuses on taking care of your physical health and wellbeing

Mental & Emotional Self Care- puts your mind and feelings first

Spiritual Self Care- Centers faith (whatever you believe in)

The benefits of practicing self-care are simple. You may experience lower cortisol levels, happier relationships, improved immune response, better sleep, increased self esteem, decreased depression and anxiety, and more.

Examples of self-care may include taking care of your personal hygiene, eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, making time for social activities and paying close attention to how you may think or feel. Believe it or not, practicing self-care is one of the most important ways to boost and maintain both emotional and physical aspects of our health.

It can sometimes be hard for us to maintain all of these tasks from day to day. Self-care efforts are often neglected due to lack of time, which, in turn, negatively impacts our lives and the lives of those around us. I recently took a weekend trip to Destin, Florida for a little stress relief. During my stay, I was able to relax and reflect on myself and my needs. I then realized that self-care should never be a chore, but something you learn to enjoy with time. 

MBA, W. by: S. S., & PharmD, R. by: D. W. (n.d.). Self-care: Definition, benefits, & ideas to try. Choosing Therapy. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from https://www.choosingtherapy.com/self-care/ 

World Health Organization. (n.d.). Self-care interventions for health. World Health Organization. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from https://www.who.int/health-topics/self-care#tab=tab_1

Yanulevich, T., College, U., Reese, J., Albuquerque, D., Moyer, C., Mayer, C., Williams, B., Burns, M., Keleman, M., Barrett, M., Caramico, L., Shellabarger, R. A., Crockett, K., Stephenson, J., Ankney, T., Larsen, K., & Sybert, C. (2019, October 16). 5 reasons why self care is important for your health. The Odyssey Online. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from https://www.theodysseyonline.com/5-reasons-why-self-care-is-important 

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