What is Self-Care & How To Practice It

When you’re suffering from pain, illness, trauma, or loss, self-care must be a priority. If you want to heal, grow, and move forward after a painful experience, it’s important to understand what self-care really is and why it’s necessary.

The True Meaning of Self-Care

Since caring for someone often involves making them feel better or happier, it’s easy to think that self-care could include any behavior or habit that makes us feel good. But self-care is not self-medicating (using drugs, alcohol, or other addictive substances to alter your mood). And it isn’t overindulging in behaviors that self-soothe or numb your pain (with anything from shopping to sex to hours of screen time in front of the TV or smartphone).

Instead, self-care is a process involving “choosing behaviors that balance the effects of emotional and physical stressors [,including]: exercising, eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, practicing [healthy] relaxation techniques, abstaining from substance abuse, pursuing creative outlets, engaging in psychotherapy” (according to mental health experts at Psychology Today).

You Aren’t Being Selfish

Self-care is any and all of the daily decisions you make to care for your physical health, your emotional well-being, your self-esteem, and your spiritual life so that you have the energy and strength you need to meet your responsibilities, pursue your goals, and achieve personal growth in your relationships.

Since healthy self-care includes committing to numerous things that promote mental health and emotional balance (often with the recommendation or agreement of a doctor or mental health therapist), it’s important to understand that self-care is not selfish.

Just as a flight attendant would tell you to put on your own oxygen mask during a flight before helping someone else in an emergency, caring for your own needs means you will be in a much better position to help others when they need you.

How to Make Self-Care a Habit

A healthy self-care routine can be difficult if your life has been shaped by painful trauma. But it is possible to participate in your own healing and wellness, even if you’ve lived with addiction, abuse, or acute grief.

If you’re not sure where to start, try making a list of unhealthy behaviors you want to decrease, and another one that includes healthier habits you can replace them with.

For example:

If your screen time is too high, make one goal to decrease it, and another to read for at least 20 minutes a day.

If you eat too many unhealthy snacks, don’t restock on your next shopping trip. Instead pick up things like dried fruit, nuts, granola, yogurt, and fresh veggies, and snack on those in between meals.

Prayer is a simple way to care for your spiritual well-being. Even when you don’t feel like you have the time, energy, or faith to pray, asking others to pray for you still has an impact. You can also get help developing your self-care routine from a mentor, therapist, doctor, psychiatrist, or a leader you trust in your faith community.

Since you’re here, you’re already making good choices for your self-care. Just reach out if you need more guidance and we’ll do whatever we can to help.

Want to do more research? Browse our library of blogs, podcasts, and ebooks to learn things like:

  • How can I quit cutting for good?
  • How can I live a balanced life with food?
  • How can I forgive the person who hurt me?
  • How can I manage my anger?
  • How can I live life on the hard days?
  • What's my purpose?

Most Recent Blogs on Self-Care

Relationship Help: 5 Ways to Set Better Boundaries in Friendships


Do you ever feel like things aren’t what they used to be in a friendship? Even with close friends, I can sometimes feel exasperated or tired after we talk or spend time together, and I can’t put my finger on why. In those moments, I realize I haven’t been setting..Read more

Grief Support: What to do When Grief Comes Out of Nowhere


One of the truest things I’ve learned about grief is this: it never fully goes away. Because grieving is so difficult, it may be hard to accept this at first. But think of it this way: you’re grieving the loss of someone you care about. You will always love them..Read more

How to Make Friends with These 4 Steps


The Effort is Well Worth the Reward Some people find making friends to be a very difficult task. It doesn’t have to be, but it does require patience, love, and commitment. I often say on my radio show, Dawson McAllister Live, that it is incredibly valuable to have good friends...Read more

Wondering How To Manage College Stress?


The college years are certainly a time in your life to look forward to…the freedom, dorm life, expanding your mind, constant contact with friends, social activities, studying what interests you most, etc. But let’s be honest, college is stressful. To have successful college years, it is important to learn ways..Read more

View More >

Podcasts about Self-Care :

eBooks on Self-Care :

Stories on Self-Care :

Struggling with Self-Harm: Finding Hope and Help


Self-harm stems from pain so deep it feels as if it is the only way to take away the emotional pain.  If you have been abused, hurt, rejected, abandoned, or experienced anything else that has caused you emotional trauma and you have turned to self-harm to cope…we are here for you...Read more

I Now Have a Reason to Live


My Last Effort to Find a Reason to Live I was very close to committing suicide end of summer 2017. But it felt like something was holding me back. While googling how to get free help online (too scared to get actual help), I stumbled upon TheHopeLine. I was able..Read more

Abuse: Red Flags, but Married Him Anyway


I Made a Bad Choice to Cover My Pain Before I married my husband, I lost someone who was my everything. He passed away, and I never coped with his loss.  I just wanted someone to love me and fill that spot in my heart. And that’s where my husband..Read more

Self-Injury: I Was Cutting Everyday Then I Found Hope


I was cutting every day when I talked to a HopeCoach. It was not a pretty sight. I was dragged down by everyone around me. My father was a very abusive man. I would get hurt for just simply being in the same room as him. I attempted suicide and landed..Read more

View More >

Resources for Self-Care :

Spiritual Perspective :

Verses of Hope

Free eBooks


Free eBook: Understanding a Relationship with God

A guide to understanding the basics of Christianity and a meaningful relationship with God.  Do You Feel Like Life is Meaningless? Are you wondering what your purpose is? Do you have questions about what Christians believe or what it means to be a Christian? At TheHopeLine we believe real and lasting HOPE can only come […]

View More >

Additional Resources

View More >