What is Self-Care and Why is it Important?

When defining and understanding self-care it is equally important to understand what it is not. Self-care is misunderstood and seen by many as self-indulgent in a selfish manner. Even laziness is associated by some. True self-care is not only needed, it is essential to your overall health and wellbeing. It is the cornerstone of what allows you to function optimally and give to others around you. Let’s look at exactly what it is and the benefits.

What is Self-Care?

We’ve all heard the term self-care and it likely brings a certain image to mind. For some, maybe most, it brings images of luxuriating at a spa and taking in massages, facials and saunas. Or maybe, lounging on the sofa eating bonbons. It conjures activities that are self-absorbed serving no real purpose outside of pampering and indulgence. (That’s not to say massages and skin care can not be well purposed).

Let’s contrast that with the actual definition. Self-care, according to the WHO is “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.” (1)

And, as defined by Oxford Dictionary, self-care is “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness.” (2)

In the two definitions we see two distinctions, the ability and the practice. The key element is “an active role.” We must take an active role in our own care. This is self-care. This is the care we give for ourselves. And, as they say when you fly on an airplane, you must put on your own oxygen mask first before attempting to help someone else with theirs. This is simply because if you run out of oxygen you will not be able to help those around you.

Examples of Self-Care

There are three main areas of self-care and they include physical, emotional, and spiritual. Practicing self-care includes anything that promotes positive health outcomes.

Common and often overlooked examples of self-care include eating well, maintaining regular sleep cycles, moving your body, getting outside in nature, practicing and expressing gratitude, setting healthy boundaries, meditating or praying.

There are myriad activities that would fall under each of these examples and many are dependent on the needs of the individual. Self-care is not a strict regime that everyone must follow exactly the same. One person, due to their circumstances, may need more focus in one area than another.

The goal is to make it holistic. To make your self-care take care of your entire body—the whole body. Many of these examples would ideally be incorporated into your every day. Then, there would be an extra focus, based on individual needs on a Saturday, for example (or certain times of the year).

When incorporated into your every day, you create routines or rituals that focus on these areas and make them naturally flow and become simple habit. This ensures you are putting you first so you can be your best you. Which in turns allows you to show up in all areas of your life with the most to give—to your family, friends, work, community and the world.

What are the Benefits of Self-Care?

From examining the few examples above, we can see the benefits of self-care reach far beyond pampering or self-indulgence. Self-care is about taking a deliberate, purposeful, or active approach to your own well-being.

When you set systems in place to make sure you eat better, sleep better, move better, think and process better, you are setting yourself up for a healthier, more energetic, active and long life. That is self-care.

Each of the areas of self-care promote resilience, a stronger immune system, less stress, less disease, more happiness and an increased ability to move happily through this life.

When we eat better, research suggests, we gain not only physical but also mental health benefits and future well-being. (3)

When we sleep better, our body is better able to rebuild and repair its systems—immune, skeletal, and muscular. (4)

When we move our bodies better, we increase our longevity and fight disease, cancers and disability (5, 6)

These are but a few of the components and their benefits. With self-care itself including anything that produces a health benefit to oneself, the options are myriad.


To get started, pick one area where you know you need to improve. Is it something for your physical body, your emotional or your spiritual well being? Pick one area and just one thing that could improve it. Now, add that one thing to your calendar. Make it happen. Once you’ve added that one, rinse and repeat and you are on your way to feel better now, be healthier and live longer—all to live your best life now.



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Monica Edwards Living Best Life

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I'm Monica Edwards 

I'm a serial entrepreneur, healthy living & life systems expert showing a determined you how to master your time & well-being to thrive and live your best life now. Life is too short to settle. You can have it all. Let me show you how.