Now you know about the benefits of creating a self-care plan, find out how to make a personalised self-care plan of your own.
Good self-care helps protect our health and wellbeing, as well as building resilience against the difficulties life throws at us. This can make it an important resource for people living with a visible difference or disfigurement, who may face challenges in day-to-day life.
On this page, we tackle the question “What is self-care?” and explore some of the ways you can introduce it into your life.
When things are not going so well or if we are struggling with certain situations, we sometimes fall back on habits to help us cope. However, these are not always healthy or caring towards ourselves. This can be a particular problem if you experience difficult situations in day-to-day life related to your visible difference.
So what is self-care and how can it help?
Self-care means taking an active role in improving your own health and protecting your wellbeing – stopping those bad habits from kicking in. Good self-care is especially beneficial in times of stress and worry when our physical, mental and emotional welfare might be affected. This can make it a valuable resource if you are living with a visible difference.
Five key areas of self-care
Key to answering the question “What is self-care?” is understanding the five key areas of life which form part of our self-care. These are:
- Physical: Nutrition, exercise, sleep, personal hygiene, smoking, drinking, drugs.
- Emotional: General wellbeing, how you feel about yourself / your accomplishments, enjoyment of activities, relationships with partner, friends, family, children.
- Psychological: General mental health, spiritual practices, meditation, keeping a journal or blog, gaining support, learning new skills, being adaptable, practising positive thinking.
- Social: Time with friends / family, communicating with people, setting up / attending social groups or occasions, social hobbies.
- Professional:Managing work duties / pressures, work-life balance, achievements, professional relationships, time management, time outside work spent on work-related activities (e.g. checking email) and finances (e.g. budgeting, paying bills, debt, disposable income).
Here are some basic things you can try to improve your self-care routine:
- Prioritise activities you enjoy: There will always be an endless to-do list of household chores and things spilling over from work. Reserve one evening a week for your favourite activity.
- Build in “daily-dos”: Try and find a little time each day for little pleasures, such as going out for fresh air at lunch time or reading a book instead of the news on your commute.
- Say no: Don’t feel guilty about declining an invite to take some “me time” when everyone else is doing something – do what feels right for you.
- Eat healthily: Eating lots of high-sugar foods and carbohydrates can make you feel sluggish. Try to maintain a balanced diet. Eat protein (meat, fish, soya, beans, cheese, eggs) to fill you up. Drink at least two litres of water a day.
- Pay attention to yourself: Taking the time for a quick shower and setting out fresh clothes the night before can help us start the day more positively. Pay yourself attention – you are worth it!
- Relaxation: Try switching off your phone and reading, watching a film, taking a bath, doing yoga or going for a walk in the park. Take a look at our guide to relaxation techniques for some inspiration.
- Rest: Don’t feel that taking regular breaks is selfish or lazy – it’s as vital for our bodies as food and water. Even sitting or lying down for 10 minutes can help you recoup your energy.
- Sleep: Seven to eight hours’ sleep a night is vital for most adults. If you struggle to sleep, practise good “sleep hygiene” (e.g. by having a bath or reading a book before bed) or try out these relaxation techniques.
If you find you are consistently neglecting good self-care, we recommend creating a self-care plan to help you take a more systematic approach to self-care.