Even though self-care is a term that has been frequently used in recent times, there’s still uncertainty and misconceptions around what it is and how to practice it. In order to get some clarity, let us begin with one definition that can be found with a quick google search. The World Health Organization (WHO) defined self-care as the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health worker. From this definition, we can see that self-care is about our general wellbeing. The activities that we can incorporate throughout our life on a daily basis that will promote health, prevent illness and develop coping mechanisms that can help us to manage issues that may arise.

Self-reflection is the key to this process. What works for some people may not work for others. It forces us to ask ourselves, what our specific needs are and how they can be met. This process is ever-changing. What we need can change with time and circumstance. Thus, the concept of self-care is just as much a journey as life itself. It can be in the form of emotional, physical or spiritual needs and can be temporary or long term. For example, a warm bath or seeing a friend benefits us temporarily. Practicing daily habits such as having a workout routine, practicing mindfulness or taking our recommended medications or supplements leads to more permanent effects. Self-care also does not have to cost anything. Sometimes financially keeping up with yearly vacations or weekly manicures can cause more undue stress if we are not able to meet those targets. Therefore, trying to be more mindful of our thoughts, behaviours and emotions can be a more practical and sustainable practice in the long run.

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