True Self-Care

by Vanessa H. Roddenberry, Ph.D., HSP-P


Self-care has become a buzzword in recent years, with many people associating it with indulgent activities like chocolate cake, salt crystals, and bubble baths. While these activities can certainly be a part of self-care, true self-care goes much deeper than that. It involves aligning your time and behavior with your values and making time for your true needs while holding yourself accountable to them.

In this blog post, we will discuss the importance of self-care and effective self-care strategies. We will also address emotional and cultural barriers to self-care and ways to overcome them.

Why is self-care important?

Self-care is essential for our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. When we take care of ourselves, we are better equipped to handle stress, maintain healthy relationships, and achieve our goals. Self-care can also improve our self-esteem and self-worth, making us feel more confident in our abilities.

Effective self-care strategies

  1. Establish a self-care routine: Create a routine that aligns with your values and goals. It can include activities such as exercise, meditation, journaling, or reading a book.
  2. Prioritize rest: Adequate rest is crucial for our well-being. Make sure to prioritize sleep, take breaks throughout the day, and schedule downtime to recharge.
  3. Practice mindfulness: Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment without judgment. It can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Try incorporating mindfulness techniques like deep breathing or body scans into your daily routine.
  4. Set boundaries: Setting boundaries is an essential part of self-care. It means saying no to activities or people that drain our energy or do not align with our values.
  5. Practice self-compassion: We often judge ourselves harshly, leading to negative self-talk and self-doubt. Practicing self-compassion involves treating ourselves with kindness and understanding, just as we would a friend.

Emotional and cultural barriers to self-care

Many emotional and cultural factors can make it challenging to prioritize self-care. For example, some people may feel guilty for taking time for themselves or believe that they do not deserve self-care. Others may feel that they do not have enough time or resources to prioritize self-care.

Ways to overcome emotional and cultural barriers to self-care

  1. Challenge negative beliefs: Identify and challenge negative beliefs that may be preventing you from prioritizing self-care. Replace them with positive affirmations that encourage self-care.
  2. Ask for help: If you are struggling to prioritize self-care, ask for help from friends, family, or a therapist. They can provide support and guidance.
  3. Start small: Incorporating small self-care activities into your routine can help build momentum and increase confidence in your ability to prioritize self-care.
  4. Make self-care a priority: Treat self-care as a non-negotiable part of your routine, just as you would with other important activities like work or school.

Instead of thinking of self-care as a requirement that you don’t have time for, or have to “fit in” sometime during the day, reframe it as something that you “get” to do. It’s not a checklist, comprised of choices. The act of caring for yourself is the action of choosing yourself everyday. Own the choice and be intentional in your actions. You may not be able to engage in self-care the way you envision, or the way you planned, but you can choose how you want to engage within the parameters of the reality before you. Ask yourself, “How can I best care for myself in this moment?”. This action-oriented approach to self-care is a stance you can take based on a value of caring.

In this way, self-care is not selfish; another sticking point that often comes up when we attempt to engage in self-care. Sociocultural influences related to the idea that “goodness” is related to “selflessness” and vice versa, have negative connotations around behavior designed to benefit oneself. However, to reconceptualize behavior that offers you or anyone mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual replenishment as falling under the umbrella of “caring,” is to understand that self-care is not selfish but necessary. If we are to be able to care for others in our life, for whom we profess to care, we must be well and whole enough to do so. Self-Care is neither completely selfish nor selfless, but rather a balance of attention to one’s own needs and the needs of others that sustains us all.

In conclusion, true self-care is much more than indulgent activities like cake, crystals, and bubble baths. It involves making time for fulfilling, values-consistent behavior; even if that behavior may not always be glamorous. Prioritizing self-care is essential for our physical, emotional, and mental well-being. By incorporating effective self-care strategies and overcoming emotional and cultural barriers, we can prioritize our self-care and live a healthier, happier life.

If you’re interested in talking with one of our doctoral-level psychologists in Raleigh, NC about how you can incorporate more self-care into your life, reach out to us today to schedule a session. You’d be amazed at how helpful it can be to have a psychologist help you develop a plan for self-care. We’re here to help and inspire you to set meaningful, achievable goals that result in lasting wellness. Contact our talented psychologists today!