Thursday, June 1, 2023
33 C
Brunei Town
- Advertisement -

Practise self-care

Juli Fraga

THE WASHINGTON POST – Self-care is a known and powerful way to combat stress – a well-being saboteur that can affect the body’s immune system and increase anxiety.

For many people, though, recommended self-care strategies such as getting enough sleep, exercising and meditating can seem unattainable for financial, time or health reasons.

“Self-care isn’t accessible to a huge swath of the population,” said psychiatrist and author of Real Self-Care: A Transformative Program for Redefining Wellness (Crystals, Cleanses, and Bubble Baths Not Included) Pooja Lakshmin.

“We cannot meditate our way out of a 40-hour workweek without child care or purchase a gym membership if it exceeds our budget.”

One solution, she said, is to retrofit our relationship to self-care. “Real self-care is not a thing we do – it’s a way to be,” Lakshmin said. Tending to ourselves isn’t a checklist that includes yoga classes and juice cleanses. “It’s identifying your choices and making decisions that align with your values,” Lakshmin said. This approach also makes self-care more accessible.

Here are some tips I offer my patients to make self-care work for them.


Challenges such as less social support, stressful life events and cultural norms can hinder self-nurturing.

“Cultural conditioning casts self-care in a negative light, making it seem selfish,” said psychotherapist Chase Cassine in New Orleans.

“Viewing your choices as either selfish or selfless is called ‘all-or-nothing thinking’,“ said clinical psychologist Joel Minden in California.

It’s a thought trap many of us occasionally buy into, but giving it too much weight comes at a cost. “We feel guilty for prioritising our needs,” he said, and self-care gets put on the back burner.

To get past this barrier of cultural conditioning, ask yourself, “What feeling is getting in the way of my self-care?” This will help you identify what’s holding you back, which research shows can help ease distress.

By acknowledging your guilt, shame or any other uncomfortable feeling related to self-care, you’re showing yourself empathy. And this kind act will help you weather stress with greater resilience, research shows.


Identifying your needs helps you approach self-care proactively, Minden said.

Lisa Olivera can relate. The busy mom, psychotherapist and author of Already Enough: A Path to Self-Acceptance makes a daily effort to care for herself.

But before brewing a cup of tea or taking a walk, Olivera pauses for self-reflection. “When I check in with myself, I can identify my next move,” she said. For instance, when feeling down, Olivera knows she needs nurturing. “When I’m sad, I read a good book or call a friend,” she said.

“Self-care is most effective when it reaches us ‘where we are’,” Olivera said. In this way, the practice works best when it syncs up with your emotional needs. Getting a sense of what you need starts with replacing judgmental “should statements” such as “I should exercise” with self-reflection.

Ask yourself open-ended questions such as, “Is there anything I can do today that will make my life five per cent less stressful?” and “Based on how I’m feeling, how can I tend to myself right now?” Olivera said.

Anchoring your question in the moment helps you identify tangible next steps. For instance, if you’re overwhelmed, you might swap out social plans for a walk outside. Or if you’re lonely, taking a few minutes to text a friend can help.


When you’re short on time, tiny respites called “micro-breaks” can make self-care more doable. These breaks, taken throughout your day, can last anywhere from three to 10 minutes, said Psychology Researcher Patricia Albulescu, at West University of Timisoara in Romania.

In one study, Albulescu and her colleagues found that micro-breaks helped people manage stress and anxiety, which improved their well-being. “Gazing out the window for a few minutes or watching a funny video online are examples of micro-breaks,” Albulescu said. These short breaks restore energy, helping you feel more rested and relaxed.

As a psychotherapist, Cassine’s workday is sliced into 50-minute increments, leaving little time for longer breaks. To reset, he takes several micro-breaks throughout his day. “I text with friends on a group chat or step outside for fresh air, which allows my mind to refocus,” Cassine said.

Spending time outdoors unleashes “attention restoration”, which refreshes the mind. While outside time is one way to nourish well-being, Albulescu said micro-breaks can be any tiny activity that cultivates meaning and enjoyment.


Social connections, especially when stressed, can prevent depression and boost self-esteem.

Feeling loved also helps you feel empowered, which can make change feel more attainable.

To foster greater support, consider enlisting a “self-care buddy”.

With this person, decide how you can help each other and set up regular check-in times. For instance, both of you could offer words of encouragement, share child-care duties or have a weekly coffee date.

With friends, merely listening, joking around or paying each other compliments can boost happiness and lower stress, research shows. Actions don’t need to be grand to make a difference.

“Ultimately, real self-care is a collective movement,” Lakshmin said.

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

Latest article

- Advertisement -