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Self-Care: What Does This Even Mean, Really?

Updated: Oct 23, 2019

Mom of toddler working out with toddler playing nearby
Kids tend to change routines. Self-care routines aren't an exception. The challenge as a mom is creating a healthy routine that fits in your busy schedule.

Self-care is a buzz word that seems to get thrown around a lot lately. But, because it’s become so popular, many misconceptions and false definitions have also come into play. 

Simply put, self-care is any deliberate action you take to improve your mental, physical, or emotional health. 

You might even think you already practice self-care regularly. After all, if someone were to ask you if you take care of yourself, you’d probably answer positively. The bigger question, though, is exactly how do you do that? 

That’s not always as easy to answer. 

What Is Self-Care?

It’s important to understand that self-care is different for everyone. The common thread is that it needs to be something you consciously do to take better care of overall well-being. It’s not something you should force yourself to do. It’s not something that should become a “chore.” 

Many people have the misconception that self-care makes you selfish, but it’s just the opposite.

Self-care is often used as a way to combat stress and anxiety. When you’re less stressed, overwhelmed, or depressed, you can start to focus more on relationships and other priorities in your life. After all, you can’t take care of others if you can’t take care of yourself. 

How to know if you are lacking in the Self-Care Department?

The easy answer is listen to your body. How you feel at throughout the day is a big indicator.

If you wake up in the morning and are not feeling well-rested, chances are you are not getting restful sleep. (Moms with infants, I know, getting restful sleep is a pipe dream at the moment. But you will sleep again. I promise. But it could be a queue that you need to get more rest during the day.

Many new moms with high anxiety will do things around the house or for work instead of getting rest when the baby is resting. I'm not saying you have to co-nap every time your baby sleeps, but if you are feeling exhausted, sometimes you just have to get some rest. Then you can pick up where you left off and likely finish the tack quicker and with more accuracy.

Another queue that you need to reevaluate self-care is if you find yourself getting easily frustrated either with your partner or children. Moms with toddlers who want to learn how to yell less and have their children listen better - this is for you!

One amazing benefit of self-care is that we are able to take on greater challenges with more mental capacity later. That is why relationships and parenting skills tend to improve as you invest more time in your own needs as well.

How to Make Self-Care a Priority

Because self-care needs to be a deliberate action, you need to plan for it. It might be hard at first, especially if you’re not used to actively making time for yourself.

So, hold yourself accountable. Write things down in your calendar. Tell other people what you’re doing so they can hold you to it. Whatever you need to do to stick to your plan, make sure you’re doing it. 

One of the best ways to incorporate self-care into your life is to develop a routine. While getting away to the spa for an hour-long massage is nice, it probably isn’t realistic to do it every day. Thankfully, you don’t have to. There are ways to take better care of yourself each day by making just a few small changes. 

Some self-care tips to keep on your daily checklist could include: 

  • Getting enough sleep each night

  • Following a healthy diet

  • Exercising

  • Spending time with people you love

  • Following up with routine medical care

  • Doing one relaxing thing every day

Being Aware of Self-Care

Self-care doesn’t happen by accident. One of the biggest benefits of taking care of yourself is being aware and conscious of what you’re doing. If something “good” happens to you by chance, that’s great. But, it doesn’t count as self-care, and the adrenaline or high you might experience from it will quickly fade. 

If you aren’t already practicing self-care regularly, it can be harder to make a conscious effort to do so. Maybe you’re used to putting others first. Or, you might just feel too overwhelmed by other circumstances in your life. 

So, while it might sound easy to take better care of yourself, that isn’t always the case. For some people, sitting down and thinking about what they can do to care for their well-being is a difficult process. 

Everyone can benefit from self-care. Whether you feel overly stressed, anxious, or you know that you need to start taking better care of yourself, it’s never too late to start a self-care routine. Lack of self-care can lead to deeper concerns such as anxiety depression. To learn more about how parents sometimes experience depression, please click here.

If you’re having a hard time figuring out how to do that for yourself, feel free to contact me - you don't have to figure this out alone. I offer a complimentary phone consultation to all potential clients. To schedule yours in a matter of seconds, please check here. We can talk more about what self-care means to you.

That will make it easier to develop ideas and different things you can do each day to take care of yourself. Once you’re able to do that, it won’t be long before you start to experience some of the benefits. 

COMING SOON! A workshop for couples who are thinking about or planning to have a baby, who are expecting a baby or who have children already. Based on years of research and experience and developed by the Gottman Institute, this 12 hour workshop is designed to repair communication skills and jump start your relationship with your partner. For more information, please click here.


Jennifer Perera is a mom, spouse and Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has over a decade’s worth of experience in mental health. She has a private practice in New Jersey, with locations in Cranford and Princeton. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual, group and couples counseling. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum periods and those coping with a pregnancy loss or infertility. Her other passion is travelling to different parts of the world and her goal is to vacation in a different locale every time. She also has a great fondness for cats!


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