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Self Care

What is Self-Care? (And What Isn’t)

Do you make time for self-care?


Many of us think of self-care as being indulgent or selfish; something that would be nice to do ‘if only we had the time.’ Actually, self-care is essential for wellbeing and preventing stress and burnout, and it’s time well spent. So what is self-care and what isn’t?

What is self-care?

Self-care is any action you take that improves your wellbeing, no matter how small. It can take many forms, from taking time to relax with your favourite book to eating well or spending time on a hobby you love.

Why is self-care important?

It’s tempting to think of taking time for yourself as an indulgence or a ‘reward’ for completing your to-do list for the day. But self-care is not just a nice thing to do, it’s a necessity. Think of it as ongoing maintenance which can both prevent physical and mental ill health and reduce its impact.

One thing practising self-care can help with is reducing stress, and the statistics show we need help with that more than ever. A survey carried out by Ciphr in 2021 found that one in five people in the UK feel stressed on most days each month. Lack of sleep and money worries were the main causes of stress for respondents, followed closely by work and family problems.

Practical ways to make time for self-care in your life

If you currently don’t take time out for self-care, you might be wondering where to start. We recommend starting by asking yourself these questions to gauge how you’re feeling and what you need more (or less of) in your life:

What do I need more of?- this could be needing more time to yourself or conversely, more time connecting with others.

What do I need less of?- maybe you need fewer commitments in your diary.

Is there anything in my life that’s making me feel resentful?- are you saying yes when you should be saying no?

How am I actually feeling right now?- this is such an important question to ask yourself. So many of us live life on autopilot, dealing with the next ‘thing’ without stopping to think about how we really feel.

Easy ways to engage in self-care

Self-care can be much simpler than you think. Try:

Focusing on getting quality sleep

Taking a daily walk in nature

Making yourself some nourishing food

Savouring the taste of your first tea or coffee in the morning

Spending time with a pet

Catching up with a good friend

Engaging in positive self-talk

Asking for help

Setting boundaries with others and saying no when you have a lot on your plate

Prioritising your own needs

Even taking time out to organise your finances and pay some bills can actually be self-care if it contributes in a positive way to your wellbeing

What Self-Care Isn’t

You’ll often see people doing something expensive or elaborate online and calling it self-care. The thing about self-care is that it’s not really about self-indulgence, it’s self-preservation. While there’s nothing wrong with having a spa day, a long relaxing soak at the end of the day can be just as good for the body, mind, and soul.

Self-care is also not about helping others to the extent that you’re failing to prioritise your own needs. When you’re feeling low, helping others can make you feel good, but don’t forget that your needs and your wellbeing matters too.

Want to know more about how to integrate self-care into your life?

There’s some really useful information in our knowledge base about things like sleep and stress.


If you work in HR or manage people, you’re perfectly placed to spot the signs of stress and poor mental health in the workplace. We run in-person training workshops on everything from stress to self-care. Get in touch to find out more about how we can help your team. 

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