by: Alicia-Ann Samuel, LMHC, NCC
Published by: RallyUp Magazine
Repeat after me: Self-care is more than getting a Birkin bag or a week stay in an over
water villa in Maldives. Self-care goes beyond that one-time purchase for a deep tissue
massage. The thought of self-care often feels like it is beyond ones reach due to the
notion implied by countless pictures found on social media, that self-care must be a
luxurious item or an experience. Though for some, luxurious items or experience may
indeed, be self-care (e.g., taking a bath while burning the newest candle for Jackie
Ania’s Forvr mood candle collection), it is important to understand that self-care goes
beyond a price tag.
So, what exactly is self-care?
According to research, self-care is defined as one’s continuous commitment to a healthy
lifestyle. It is said to be multidimensional in nature, due to the various layers (i.e., 5 core
elements) that is necessary in taking care of oneself. Self-care means to engage in
health-promoting practices that enhance ones functioning and overall quality of life
(Ayala et al., 2017). The essence of self-care is self-awareness; you must pay attention to
YOU if you intend to take care of YOU. Mind boggling, isn’t it? I am not surprised if a
mental alarm is going off as one reads the statement “you must pay attention to you”
and a defense mode kicks in because that statement sounds selfish.
How can we put into practice self-care if our parents taught us to be selfless?
As mentioned earlier, some may feel that self-care is tied to a hefty price tag while
others view self-care as being selfish. If you practice self-care, then it must mean you
have a diagnosis of narcissistic personality disorder! Well as a licensed mental health
counselor, I am here to reassure that there is nothing selfish about self-care and
encourage you to refrain from self-diagnosing. Have you ever been on a flight? As the
plane prepares to take off, flight attendants spend a few minutes going over the plane
safety instructions. During their safety instructions, they will go over what to do in the
event oxygen is needed. The key part of the oxygen speech that they emphasize is that
it is vital that you put on your own mask before helping others put on theirs. We cannot
successfully be there for others unless we take care of ourselves which is why self-care is not considered selfish and should be practiced.
Self-care does not belong to one tax bracket, race, or religion. It is invaluable
practice that everyone should try to incorporate daily. Self-care is a physiological and
psychological shield that preserves our mind, body, and spirit. It refuels us so that we
can do more than just live to survive, we can thrive!
Now that you have an improved understanding of self-care, let’s dive into the 5 core
elements of self-care and explore what each element entails:
1. Physical: Our interior and exterior go hand in hand. Keeping the physical body
healthy can greatly improve your mental well-being. Physical self-care can
include embarking on a fitness journey, eating a balanced diet, getting adequate
rest, or learning the latest TikTok dances. The goal of physical self-care is to keep
your body actively moving, so get up and get moving!
2. Mental: How you think greatly impacts your feelings and behavior! Mental self-care
may include going to therapy, completing a self-reflection journal, reading self-help
books, asking for help, or learning something new. A healthy mind allows for a healthy
outlook on life especially during our most challenging moments.
3. Emotional: You behave based on how you feel! Emotional self-care focuses on
fueling our mind and body with things that make us deeply feel. Emotional self-care may
be allowing yourself to cry, finding time to laugh, saying I love you or giving yourself a
gift just because. Whatever you feel positively passionate about, go for it!
4. Spiritual: Spiritual self-care is said to be any ritual or practice that helps us tap into our
higher self. For some, spiritual self-care may include praying to ones God or going deep
into the forest to be one with nature. Spiritual self-care focuses on being more mindful,
present, and grateful for ourselves and those around us.
5. Personal: Personal self-care really emphasizes the importance of self-awareness and
improving your overall functioning. Within this core element, each of the previous core
elements of self-care are combined to help improve who you are overall. Personal self-
care strategies may include developing and accomplishing goals, improving yourself
professionally and/or academically or just learning more about your temperament and
There is no one self-care plan for all, do what is best for you! Remember to take care of
yourself and stay therapeutically beautiful!
Ayala, E. E., Ellis, M. V., Grudev, N., & Cole, J. (2017). Women in health service psychology programs: Stress, self-care, and quality of life. Training and Education in Professional Psychology, 11(1), 18.