By: Anna Gardner LCPC, LADC
Self-care has become a buzzword in recent years, particularly as the nation has faced a global pandemic and all the stress that comes with it. When the pandemic is added to academics, work, family, and a variety of other stressors; coping with stress becomes a top priority.
Self-care is also an important aspect in managing mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression. Self-care sounds nice but similar to semantic satiation (say the word apricot 50 times in a row), it has perhaps become meaningless with overuse. Self-care can also be frequently misunderstood or used inaccurately. So let us take a moment to contemplate the term self-care, and address any misconceptions.
Self-care is taking action which promotes one’s health and wellbeing. While certain self-care actions can be done to address or manage feelings or symptoms, it is also preventative in nature, with long-term benefits. Examples of self-care include exercise, a healthy diet, sleep hygiene, taking regularly prescribed medications, establishing and maintaining daily structure. Self-care can also include other people such as maintaining healthy relationships, engaging in therapy, regular visits to the dentist, volunteerism.
Self-Care is intrinsically connected to self-efficacy, A, B, and C cannot occur without some self-regulatory skills. As such, it is not always easy to do. This writer posits that increased practice of self-care, particularly when associated with success, may increase self-efficacy, and foster an internal locus of control.
A common misconception about self-care is that it is synonymous with the phrase “treat yourself.” Self-care is often misconstrued as a self-soothing behavior. Examples of self-soothing might include meditation, listening to happy music, watching a favorite TV show, or eating a bowl of ice cream.
There are many forms of self-soothing, on a wide spectrum from maladaptive to adaptive. Self-soothing behaviors can help us cope with intense moments of distress, providing a sense of joy or comfort. Sometimes self-soothing behaviors such as meditation, are in fact very adaptive and are also methods of self-care. Other behaviors which can be self-soothing may not help us in the long run, and can even be unhealthy without moderation.
In conclusion, self-care is not always the easy choice. Self-care does not always feel good, but it is good for you. So perhaps, for the New Year make a commitment to yourself, knowing that you deserve the time and effort it takes to practice true self-care!
[A] Hyde, J., Hankins, M., Deale, A., & Marteau, T. M. (2008). Interventions to Increase Self-efficacy in the Context of Addiction Behaviours: A Systematic Literature Review. Journal of Health Psychology, 13(5), 607–623. https://doi.org/10.1177/1359105308090933
[B] Peyman, N., Shahedi, F., Abdollahi, M., Doosti, H., & Zadehahmad, Z. (2020). Impact of Self-Efficacy Strategies Education on Self-Care Behaviors among Heart Failure Patients. The journal of Tehran Heart Center, 15(1), 6–11.
[C] Aljasem, L. I., Peyrot, M., Wissow, L., & Rubin, R. R. (2001). The Impact of Barriers and Self-Efficacy on Self-Care Behaviors in Type 2 Diabetes. The Diabetes Educator, 27(3), 393–404. https://doi.org/10.1177/014572170102700309