What Does Self Care Mean To You?

In honour of this year’s International Self Care Day, we asked our wonderful clients, team and Instagram community to tell us how they perceive self-care and incorporate it into their lives…


  1. What does self-care mean to you?

Beth: Taking time for yourself, saying no when you need to & doing things that nourish your soul, even if it’s as small as a face mask & a bath

gracefuelled: To me, self-care means so much more than little things that give you temporary happiness. These things may make you feel good for a moment, but I feel that true self-care is so much deeper, allowing yourself to open up about how you truly feel on the inside. I feel that self-care is often portrayed in a superficial, almost ‘fluffy’ way, when actually I think true self-care is allowing yourself space to feel whatever you feel, even if that is uncomfortable. I  think it’s an opportunity to remind yourself that you are only human, and that you need time to rest  and re-energise

toria_badass: Putting me first

srtagleason: Doing things that make me happy. Staying present in those feelings of joy

hannah.haahr: Taking care of my ED and challenging myself, even though it’s hard

sarar0ssen: I try to refrain from being such a people-pleaser all the time. It is so emotionally exhausting

r._.e: It means letting my body and mind rest – taking in all that I am  and embracing it

silke_213: Doing the opposite of what my ed tells me

hannahlond: Doing stuff for you! Whatever you feel helps boosts you

kingkaty99: It means doing what’s best for your body and mind. Listening to your intuitive wants

frances93x: Being happy

angierjmiller: Taking time out for myself and dealing with what I know will make me feel anxious if I don’t

itslaurahill: Slowing down

lilbbbirb98: Loving yourself and others despite who hurts us

jana.malki: A break from work and from socialising

morgan.larick: Self-care means eating mindfully and paying attention to my body’s needs

caaraestellex: Focusing on YOU for a moment and pampering yourself, doing the things that usually make you feel good

heatherltaylor: Finding a space I can completely let me guard down, not have to be everything for everyone

kanye.no.k: Taking time to healthily pour back into your cup

lucyyhendo: Looking after yourself in ways no-one else can do for you

recovery_lizzzx: To be softly with me instead of judging me or my body. I think self-care starts with the acceptance that you do need self-care

beckymarson82: Looking after yourself especially in stress and prioritising yourself. Setting boundaries with others

fella_erlong: Giving myself a break from self loathing. To do something for myself without punishment

sarah_sharesfood: For me self-care means not exercising every day and taking the rest when needed. It means spending time by myself and figuring out  what is important to me. 

shani_tal1: For me, it means showing yourself compassion and trying not to judge myself for feeling certain ways. It is about being there for myself


  1. Has your perception of self-care changed, particularly with the events of this year?

Beth: Yes, this year I’ve realised how lovely it is to spend more time at home, pottering around not doing a lot!

toria_badass: It’s about the boring things as well as the nice things

ionacapri: More emphasis on connecting with others as a form of self-care

hannah.haahr:  I used to think that self-care was taking care of my body, like going for a run and starving myself but now I know that self-care is allowing myself to eat my recovery food, and maybe stay in bed all day

sarar0ssen: I’m more able to associate self-care with being in my own presence instead of others

r._.e: Instead of extra rest it became making sure I met my physical and social needs

hannahlond: Yes and no. Made me really question what things I wanted to include in my self-care

kingkaty99: Learnt it’s letting yourself lie in PJs and feel emotions rather than mask life with jobs and tasks

angierjmiller: Yes. Self-care is quiet time. I originally confused self-care with meaning bubble baths!

louisefairbrother: Yes. Self-care isn’t just physical things you can do. It is also internal and not visible

itslaurahill: Realising a healthy balance between being alone and being with friends

morgan.larick: Yes. I used to slap on a face mask and say “self-care” without doing basics like eating

caraestellex: I always rely on the “girly things” like getting my nails done. Without nail shops, I’ve had to find new things to enjoy

heatherltaylor: I’m realising it’s not selfish/neglecting others to care for me

soy_milk365: Suffering with ED I found pampering myself just as beneficial

liliadelobel: It used to be face masks and nails but now it’s drinking enough water and a break

beckymarson82: No it hasn’t changed

s.arahwall: It’s really crucial for my relationship with others

geo_rae_xs: No, I was always a big advocate for it

recovery_lizzzx: Basically yes. I had more time to spend doing creative stuff where I had  the opportunity of expressing myself and to do things that are good for me and calm me down

sarah_sharesfood: Yes. I think I was on the right path at the start of the year but all of the things that happened have reinforced to me how important it is to listen to my body and what it needs instead of constantly worrying what others will think or say


  1. What are some of the misconceptions around self-care?

Beth: That it has to be ‘another thing’ to add to your to do list such as learning to and enjoying meditation. It’s different for everyone and hugely dependent on the person and what makes them feel good

Marissa: I often hear clients say that self care is just about candles and nail vanish. While these can be an important part of caring for one self, I believe that self-care is simply responding to the body and mind. EG it is having a rest when tired, taking medicine if feeling poorly, eating when hungry, saying NO when one does not want to do something, not doing exercise because of fatigue or having more fun things to do, reading or watching TV for joy and fun rather than self-improvement. It is about saying “this is what I need and I am going to honour that”.

Anon: That it’s all about the practical things –  skin care, candles, meditating etc – which of course are super important. However, what is equally important that can get looked over is emotional Self-Care. Are you able to acknowledge when you are feeling sad/frustrated/lonely etc, and are you allowing yourself to really feel these things? Sometimes people view ‘negative’ emotions as though they should be avoided at all costs, but to embrace them and give space to these authentic feelings can be one of the most self-caring practices. It stops us from numbing and reaching for potential self-harming behaviours to distract or avoid. Try allowing yourself to feel these more painful emotions and finding different ways to self sooth by journaling, drawing, listening to music, going on a gentle walk and speaking kindly to yourself! Self-Care is different for everyone, don’t try and force other people’s self-caring practices if they don’t feel right for you, this isn’t very self-caring! However, it is always good to re-visit practices that maybe haven’t worked for you in the past, they may work now!

toria_badass: It’s selfish

srtagleason: It’s all about relaxing/recharging

ionacapri: The belief self-care is practical and tangible when in fact it can be simple and cost free

hannah.haahr: Self-care is doing what you want to do not if my ed is telling me to starve

r._.e: It can often be misinterpreted as selfishness

soy_milk365: That it’s all pampering. It’s not always things that’ll make you feel good initially (therapy)

heatherltaylor: That it’s big extravagant things

lupita_mart27: It should be earned

caraestellex: Self-care doesn’t have to be one thing, you’re free to mix it up

jessblckman5588: Lazy

gmnn.l: You can’t do self-care everyday

tylenolwithwisky: That you have to deserve it or to “be good.” Self-care is a necessity

sarah_sharesfood: I think some people believe that self-care is all about exercise. For me self-care means not exercising every day and taking the rest when needed. It means spending time by myself and figuring out  what is important to me


  1. Are there any cultural differences in the perception of self-care? e.g. is it wholeheartedly embraced in one culture and dismissed in another?

Beth: Yes, I think like everything in life its dependent on the individual and self-care is influenced by our external factors too, such as family traditions which often evolve around our culture

ionacapri: Spanish have siestas focusing more on sleep and reenergising

hannahlond: I think everyone has different perceptions on what self-care is

jana.malki: I think it depends on the family and whether or not they accept mental health

r._.e: Of course! Over-working is often praised in American culture!

heatherltaylor: In Christianity it feels like if you need self-care you’re somehow not doing religion right

tylenolwithwisky: Yes, I’m from Serbia/Russia and Slavic people, especially women, don’t do it

kingkaty99: Culturally I find men aren’t allowed to engage in self-care as it’ll make them seem weak

kanye.no.k: Yes. I know an African American woman, I often feel that there isn’t enough value placed on mental health by the black community. This subsequently trickles down to not completely understanding and acknowledging the need for self-care


  1. What are some of your favourite self-caring activities or affirmations?

Beth: Declining weekend plans and getting cosy indoors (or outside in the sunshine) with a book and my puppy. “I treat myself with compassion”

Anon: Write/draw what self-care ISN’T to you, this can help define what self-care means to you if you are struggling.

srtagleason: Painting while listening to music

hannah.haahr: Stay in bed watching netflix and focus on the movie instead of the food

ionacapri: Going for a walk, listening to music

frances93x: Reading a book, making a cup of tea and eating chocolate

r._.e: I enjoy doing yoga, taking naps, reading, writing and painting. Expressing and connecting

silke_213: Figure skating. It’s the only activity that completely takes my mind off ed-related stuff

hannahlond: Baking, taking time for myself, going for walks, baths

kingkaty99: Giving myself space, watching my favourite film and clean fresh bedding

angierjmiller: Journaling, video diary, meditation, making art with my kids

caraestellex: Disney movies, getting my nails done, fake tanning, going to the cinema

heatherltaylor: Hot baths, music, reading, sitting alone in the sun

recovery_lizzzx: I really really love playing the piano. It calms me down and helps me to let things go

beckymarson82: Craft, candles, watching dancers, distancing myself from needy friendships

s.arahwall: Reading, good comedy tv show, blasting music

mlhorsham: Having a coffee at my favourite cafe or saying no to things that don’t make me feel good

shani_tal1: Putting my phone away if social media is giving me anxiety. Journaling my feelings and writing affirmations. Going for a stroll along the coast

sarah_sharesfood: Taking a break from working out if I need to, being by myself, getting out into nature, being with family, reading. Also having tech time.

geo_rae_x: Bath, walk in nature, saying no, cooking, baking, painting my nails

jana.malki: “Choose a time to rest or your body will choose it for you”

itslaurahill: “I am soft, I am strong, I can do hard things”

morgan.larick: “Recovery isn’t linear. I am enough”

sofi_al1: My health first, others then

Anon: “If you struggle to get out of bed, you still do, then you are truly a fighter; when the world goes dark on you, as weak as you feel, you will find the strength to shine brighter”

kanye.no.k: Journaling, video games, self reflection, baths, spending time with family, a nice walk and talking to myself. My favourite affirmation is “this feeling is not you, it is moving through you, and it can leave out the same door it came in”


  1. How do you make sure you’re regularly prioritising self-care?

Beth: Checking in with yourself and giving yourself a moment to evaluate where you are and how you’re feeling is helpful

ionacapri: Having to write it into my daily plan

silke_213: Setting up specific times/dates for self-care

hannah.haahr: I don’t. It’s something I’ve learned myself to remember

itslaurahill: Daily journaling to check in with myself

frances93x: I do it daily

jana,malki: Set a routine and work schedule so your self-care will be guilt-free

hannahlond: Try to make time where I can and get into routines

kingkaty99: I’ll feel a build up of anxiety inside and I’ll take days to reset and wind down again

soy_milk365: I make sure I socialise outside of my family every week and treat myself to things once a month

angierjmiller: I actively listen to myself … if something’s off, I run, read, meditate, talk with my partner

beckymarson82: Reminding myself in a morning, especially weekends, when I struggle the most with my mental health

s.arahwall: Have a checklist of the simple stuff, ie brushing teeth, washing face etc

geo_rae_x: Every Sunday is my day but I do make time in the week if I need more

recovery_lizzzx: Every evening I write down positive and negative things that happened to me on that day. Additionally the things that are positive about myself on that day which kind of remind me of self-care especially when I had forgotten it

r._.e: I think this is the best part about self-care! That you don’t really HAVE to think about it too much. It shouldn’t feel like another task in my opinion. Simply checking in with how you’re feeing every once on a while will help you understand what your body/mind needs. Or,  setting up specific classes that you attend certain days throughout the week (yoga, painting, or anything that speaks to you). I think therapy is also incredibly helpful! Even if you don’t struggle with mental health it’s a fantastic way to keep yourself healthy, happy and successful


  1. Why is it so important to keep going even when you’re feeling better in yourself?

Beth: The world is constantly changing around us, and it’s important for us to be adaptable and open to change too. When it comes to nourishing ourselves mentally and emotionally, there is always more we can do

srtagleason: Because there is always room to grow and find other ways to love and value yourself

ionaacapri: Self-care is like the air, you can’t see it or its quality until it starts to get polluted with negativity

jana.malki: I think rewarding yourself is a propeller for further advancement

r._.e: So that you will continue to feel that way long-term

sofi_a.l1: Because it’s your most important relationship

caraestellex: Your life is your story. You have to start treating yourself like the main character

healtherltaylor: Because taking care of yourself is never wrong. You’re your best when you feel good

frances93x: To continue feeling good in yourself

angierjmiller: It’s like an investment…one day you might need to draw on it

sofieshealthjourney: You feel good because you’re taking care of yourself. That’s the time to keep it up

beckymarson82: So it becomes the ‘norm’. To keep a well balanced mindset. To set an example to others

tylenolwithwisky: Because it should be like a lifelong friendship, you should treat yourself like you would treat others

geo_rae_x: So I don’t spiral and to truly love and care for myself.

recovery_lizzzx: It is important because it’s something you always have to repeat so that your brain/soul really gets that you are worth living.A reminder that you are not at war with yourself

sarah_sharesfood: Self-care, in whatever form it takes for the individual, is important for promoting positive mental  health in my opinion. Keeping up positive mental health is a process and a practice that needs to be worked on repeatedly.


How to Easily Prioritise Yourself and Make Self Care Part of Every Day
Book Club: The Little Book of Self Care
The Self Care Conundrum: Why Those Who Feel They Don’t Deserve It Are The Ones Who Need It Most


We believe in inspiring and empowering all women to move beyond destructive coping strategies and to learn how to love who they really are. There is a more meaningful future out there waiting for you, free from trauma, eating disorders, body dysmorphia, anxiety and depression, and we are here to show you the way. Reach out to our friendly advice team confidentially today to learn more about how our outpatient clinic and/or online program can be tailored to you.



Have you got a story or learnings to share about your mental health? Then we’d love to hear from you. Whether you want to talk about your own recovery journey or how you have supported a loved one with their healing, you could give others hope who are experiencing something similar. We’re open to all ideas and you can absolutely remain anonymous if you prefer.

Posted in , by The Recover Clinic