Self-care is any activity that we intentionally do in order to take care of our physical, mental and emotional health. Practicing self-care helps you avoid burn out, improve your mood and reduce anxiety. By taking care of yourself you’re able to be there for others when they need you.
As Karen Pickles from Stresscase puts it: “Self-care is simply putting yourself first so that you can be stronger to show up for others when the tough times come, because they will come.”
Every day our crisis line volunteers help service users identify self-care activities to help them get through the crisis they’re currently experiencing. Given this, who better to give self-care tips than them?
We asked our crisis line volunteers for their #1 self-care tip. Here’s what they had to say:
1. What I usually do is something that just lets me calm down, lets me take a break from life and breathe. This can be anything, reading a book, baking, painting, sketching, or even just hanging out with friends can be forms self-care. – Enameka
2. Take breaks and spend time doing something you love every day (even if it’s for five minutes). – Madison
3. My self-care is talking to God and connecting with the Quran and then doing an activity (homework, exercise, read a book). – Beautiful Soul
”Take breaks and spend time doing something you love every day (even if it’s for five minutes).” – Madison
Then we noticed a few themes had emerged.
Connecting with others:
4. Talking with my friends, family members, partner and colleagues about how I’m feeling or what’s going on that’s stressing me out. It helps me get out of my head and get some clarity. – Charlotte
5. I like receiving a hug from my husband and spending time talking with my kids. – Sue
6. Remember that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strong self-awareness. – Laura
7. Exercise! It’s great for stress relief, mentally and physically, it just feels so good to move. I always have a smile on my face after a good sweat! – Sue
8. I go directly to the Y and swim lengths and then soak in the hot tub! – Dee
9. Physical activity is a great way to clear your head. Rating something you enjoy boosts positive feelings.– Caroline
10. In order to take care of yourself I think it’s important to be healthy in all aspects – physically, socially, psychologically, etc. – so I think it’s important to make time to consistently work out, spend time with family and friends, and do what makes you happy (whatever that may be- Netflix, drawing, dancing). – Niloo
Just remember that it doesn’t need to be the most intense exercise you can do for it to be beneficial. Gentle yoga, going for a walk or dancing in your kitchen are all legitimate forms of exercise. Find something that you enjoy and will look forward to.
”Remember that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strong self-awareness.” – Laura
11. Any grounding exercise! Meditation is my go to, but anything that focuses your mind on the present and gets you out of spiraling or consuming thoughts can be extremely helpful. – Caroline
12. I love painting my nails. It feels like a mindful activity and then I have my nails looking pretty! – Sasha
13. Multiple mindful check-ins with myself to build awareness of how I am and what I need at that moment. Do I need rest, a meditation, movement, social connection, quiet time, creativity outlet sustenance – I’m learning that what I need is already inside me. I just need to check in with myself to ask myself, “How can I meet my needs in this moment?” – Amina
”I’m learning that what I need is already inside me. I just need to check in with myself to ask myself, ‘How can I meet my needs in this moment?”’ – Amina
14. I like to spend a good amount of time outside. I especially like getting out of the confines of cell service and using that as a time to disconnect and reset. Whether I go for a long hike or just out to a nice place, the quiet and landscape is quite refreshing. – Logan
15. Every early morning I make some coffee, light a candle, sit in my favourite comfy wing-back chair and then grab one of my kalimbas (African thumb piano) and play improvised music for close to an hour … best way to describe this experience is that it’s my daily ‘magic carpet ride’ which is incredibly calming, meaningful and enjoyable. – Pete
16. When I am feeling down, my go-to self-care method is a three step process:
I make sure I’m comfy – ie. put on sweatpants, pajamas, whatever,
2. I brew myself a cup of tea, and
3. I sit down and write in my journal.
I find that journalling is a really great way to get in touch with how I am feeling and sort through my emotions. It’s also a great way to practice some problem-solving or just relax. – August
”I find that journalling is a really great way to get in touch with how I am feeling and sort through my emotions. It’s also a great way to practice some problem-solving or just relax.” – August
Being told you need to make time for self-care when you already feel overwhelmed with things to do can feel frustrating. Here a few suggestions that add no extra time to your day:
17. I find it really helpful to incorporate self-soothing techniques into my day to help manage anxiety. For example, I will listen to relaxing YouTube videos while working if I can and I will take regular breaks from my day to incorporate some deep breathing and grounding techniques. – Charlotte
18. Make sure I’m clear in my mind about what is and isn’t within my control. – Laura
19. Listen to an uplifting playlist on Spotify. – Dee
20. Karen Pickles also had some suggestions for self-care when you have no time.
Not all of the above tips are going to appeal to you or be available to you. What is most important is – as our volunteer Enameka said, “Do things that make you feel good, that is the best form of self-care.”
If you need help identifying self-care activities that work for you, or you just need to talk, we are here to listen. Contact us by phone or online chat.