The Essential Guide to Self-Care: Strategies, Benefits, and When to Seek Help

June 25, 2024

Why Self-Care Matters?

Self-care is the healthy practice of replenishing and nurturing oneself to ward off the effects of stress and emotional strain. It involves physical and emotional well-being, and adopting a compassionate attitude towards oneself. 

Despite its importance, practicing self-care doesn’t always come easy to everyone. It requires self-awareness and deliberate action. For some, self-care may seem selfish or even a waste of time, but that’s a misunderstanding of why it’s so important. 

What are Self-Care Strategies?

Self-care requires some awareness, balance, and flexibility. Awareness refers to recognizing symptoms of burnout through continuous self-reflection and being aware of your emotional state. Balance refers to achieving an equilibrium between your professional and personal life, between your stressors and your leisure activities, as well as maintaining healthy boundaries. Flexibility refers to your ability to adapt to the unpredictable nature of life by employing effective coping strategies and emotional regulation.

Research on self-care has found that physical health, social support, and spirituality are effective strategies to get recharged or rejuvenated.

Physical Health

  • Exercise enhances mood and health, even if done in smaller increments.
    • Walk 30 minutes daily
    • Try a yoga or workout app
    • Have a silent disco or join a dance class
    • Running or cycling
    • Weight lifting or climbing
  • Diet is just as important as exercise for your mental health.
    • Maintain a balanced diet and avoid excess
    • Stay hydrated to boost energy and focus
    • Monitor caffeine and alcohol intake to manage their impact on mood
  • Sleep impacts our energy, stress, and well-being.
    • Prioritize sleep by sticking to a schedule 
    • Minimize blue light exposure from screens before bedtime
    • Develop a bedtime routine to promote good sleep hygiene

Social Support

  • Your professional network
    • Seek out peer support and professional development from colleagues.
    • Receive guidance from supervisors to manage work challenges and self-care.
  • Your community
    • Join organizations to connect with your community.
    • Volunteer with local non-profit organizations.
  • Your inner circle
    • Seek therapy for personal mental health and well-being.
    • Rely on personal relationships, like friends and family, for support and balance.


  • Mindfulness is being fully conscious of present-moment experiences, attending to thoughts, emotions, and sensations without judgment.
  • Making meaning in work by engaging in work that aligns with personal values and beliefs to create a sense of purpose and fulfillment.
  • Using prayer as a means of connecting with your beliefs.
  • Spending time in nature to promote well-being and reduce feelings of isolation.
  • Practicing gratitude by acknowledging and appreciating the positive aspects of life and work.
  • Meaning-making refers to interpreting events through personal values, setting purposeful goals, and addressing existential issues through spiritual beliefs.

When Self-Care Doesn’t Work

When self-care strategies are not effective, consider taking the following steps:

Evaluate and Adjust Self-Care Strategies: Reflect on your current self-care practices. Sometimes, modifying your approach or incorporating new strategies can make a difference.

Reach Out for Social Support: Connect with trusted friends, family members, or support groups. Sharing your experiences and receiving emotional support can be highly beneficial.

Take a Break: If possible, taking time off work or reducing your workload can provide the necessary space to focus on your well-being.

Explore Alternative Therapies: Practices such as acupuncture, massage, or holistic therapies might offer additional relief.

Join a Support Group: Participating in a support group with others facing similar challenges can provide community and understanding.

Practice Mindfulness and Meditation: Engaging in mindfulness practices can help manage stress and improve emotional regulation.

Physical Health Check-Up: Sometimes physical health issues can affect mental health. Visiting a healthcare provider for a comprehensive check-up can rule out or address underlying health problems.

If you have severe or distressing symptoms that last 2 or more weeks, such as:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Changes in appetite or unplanned weight changes
  • Difficulty getting out of bed in the morning because of mood
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Loss of interest in things you usually find enjoyable
  • Inability to complete usual tasks and activities
  • Feelings of irritability, frustration, or restlessness

Seek Professional Help: Consulting with a mental health professional such as a therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist can provide specialized support and treatment.

Crisis Resources: In case of severe distress or suicidal thoughts, contacting crisis hotlines or emergency services is crucial for immediate help.

Self-care is an essential practice for maintaining physical, emotional, and mental well-being. It involves deliberate actions to replenish oneself and manage stress, encompassing physical health, social support, and spirituality. Despite its challenges, incorporating self-care into daily routines can lead to a more balanced and fulfilling life. When self-care efforts fall short, it is crucial to seek professional help, explore alternative therapies, and utilize crisis resources if necessary. By prioritizing self-care, individuals can enhance their resilience, reduce the risk of burnout, and improve their overall quality of life.

See How Tava Health Helps

See how Tava can help you increase retention, lower medical costs, and boost your culture. Our friendly platform easily plugs into all major HRIS tools as well as insurance carriers.
Request a Demo