Self-Care 101: How to Start Caring for Yourself

Photo of Shem-shem Pablo

By Catia Michelle

I was twenty-two years old when I first heard someone use the phrase “Self Care”. Perhaps because, for over a year, I had been feeling sluggish, pasty, and weak (even going to the doctor twice for muscle pain and spasm) that my ears perked and I turned my head.
“Self Care? Explain!”
My friend, a woman I  have always admired for her non-anxious and inviting demeanor towards life, explained that she understood Self Care to be fundamentally the attitude that we are ultimately responsible, and capable of influencing, our own well-being, stress levels, physical health and comfort. She explained that she had first begun researching Self Care after spending a year as a chaplain at our local women’s prison, a windowless place where she spent hours a day hearing stories of abandonment, injustice and deep depression. She realized quickly upon starting there that her own mental health and physical stability would be compromised if she didn’t pay careful attention to her mind and body both before she went to work and when she came home.
Learning Self Care: What is it?
I was intrigued. Something in me knew that the past year of trying to rely on medications and doctors to feel more energized, calm and inspired was not working and was never going to work. I scoured the internet when I got home that day for anything pertaining to Self Care and I was swimming in information on how to have more energy, live a happier life, and rest better.
Many of the ideas I came across were essentially basic. For instance: drink more water. Go to bed on time. The difference was this: no longer were these things I wanted to do because I should do them, or because a health professional or blogger told me they would be good for me, they were practices I was choosing because I love myself and want to take care of my body, mind and spirit.
I have decided that Self Care, fundamentally is defined by an attitude of care towards my body, mind and spirit and an absence of the word “should”.
Is Self Care selfish?
Over time, I’ve learned that Self Care, too, also isn’t really just about me.
It does involve my community because often good Self Care means saying No, and having a community that understands No is vitally important. This is especially true because often, in the name of Self-Care, I have to say ‘No’ to things simply because I know they won’t be good for me in the long run.
As a pastor, this is really hard. I feel like I am being selfish, like I should show up to every event, be prepared to work long hours every Sunday, and make sure I’m actively involved in everything happening in my community. And when I say No to some of those things, it feels a lot easier to have a “real” excuse: “I’m sorry, I need to be home taking care of my Mother” or “I have a previous engagement”.
Saying “I”m sorry, but I really need some extra time to rest this week” doesn’t feel as legitimate.
But sometime last year I started saying that, because it was the truth, and it was really difficult to do at first. Some people didn’t understand.
But as I began choosing to practice great Self Care, I knew I needed to only choose activities that were really life-giving for me, and by doing so I would actually be modeling healthy behavior for my community.
And you know what?
Despite working to focus more on my Self, because I have greater energy  and more inspiration and better emotional health: I actually have more time and energy for my community and more openness in my heart to form deeper relationships.
And – That’s not selfish at all!
Editor’s Note: Catia Michelle is a pastor, who loves to write about motivation, routines/habits, mornings, and exercise. She maintains a blog, Joy For Today and commits to contributing on AMSDaily twice a month.


  1. CultFit says:

    Great post!

  2. May I Be... says:
  3. Well said!

  4. I am making my hubby read this one… He takes care of EVERYONE else first. I have always been “selfish” in this way. A lifetime of poor health has kinda made me have to be. But don’t you hate the word “selfish”? It has such negative connotations, when to me, being selfish is not only OK, it’s vital.

  5. I love the way you explain how self care isn’t selfish at all… Beautifully written.

  6. cruz2lose says:

    You have lifted me up more times than you know….I have nominated you for the Sunshine Award. : )

  7. tksoni says:

    Reblogged this on Life is…………...

  8. Taking care of self is very important on all levels. If we do not take care of us we are not able to share ourself with others. Pampering is allowed and needed. Jay

  9. Savira says:

    If we ignore the self then taking care of others also gets ignored or becomes without reason… Great post

  10. Kirsten says:

    Learning when to say ‘No’ has become an issue for me. Thank you for providing such a great perspective on why I need to do something that feels so selfish.

  11. living4bliss says:

    Women (me included) often get this “guilt” when it’s our turn. We spend so much time caring for everyone else that we forget to take care of ourselves. When we do, we think we are being selfish.

    I love how you reminded us that NOT taking care of ourselves is selfish because we are needed so much.

    Once again, thank you.

    • Catia says:

      It is so, so true that us women are often socialized into feeling like we HAVE to care for other’s first. Some of my best research on self-care has been essentially self-care for caretakers! My philosophy: if you have no energy to give to others, than you aren’t caring well! Care for ourselves first and then we will have energy, and trust, and joy and grace to pass on to those around us!
      Peace and Grace,

  12. haroldmillet says:

    Great post! That should be the attitude..

  13. Everyone loves what you guys are up too. This sort of clever work and exposure! Keep up the great works guys I’ve you guys to our blogroll.

  14. how to study says:

    Hi, I just stopped by to visit your blog and thought I’d say thanks for having me.


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