What Does Self-Care Actually Look Like?

When you think of self-care, I’m sure a few different things come to mind. Relaxing, doing yoga, getting a massage, putting on your favorite mud mask until your face is so tight you can’t smile…. Yes, all these things are great. But are they really the basis of what grounds you and makes you feel whole?

Rest and relaxation are just one tiny part of what self-care looks like. There is so much more to taking care of yourself!! 

Here are 9 broad areas to get you thinking about different aspects of your life that could use a little TLC.

Gratitude and Mindfulness

Take some time to connect with yourself! Whether you’re meditating, listening to guided imagery, or taking in the sounds of nature…you are increasing your self-awareness. Start your day with 5 things you’re grateful for! You might be surprised at what you come up with.


Our environment can significantly affect us! Take time to think about your home, bedroom, or workspace. Does the space allow you to feel safe and take time for yourself when you need it? Think about lighting, noise, clutter, even the colors of your space!

Set Limits

It’s okay to say no. Setting boundaries and limits and asking others to respect those boundaries is crucial to your self-care. 

Ask for Help

We often may not ask for help until we’re at our breaking point or when there’s an emergency. Be proactive and ask for help early on! 

Family/Trusted Others

Prioritize time with those you love and care for! Take time to enjoy each other’s company, but also be real. We are human beings, not human doings. Be yourself and be genuine together. We may impress people with our strengths, but we connect with people through our weaknesses.


Our values are the foundation of our belief system, what we view as important. Take some time to reflect on your top values. Consider if your life currently reflects those values. If not, brainstorm how you can express your values in healthy ways. 

Interests, Hobbies, & Playfulness

Remember that book you started reading? Or the blanket you started knitting but then life happened? Return to old interests or learn something new! Learning something new helps improve your memory!

Exercise, Sleep, and Diet

The trifecta! These three (in balance/moderation) can improve mental health, reduce stress, and increase problem-solving. It’s important to consider your sleep hygiene, as well (ex: no screen time before bed, having a nighttime routine, saving your bedroom as a space for sleep). *If you are suffering from an eating disorder, talk to your treatment team about what an appropriate diet/exercise schedule could look like for you!

Social Community

Get involved with your community! Whether you volunteer, are involved in a faith/spiritual community, or connect with your culture, remember that YOU are an important part of your community. 

This list might feel daunting. That’s okay! Take one area at a time. Develop one goal, and work on that until you’ve achieved it. Then move down the list. 

Now…go! Take care of yourself ☺


About the author, Mackenzie Dajani, MA, LPC-R:

Mackenzie is a Resident in Counseling, providing counseling services at our Alexandria location. Mackenzie has her M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Marymount University and a B.A. in Psychology as well as Religious Studies from The College of William & Mary. She has completed internships working with diverse individuals, couples, and families. Mackenzie has completed the majority of her residency in an inpatient behavioral health hospital. She has clinical experience and a particular interest in working with adults, couples, anxiety, depression, relationship distress, grief, and motivation. Mackenzie offers Christian counseling, as well. 

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