the importance of self care

Are you taking care of yourself?

It’s very easy to go through each day on autopilot, ignoring signs that we may need to slow down. But why should we take care of ourselves? Surely everything will just sort itself out right? Well no, actually. According to life coach Deirdre Massey, self care isn’t selfish, it’s essential.

Not convinced? Read on!

I was delighted to be asked recently to run two workshops on self-care with the Masters Community and Youth Work students in NUI Maynooth. Having worked as a community worker for over 10 years and having been through two redundancies during that time, I know all about using self-care to navigate challenging times.

What is self care?

Self-care can be defined as providing adequate attention to one’s own physical and psychological wellness. From a work perspective self-care is important to prevent burn-out, stagnation, resentment and frustration. The students identified a full tool box when it came to ideas for self-care. Everything from taking a deep breath, to nurturing relationships, to setting themselves a new challenge works. I was struck by the richness of ideas and experiences within the room.

While my workshops in NUI Maynooth were focused on self-care within the work context, I believe the learnings can be applied anywhere.

Personal and professional lives can’t exist independently. They are intertwined. Including self-care on a personal level will have a positive impact on our professional lives. Equally stress arising in a work context will make its way into our personal lives.

How to practice self care

When preparing for flight take-off, during the safety talk, we are told to put on our own oxygen masks first before attending to children. In the same way, we need to look after ourselves first before we can look after others. It’s not selfish. It’s essential. And we need to give ourselves permission. Whether it’s family, work or just keeping up with demands in life, we need to prioritise self-care as we would any other parts of our lives.

We all find ourselves at some point in the day giving to others, to a partner, children, in a work situation or within our wider family and social circle. So ask yourself the following question: What has been slipping down your priority list? Schedule some time for yourself and make it happen this week. We all know how to make ourselves feel better, we just don’t always do it.

Some examples

We are constantly bombarded with information. There are top ten tips for everything from healthy eating to the right kind of exercise and it can get overwhelming. The good news is that it’s not too difficult to figure out what to do. The most important thing to remember is to find what’s right for you.

Have a look at the links below and see which self-care practices you are drawn to.

  • There are some very simple but very effective ideas in this Tiny Buddha article:
  • Headspace’s popularity is growing and rightly so as a great introduction to meditation:
  • 10 keys to happier living that consistently tend to make life happier and more fulfilling:

Try something out for a week or two. And then review it. Did it work? Did you feel better? No?

Ok, try something else. Did that work? Great! Now, can you add in another small change? Life is a journey not a destination, so enjoy figuring out what works for you as you travel.

On the other hand

What happens when we are not looking after ourselves? Sometimes we get early warning signs, signs which indicate it’s time to take action to maintain our wellness. These signs may include anxiety, lack of motivation, avoiding others, overeating or not answering the phone. So much of our lives are lived on autopilot, it can be good to stop and check-in and see if we are where we want to be.

Take a few minutes to make a list of your early warning signs. Sometimes others can see them before we do. Ask your partner or friend what they have noticed. Become aware of your own signs and check in with yourself on a regular basis as you would with a friend. Take action when you need to.

Self-care is just one aspect of our life that leads to improvements and personal development. 


Deirdre Massey is a life and wellbeing coach. She is passionate about helping women get unstuck and regain their passion and confidence to follow their dreams.


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