How to Actually Practice Self-Care

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Are you taking care of yourself? Self-care is easily dismissed as a luxury for those with free time and disposable income, but it’s really essential to our well-being. Claire gives you some tips on how to incorporate real self-care into your life. Plus, she answers a question from a listener who needs help with burnout at home and at work.

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Claire Bidwell-Smith

Claire Bidwell-Smith  00:00

Yeah, yeah, we all know about self-care. But are you actually doing it?

Claire Bidwell-Smith

Hi, I’m Claire Bidwell-Smith. And that’s what we’re talking about on NEW DAY. Now in your feed three times a week. self-Care, self-care, self-care. As a therapist, I talk about it all the time. And as a person in the world, I hear about it all the time. But what really is self-care? And what does it actually look like? And wait, why do we have to do it in the first place? Okay, so the simple answer is that we have to take care of ourselves, because obviously, shit falls apart if we don’t, we simply can’t manage work and families and just life in general if we’re falling apart all the time. But the truth is that I think a lot of people think of self-care as a luxury, not a priority. And often, we don’t start taking care of ourselves until we’re forced into it. Like when we hit rock bottom, or we’re facing burnout, or we’ve actually made ourselves sick from stress and overworking. self-care is not a luxury. It’s not bubble baths and expensive massages. Let me say it again, self-care is not a luxury, it’s a priority. We simply can’t manage stress and work and all the obligations that come with our lives when we’re not in an optimal state. But optimal states don’t just happen naturally. They require diligence and effort. It’s proven that self-care reduces anxiety in depression. It improves resilience, happiness, energy, self-care reduces burnout, it strengthens our relationships. I mean, come on, doesn’t that sound good to you? I know I want those things. So how do we go about this self-care thing? Here are five ways I break it down. physical self-care, that’s the first one. We need adequate sleep. We need proper nutrition for eating well, we need to exercise and nothing crazy, go for some walks, go to a yoga class here and there. And we just need relaxation time. I know these are basic, but getting enough of all of these will help you do the hard stuff, we can actually better regulate our emotions when we’re in a good physical space. So just seriously, take a look. Ask yourself, Could you be doing better in any of these areas? I bet the answer is yes. The next one is social self-care. Are you getting enough time with friends and family? Are you getting enough alone time? Whichever one you need to work on, get started. Prioritize some fun with friends, or tell the people around you that you need a break. And you’re going to take some time to rest and rejuvenate and you’ll be back soon.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  02:37

The third one is mental self-care. Our actual brains need care. Are you stimulating yourself enough? Try reading more listening to some interesting podcasts, going to a lecture or a talk or sign up for an online class. Or you can get a therapist to help you untangle all that stuff in your brain. And my favorite meditation, I’m gonna keep talking about meditation because it really is amazing. The fourth one is spiritual self-care. Are you giving yourself time to think about the larger meaning of life? Read some spiritual books. Seek out religious or spiritual centers. Let yourself ponder big questions about life. Talk about them with loved ones. Go on a meditation or yoga retreat if you can. The last one is emotional self-care. When was the last time you cried? If it’s been a while, let yourself have a good one. Or how are you managing your anger or anxiety, try to find out what’s beneath those emotions. So you can make space for any sadness or fear you may be carrying around. You can always find a therapist to help you process some of the stuff that you’ve been holding on to and not dealing with. Look, keeping a healthy check on all of these things means you will be able to live your life more fully. You’ll have better relationships; you’ll be more productive at work. Self-Care is actually important, and not just something other people need to be doing. We all need to take care of ourselves. So give yourself permission to start today. And if the idea of self-care feels huge and overwhelming, start small and just try one tiny thing I mentioned. Dip that toe in the water. It will make a difference. I promise.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  04:20

Now it’s time for your questions. Do you have something you want to ask me? Send me an email at or fill out the form at the link is in the show notes. It can be about absolutely anything. I know I’m a grief therapist, but I love talking about relationships, family, just anything that’s on your mind. You can sign your name or asked to remain anonymous. And then check out these episodes every Monday and Wednesday where I answer your questions. Today we have a question from Kate in Canada. She says how are you not burned out? Tips and tricks for doing it all. What do you do that’s just for you? How do we as moms At the break we need before we’re forced into it. I’m a mother of three and work full time and I’m recovering from a concussion. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say it’s the best thing that ever happened to me. How do I find this piece without almost dying? I’m sorry to laugh about the concussion that is no fun. But I can so relate to the overworked overstressed mom stuff. And I totally understand that being forced to be out of commission must be kind of awesome. But ah, I just, I really get it. I think, you know, this idea that you’re having a realization that you need to make some changes to your life, and that you want to be able to do that without being on the verge of death, or, you know, serious illness, it’s a lot that we’re all facing, I have constant moments where I literally just can’t believe that I have to juggle as much as I do. Like, I just, I don’t know how I’m gonna do it. I don’t know why I’m supposed to do it. And I just really understand where you’re coming from, I hit walls, and I feel burnout and exhaustion. And sometimes I just want to run away. And I know, that’s ridiculous, obviously. But just to say I get it. So I think that there’s some things you need to do so that you can really consider how much longer you can keep up this much stress, which it sounds like you can’t, I think we need more breaks, I think we need to find more things that are just for us. And I think there are things that you can try and that I can try. have an honest conversation with your kids and your family.

Claire Bidwell-Smith  06:26

Tell them about your insights of being forced into needing this break. really explain to them what it’s felt like and what you’ve thought about and how much stress you realize you’re under. Maybe you guys could have like a family meeting where everyone throws out ideas of how they could help out more, I think one thing to do is to also ask yourself, if everything you’re taking on is really that important. Are there places where you could be delegating more responsibility to other people. And I’m serious about this one, because I know for myself, that I just do everything in my household because I feel like I’ll get it done faster and better and right. But that doesn’t really matter, right? Like when it comes down to this point where we’re facing this much stress and burnout, my husband doing something that maybe he is not going to do perfectly is better than you know me collapsing from all the stress. I think also marking out time and your actual calendar for self-care and joyful activities and getting serious about doing these things. The calendar stuff really works for me, I if something is in my calendar, I will do it. So even if it’s something frivolous or fun or relaxing, I will do it. And plus I’m making space for it and not filling up that space with other boring, stressful work things. And let your family know that you’re going to be taking this time and doing these things for yourself. Lastly, give yourself permission to just let everything be a little messier, you know, so maybe the carpets need to be vacuumed or the bathrooms need to be a little cleaner. But you’re also having fun and more relaxed and present to your life. You know, we can’t make it all happen all the time. I get it work, kids money, housework family obligations, it’s a lot. I think it’s really good that you’ve had this realization. I think it’s something you need to continue thinking about journaling about having conversations with yourself and your family about. There’s a whole bunch of practices that I have been putting out here that all will help with this, like so many about looking at what really matters in your life or starting your day screen free. Pretty much all the tips I give here are ones that I’m trying to put in practice for myself. So I also don’t need to get a concussion in order to get a break. But Kate, you know, I love that you’re just acknowledging the fact that it’s time for a change, time to move in a different direction. We get this one life. And even when it’s really hard to focus on ourselves in the middle of all this potent time, you’re not going to regret taking care of yourself. It’s the rest you’ll regret if you keep trying to keep it up this way. Thank you so much for your question, Kate.

Claire Bidwell-Smith 

That’s it for today. Thank you so much for listening to new day. We’ve got three episodes every week now. I hope you’re loving the new format. On Mondays and Wednesdays you’ll get a tip from me and I’ll answer a question from you. And then on Fridays we have a longer interview with a guest. Make sure you come right back here on Wednesday. I’ve got some tips for finding your truest self, but not in the cheesy way you may be hearing that I swear. See you then.


NEW DAY is a Lemonada Media Original. The show was produced by Kryssy Pease and Erianna Jiles. Kat Yore is our engineer. Music is by Hannis Brown. New Day is produced in partnership with the well-being trust the Jed foundation and Education Development Center. Thanks for listening.

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