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Looking after yourself, or ‘self-care’, is important in helping you to stay at the top of your form physically, emotionally and mentally. Learn more about what self-care is, why it’s important for wellbeing, and how to take good care of yourself.

This can help if:

  • you’re not looking after yourself
  • you’re feeling stressed and burnt-out
  • you’re feeling unhealthy.
Down syndrome boy smiling

What is self-care?

Basically, self-care is anything you do that helps to maintain your physical, mental or emotional health. Things like exercise, doing the things you love and using relaxation techniques are all good examples of self-care strategies. Self-care will help you feel healthy, relaxed and ready for whatever life throws at you.

Why is self-care important?

There are a lot of reasons why self-care is important, but here are a few of the main ones:

  • It keeps you healthy. Physical stuff like exercise can be a great form of self-care – it keeps you strong, burns off nervous energy and gives you a break from things that stress you out. But self-care doesn’t have to be just physical. Taking time out of your day to do something you enjoy, like gaming or reading a book, is also a great way to distract your mind and body from the stressful things in your life.
  • It helps you ‘recharge’. Some people use self-care as a way to unwind and de-stress after a long day or week. Taking a bubble bath, meditating, or even taking a nap can help you catch up on rest and ‘unplug’ from the outside world for a little while.
  • It can help you manage health issues. Self-care is effective for coping with physical or mental health issues. People with mental health issues can use self-care strategies to cope with symptoms that may feel overwhelming or unmanageable. Self-care helps them live their lives as fully as possible.

Strategies for self-care

Although you can practise self-care at any time, it works best if you make it part of your daily routine.

Here are six strategies to help you make self-care an essential part of your daily life:

  1. Make time for it. Set aside time each day to practise self-care. Even if it’s just a few minutes, or as long as an hour or two, make a date with yourself and do something that makes you feel good or relaxed.
  2. Don’t double-book. If a friend or co-worker wants to see you or needs a favour during your self-care time, tell them you’re busy. Because you are busy. Busy looking after yourself!
  3. Be prepared. Have a list handy of self-care activities that you like, or want to try. Some possible options include: swimming, walking, meditating, napping, reading, watching TV, doing yoga or breathing exercises, cooking, drawing, playing sport, hanging out with pets, gaming or journaling. Have you missed anything? Put it on the list!
  4. Tune-in. At the start of your self-care ‘date’, take a moment to tune in to how you’re feeling at that very moment. What self-care activity would work best for you right then?
  5. Learn to switch off. This can be hard, especially if you’re used to thinking about your school or work problems at home. But self-care is the time to focus only on you! If switching off is a challenge for you, try doing something that diverts your attention, such as solving a puzzle or reading a book.
  6. Learn some quick fixes. If you’re absolutely frazzled and short on time, learn some strategies that you can focus on for just a few minutes. Breathing exercises and stretching are great, as you can do them quickly and just about anywhere!

What can I do now?