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Just What The Doctor Ordered – Selfcare


It’s no secret that some view self-care as selfish, but nothing could be further from the truth. Self-care is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle; not a luxury reserved for a chosen few with extra time and money on their hands. It is true that the mere mention of “self-care” often evokes images of spa retreats and beach vacations. While these indulgent experiences have their merits, they are just a small part of the broader concept of self-care.

Dr. Robyn L. Gobin in her best-selling book, The Self-Care Prescription (Gobin, 2019), explains that self-care involves “spending dedicated time getting to know who you are and what you need, and then committing to giving yourself what you need to be happy, healthy and fully present for your life.”  When we think of self-care in that light, it becomes clear why it is such an important part of happy and healthy living.

The Need for Self-Care

Self-care is not just a nice thing to do. Self-care contributes to improved physical, mental and emotional health. It can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase your energy. We know that when chronic stress is not managed, it can wreak havoc on your health, weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to health issues such as colds, stomach pains, high blood pressure and heart disease (Self-Care Isn’t Selfish: 17 Tips for Making Yourself a Priority, 2023).

“When we optimize self-care, we feel better, look better, and have more energy”, says Monica Vermani in the Psychology Today article, The Connection Between Self-Care and Mental Health (Vermani, 2023). She goes on to say that “self-care is linked to improved mental health, with benefits like enhanced self-esteem and self-worth, increased optimism, a positive outlook on life, and lower levels of anxiety and depression.”

The takeaway here is that we need self-care, but there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. If we hold the view that self-care is rooted in overall wellness, it makes sense to consider the six dimensions of wellness outlined by the National Wellness Institute: physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, vocational, and social.

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Trying to address all six areas of wellness in your self-care routine might feel overwhelming, but thankfully you don’t have to figure it out alone. In The Self-Care Prescription, Dr. Gobin outlines each type of self-care, and provides prompts to help you determine your self-care needs, and tips for creating your personalized self-care plan. Consider Dr. Gobin’s six self-care areas to see which ones need a little tender loving care.

Physical Self-Care – includes exercise, proper nourishment for your body and healthy habits. Many of us are familiar with this type of self-care but probably don’t call it that. It’s a reminder that physical movement, sleep and rest, and proper nutrition are all part of our self-care prescription.

Spiritual Self-Care – enjoying meaning and purpose in life. Simple things like “taking five minutes to say a prayer, mediate, read a spiritually uplifting blog, or go outside and be in nature can give you the spiritual boost you need to remain calm and connected to your inner voice”, says Dr. Gobin.

Emotional Self-Care – involves embracing all your emotions and having the skills and tools to manage intense or difficult ones. With emotional self-care you actively take responsibility for your emotions and seek to manage them effectively.

Intellectual Self-Care – involves keeping your mind sharp. Just as our bodies need exercise, so do our minds. Learning about new topics that interest you and adopting a growth mindset are all part of intellectual self-care.

Vocational Self-Care – involves finding meaning in your work. This is not about having the perfect job or working under the perfect circumstances. Dr. Gobin explains that you get your vocational needs met when you are “using your strengths and talents to do work that you feel has meaning and purpose, whether or not you are paid for it.”

Social Self-Care – this involves healthy relationships and connections. Taking care of existing relationships and friendships, nurturing new ones, and setting boundaries are all part of social self-care.

Making Time for Self-Care

While it can be challenging to find time for self-care in a busy schedule, it’s crucial for overall health and happiness. Here are some tips to help you make time for self-care.

  1. Assess your needs: Start with the six areas of wellness above and identify which ones require your attention right now and prioritize them. This will help you create a self-care plan that is tailored to your specific needs. Keep in mind that your self-care plan can change with different seasons of your life, so don’t feel stuck trying to create the perfect routine.
  2. Schedule it: Productivity expert Michael Hyatt is famous for saying, “what gets scheduled gets done.” Often, the opposite is also true, so if you’re going to make any headway in your self-care habits, you’ll need to plan for it. And yes, that might mean actually putting it on your calendar, just as you would do for any other important appointment. This will help ensure that you make time for yourself.
  3. Start small: Incorporate small self-care activities into your daily routine, such as taking a walk, meditating, or reading a book. This will help you build momentum and make it easier to incorporate more significant self-care activities into your life.
  4. Be mindful: Pay attention to how you feel and what you need in the moment. This will help you identify when you need to take a break and engage in self-care activities.
  5. Set boundaries: Learn to say no to requests that do not align with your priorities or values. This will help you create more time for yourself and reduce stress.
  6. Get support: Reach out to friends, family, a coach or mental health professional for support when needed. Having a support system can help you stay motivated and accountable.

Your Self-Care Journey

In summary, self-care is not a luxury but an essential practice for overall well-being. It goes beyond spa days and vacations, encompassing personalized routines that nurture your physical, mental, and emotional health. This is your self-care journey, so I encourage you to reflect on what self-care means to you and take steps to prioritize your well-being. Start small if you must, but just start.

So, sure go ahead and schedule that mani-pedi and full-body massage, but don’t forget that there is so much more to self-care than spa retreats and walks on the beach. Remember, self-care is not selfish; in fact, it is just what the doctor ordered.


Gobin, R. L. (2019). The Self-Care Prescription: Powerful Solutions to Manage Stress, Reduce Anxiety and Increase Well-Being. Emeryville, California: Althea Press.

Self-Care Isn’t Selfish: 17 Tips for Making Yourself a Priority. (2023, May 1). Retrieved from Cleveland Clinic: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/why-self-care-isnt-selfish-advice-for-women/

Vermani, M. (2023, February 22). The Connection Between Self-Care and Mental Health. Retrieved from Psychology Today: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/a-deeper-wellness/202302/understanding-the-mental-health-and-self-care-connection

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