Self-Care for Helpers

Updated: Apr 5

Self-care might be something you associate with going on a walk or playing guitar, but what more do you know about this topic? Read on to learn more about what self-care is, why it is important, and how to use mindful goals when assessing, timing, and arranging a self-care strategy that works best for you.

What is Self-Care?

Self-care is what people do for themselves to establish and maintain health, and to prevent and deal with illness. It is a broad concept encompassing hygiene, nutrition, lifestyle, environmental factors, biopsychosocial factors (income level, cultural beliefs, etc.) and self-medication.

Self-care is a concept that is multi-layered. Self-care can be thought of in terms of self-care activities, such as walking or drinking water, or be sorted out between 6 different domains. Self-care can also be understood through frequency and impact. We can even look at self-care tasks on a continuum of helpful and unhelpful.

Why is it important?

Self-care is important because self-care is a key activity in disease and illness prevention and to establish and maintain health. Health is on a continuum. Health is not something you have or do not have, it is something that you have that fluctuates through life. Self-care tasks are one thing that can help us maintain our balance of health throughout the ebbs and flows of life.

Mindful Self-Care Planning

Mindful Self-Care Planning is a type of intentional planning. This type of planning utilizes mindfulness practices and something called a mindful goal. A mindful goal can be defined as a goal rooted in present awareness. Present awareness allows us to take stock of what we know about ourselves, but not focus on the worries that may come up when we are creating a plan for our wellness.

To start, bring yourself to the present moment with the 5-4-3-2-1 activity , anchoring with your breath, or any technique of your choice to help you focus on a mindful state. Once you feel you are ready, move on to thinking about what a healthy you looks like.

Using Reflection

Start off by reflecting on when you felt healthy within the last 6 months. Think more about that time. If you are in a place in life where you are experiencing change in health status, ability, finance change, housing change, hearing change, vision change, or other significant life change, do not compare where you are now to times when you were not in this same place in life. This is an unequal comparison and will not be the best reflection point for this current time of your life. Instead, focus on reflecting on another time you were in this place or a place that feels similar. Think about what wellness for you looked like there.

Using self-assessment

If you are unable to think back to a time similar to now where you felt well, or you want to focus on where you are in this moment, ask yourself questions to know more about what you might need in this moment.

Where do I feel deprived?

What do I need more of right now?

What do I need less of right now?

What do I want right now?

Who or what is causing me to feel resentful, and why?

What am I hoping will happen in my lifetime?

Be specific in your responses. Instead of saying that you've been feeling sick lately, say that your stomach hurts because you have been drinking more soda than usual. Or, instead of saying that you would like more time for self-care, say that you feel guilty for taking time away for yourself to engage in self-care tasks that you find enjoyable.

Setting your goals

To set your goals, you can utilize journaling, video or written, or any other method of capturing your plan. Take time to solidify your plan in a way that will allow you to review in the future.

To start, take stock of what you are already doing. Think about the 6 domains of wellness: emotional, occupational, physical, spiritual, intellectual, and social. Next, think about what self-care activities might be missing from your current plan.

Take a moment to consider the best balance for you. You might identify that you want to get up earlier, drink more water, and take your dog for more walks, but if you throw three new routines into your day, what might this look like? This might narrow your list of self-care tasks down to 1 or 2 things. Progress over perfection! You might want to add a bunch of new processes to your life, but if you start small you increase your likelihood of success in the long run.

Your last step is to set your plan by making your commitment or your goal. Taking into account what you have learned about yourself from this exercise, what do you want to do? Focus on naming an actual action you want to take and then decide when you will do it. For example, “I want to brush my teeth more often” is different from, “I will brush my teeth everyday in the morning after I wash my face”.

Future Planning

The plan will be for you to use your mindful self-care plan and observe how it is working in your life. What this will look like is up to you. To keep your planning going, you are invited to choose a time weekly where you will check-in with yourself, including your self-care routine. Start with something to center you. Follow with reflection on the past and on your current needs. If we notice signs that our self-care plan is not working for us, such as lapses in us following our plan or our plan leading to distress, take time to understand how your plan is not working and make changes that will better align your plan with your current needs.

Self-Care Workshop

Mezzo Solutions offers a Self-Care Workshop designed to teach participants about the importance of self-care and how we can all develop self-care plans for our daily lives. Learn more about our available workshops by following the link below.

Using the information gained here will enable you to create the mindful self-care plan that works best for you. Mezzo Solutions offers education and action to help organizations and communities improve their health and wellbeing. Learn more about the Mezzo Solutions team at