Wednesday 14 September 2022

Because You're Worth it! A Curated List of Self-care Posts

self care is hard. it is not just face masks and bath bombs. it is crying, getting out of bed, sticking to your goals, allowing yourself to open up to others, not staying at home, getting rid of negative ppl. don’t believe social media’s false definition of self care. it is more. (@soignevenus / twitter)

In the third in our series of themed posts, I’ve selected articles from our backlist which cover various aspects of self-care. The World Health Organization defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.” I prefer the longer but far more accessible description by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Self-care means taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health. When it comes to your mental health, self-care can help you manage stress, lower your risk of illness, and increase your energy. Even small acts of self-care in your daily life can have a big impact. Self-care looks different for everyone, and it is important to find what you need and enjoy. It may take trial and error to discover what works best for you. In addition, although self-care is not a cure for mental illnesses, understanding what causes or triggers your mild symptoms and what coping techniques work for you can help manage your mental health.

Some of the posts I’ve included are general in nature, others are written very much from the author’s perspective and experience. I’ve separated them into six categories. Scroll through them all or click a link to jump to the relevant section.

I’ve provided a short excerpt from each post, with a link to the original article. I will update the list as relevant posts are published in the future.

Practical Strategies

Having self-care strategies in place for when you need them can be reassuring in its own right. You know you have a toolkit of techniques to turn to that have worked for you in the past. It’s worthwhile thinking about these when you’re feeling good physically and mentally, so you can pick them up when needed. A Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) offers a useful framework. It encourages us to think about the activities and behaviours that help us stay well, as well as signs that we’re starting to struggle, and techniques to help restore us to balance.

My Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP)

A couple of months ago I attended a Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) Awareness workshop at Newcastle Recovery College Collective (ReCoCo). The two day workshop covered the purpose and structure of Wellness Recovery Action Plans, and invited us to consider drawing up our own.

In this article I’m sharing the WRAP I put together after attending the workshop, with a few changes I’ve made since then and minor edits for privacy. I make no claim that this is “how to do a WRAP” but it works for me. I will update it as my needs and situation change, and as my understanding of WRAP grows.

Read the full post here.

How to Use a Spreadsheet for Wellness and Self-care

I first tried this [a wellness tracker spreadsheet] back in 2013 when Fran took an extended trip around Europe. On that occasion I used a Google Docs spreadsheet and recorded brief notes about what was happening each day, how much exercise (walking) I did, any creative work such as working on our book, any reading I did (what book and for how long), and whether or not I meditated. This time I’m using an Excel spreadsheet to capture the following information on a daily basis: notes, mood, weight, eating, reading, exercise, creativity, water, and vitamins. Let’s look at these in more detail.

Read the full post here.

Vital But Often Overlooked Self-Care Practices to Focus on Today

By Brad Krause

What we do on a daily basis to take care of ourselves is the number one determining factor in our overall mental health. Many of us live under unhealthy amounts of stress, financial burdens, and physical and emotional strain from juggling home and professional duties. When we think about self-care, it’s easy to overlook the basics. Here is what you should focus on today.

Read the full post here.

Practical Self-Care Tips to Help You Crush Life as an Introvert

By Melissa Howard

You’re easily drained from social gatherings. Working with people leaves you depleted, and by the afternoon you can’t wait to get home and curl up with a book. You love your kids to death but crave those few minutes that allow you to decompress once they go to bed. As an introvert, there’s nothing wrong with that, and in fact, you should plan on all that and more. Keep reading for tips to help you to take better care of your mind, body, and soul so that you can live the life you’re meant to live.

Read the full post here.

Making a Difference to Your Day

We all have bad days and rough times. Sometimes it’s enough to take a deep breath and wait things out until the situation changes or our mood improves on its own. At other times, we may want to be a little more proactive and take steps to shift things in a more positive or healthy direction. The following articles describe a number of techniques that can help.

Ten Ways to Turn a Bad Day Around

There’s nothing inherently wrong with having a bad day. It’s natural, I would even say healthy, for our mood to fluctuate in response to whatever is going on around us. On the other hand, no one wants to stay stuck in a rut.

Here are ten techniques I use when I’m having a rough day. Several of them feature in my Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP).

It’s worth saying these are not fixes or solutions for anxiety, depression, or other mental health conditions although they might form part of a person’s wellness toolbox. They help me weather the ups and downs of life and I offer them on that basis.

Read the full post here.

Nine Ways I Distract Myself When I’m Feeling Down

No matter who we are, there are times when we’re not feeling good. It helps to have strategies in place for handling times like this. A personalised Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) can be helpful. In other posts, I’ve described how to turn a bad day around, how to be kind to myself, and things I’m grateful for. In this article I’m going to describe the strategies I use to distract myself while I wait for my thoughts or mood to shift. Just about anything can serve as a distraction technique if you’re able to immerse yourself sufficiently in it.

Read the full post here.

Up-Blips of Emotion: Exploring the Strange Things That Make My Weird Little Heart Happy

Those [things] all bring me pleasure, but I wouldn’t say they make me happy. They’re things I can consciously choose or decide to do. My happy moments are far fewer in number and much less frequent. They are also unplanned. Unpredictability is an important aspect of true happiness for me. To misappropriate the words of Tolkien’s Oxford contemporary C. S. Lewis, happiness for me means being surprised by joy. Unexpected feedback on my blog posts or books, especially where it’s clear they’ve had a significant impact on the reader; news of a friend’s achievements or success; unanticipated hugs; crowd karaoke — these are a few of my favourite happy things. (That last one is a few year’s old now, but it’s still the first thing I think of when I think of happy!)

Read the full post here.

Kindness and Gratitude

Kindness and gratitude can feel like things we owe other people. Being kind to others and grateful for what they do for us is important, of course, but we can be so focused outside ourselves that we forget we deserve kindness and gratitude too. Gratitude offers the chance to think about the things that bring value into our lives; they’re not always the most obvious. It’s possible to find reason to be grateful in almost any situation — even other people’s ingratitude!

Sixteen Ways to Be Kind

We are sometimes called upon to provide long-term help or caregiving for friends, family members, or loved ones, but small acts of kindness are no less important and can make a huge difference to a person’s life, including ours. Here are sixteen ideas to bring more kindness into our lives and the lives of those around us.

Read the full post here.

10 Ways I Was Kind to Myself This Week

The theme for this year’s [2020] Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) is kindness. In a recent article I described sixteen ways we can bring more kindness into our lives, including being kind to ourselves. I’d like to share a few ways I’ve been kind to myself in the past week.

Read the full post here.

Seven Things I’m Grateful for This Week (And One Extra Special One at the End)

I was inspired to write this post when the topic of gratitude came up twice for me in as many days. The first was when I was discussing journaling and gifting with my friend Brynn. It reminded me of the gratitude journal I was gifted a couple of years ago. I used to carry it with me everywhere and wrote in it regularly, but it’s sat on my desk for a while now, unused and rarely opened.

The second was when I opened Spotify to play some music on one of my evening walks and noticed a podcast on radical gratitude by my friend and fellow blogger Liz Kay.

To be honest, I wasn’t feeling much in the mood for gratitude at the time. I’ve been flat, low, and empty for a while now and had considered exploring that in a blog post. It seemed churlish, however, to reject the invitation to think more positively. So here, in no particular order, are seven things I’m grateful for this week.

Read the full post here.

11 Things I’m Grateful For This Week

I’ve been experiencing a good deal of stress lately one way or another, and I thought it might help to focus on what’s been going well, and things I am grateful for. This blog post is the result and, yes, it did help.

Read the full post here.

Thank You Anyway: The Gift of Ingratitude

We can be grateful for what we perceive as other people’s ingratitude, because it grants us the opportunity to look at ourselves and explore what’s going on for us when we reach out to help someone.

We can also model good gratitude in how we treat others. When done properly, with grace, gratitude is more than reimbursement for a gift or service. It acknowledges our connection with the other person, and the care their help and support represents for us. Remember that it doesn’t have to be expressed in words alone. Trust, openness, and honesty are expressions of gratitude too.

Read the full post here.

Music and Lyrics

Our musical tastes are intensely personal but for many of us music is a vital part of our self-care, whether we think of it like that or not. We often turn to music that matches our mood, be that happy or sad, outward-looking or introspective. Music can also help us shift how we’re feeling, remind us of times when things were other than they are right now, and put us in touch with what’s most important to us.

Ten Anthems for Comfort, Celebration, Inspiration, and Healing

A few years ago Fran and I took BrenĂ© Brown’s Daring Greatly online workshop. One of the exercises invited us to select one or more arena anthems: songs “that will inspire you to stay brave when the gremlins start getting to you or when you start to doubt your ability to stay vulnerable through the tough parts.” Whether you know me personally or not I hope they move and inspire you too.

Read the full post here.

Twelve Songs That Remind Me What Caring Is All About

I was listening to some of my favourite tracks on YouTube and Spotify a few weeks ago and realised many capture aspects of what caring means to me. Here’s a selection in no particular order, each with a note explaining why it resonates for me. Maybe they’ll resonate for you, too.

Read the full post here.

Out and About

Exercise and the natural world are often cited as important elements of self-care. The opportunities to be active and experience nature vary greatly. Not everyone has ready access to wilderness trails, woodland walks, or miles of pristine shoreline to explore; or the fitness, energy, or inclination to do so. Being “out and about” means different things to different people, but with a little thought and creativity there are opportunities to engage with the outside world if we wish to, virtually if not in person.

Beauty Everywhere: Engaging with the Natural World

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” (Laura Ingalls Wilder)

Covid-19 has curtailed many of the activities that brought meaning to our lives. However, for many of us it has provided an opportunity to engage more with our immediate surroundings. Wherever we live and no matter our personal circumstances we can all invite the natural world into our lives.

Read the full post here.

One Step at a Time: Walking for Wellness, Walking for Me

When I’m happy, I walk.
When I’m sad, or lonely or lost.
When I’m hurting, or numb.
When there’s too much to think about
Or nothing on my mind.
I walk.

Walking has played an important role in my life for as long as I can remember. So much so that it was one of the first things I included in the wellness tools section of my Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP). It’s also made its way into my writing more often than I’d realised until I began writing this article. (The idea for this piece came to me whilst, wait for it, walking into work one morning a few weeks ago.)

Read the full post here.

You Don’t Have to Do It on Your Own

Self-care is about respecting and meeting our needs as individuals, but that doesn’t necessarily mean spending lots of time on our own. Some of the most valuable, validating, and enriching times are those we spend with the people who mean most to us. If it honours our needs, interests, and wellbeing, it’s self-care!

10 Ways to Spend Quality Time with Your Friend That Don’t Involve Talking about Mental Health

Sharing quality time reinforces your friendship, builds memories, and reminds you both that you value each other’s company in fine weather as well as in stormy times. Plus, of course, it’s just really good fun! Here in no particular order are ten ways I enjoy spending time with Fran and other friends.

Read the full post here.

It’s Not Just for Kids: Reading Together for Fun and Friendship

The most important sounds we can ever share with another person are our own voices.

The above quotation is from the chapter in our book where we discuss how we make our 3,000 mile, transatlantic, friendship work. We believe there are many kinds of distance that can separate people, and not all are measured in miles or time zones. What keeps our relationship fresh and alive is our willingness to keep the channels of communication open between us, no matter what.

Reading together is one way we honour that commitment, and amongst the most rewarding. Young children — and parents of young children — know this instinctively. And yet as adults we rarely read to one another. When was the last time you read to your adult child, to your partner, or to a friend?

Read the full post here.

How Sharing Quiet Moments Can Deepen Your Friendship

There’s nothing quite like having someone you feel safe enough with to talk openly and honestly about whatever’s going on for you. It can help enormously, whether you’re simply sharing what’s happening, exploring options, or asking for — or offering — assistance and advice. But support and caring aren’t always about doing things or talking things over. Sometimes there is no need for words. Sometimes there is a need for silence.

Read the full post here.

Over to You

If you have any thoughts about the articles we’ve included, or suggestions for self-care topics we might explore in the future, please let us know, either in the comments below or via our contact page.


Photo by Avelino Calvar Martinez at Burst.



  1. If you like unpredictability and unplanned, why is your life so completely the same? You vary little from your routine. Even on weekends. It’s Costas….or seeing one other friend you know. How is your routine different? And if you life surprises andt the unexpected? Because it seems that you enjoy sameness. And that’s ok. It doesn’t seem to be that adventure is high on your list. Tell me if I’m wrong though. Yours, Brynn

    1. You make some really good points there, Brynn. It's true that my life currently is very predicable and highly structured. I could more or less tell you where I will be and what I will be doing, hour by hour, for the coming week. That's not so much because I have ordered that situation. It's the default when unplanned and unpredictable things are not happening to me! I could have chosen to go into town today instead of sitting here in Costa, but that wouldn't make my day any less planned, I would simply have planned something different.

      The piece where I was writing about unpredictability was about what makes me happy, what brings me happiness, as opposed to pleasure. I said that for me, my happiest times have been unplanned and unanticipated. I'm as likely to be "surprised by joy" sitting here in a coffee shop as if I was in town, or at the coast, or wherever. (A really good example of that happened a week or so. I was sitting here at my usual table at Costa when I bumped into a friend here — totally unexpectedly — and also ended up having a great conversation with another couple here who I'd not met before.)

      Thanks for giving me this opportunity to explore this a little more — another perfect example of unexpected and unanticipated joy!

  2. Using a spreadsheet for self care is a great idea.

    1. Hi Lydia. Thanks for your comment. I'm glad you found the idea helpful. Do you think it's something that you might try?