Living with Chronic Pain

What Is Self-Care?


Self-care is the intentional promotion of overall well-being and mental, physical and emotional health for oneself. It involves taking steps to promote health, prevent illness, and cope with stressors that occur. It also includes refraining from activities that increase stress or harm overall health. Individuals should take time each day to self-regulate and practice much needed self-care.

A common misconception is that self-care is selfish or self-indulgence. However, the opposite is true. Individuals cannot help or care for others if they do not first take care of themselves.

Chronic pain is demanding, both emotionally and physically. However, participating in self-care, along with a detailed treatment plan, can help reduce pain levels.

Types of self-care

Types of self-care, include the following:

  • Emotional self-care can include practicing positive self-talk, playing uplifting music, or scheduling time to catch up with a friend.
  • Physical self-care examples include prioritizing sleep, participating in physical activity, or choosing nourishing foods.
  • Psychological self-care involves learning, growing and reflecting to improve mental health.
  • Spiritual self-care may include starting a gratitude journal, attending a religious service, or meditating.

Self-care for health

Self-care includes taking care of individual health needs. Examples include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Scheduling a cancer screening
  • Getting a recommended vaccine
  • Making an appointment with a health care professional

Why is self-care important?

Self-care helps individuals maintain positive well-being and take time for themselves. It can also have helpful impacts on health, including reducing stress levels and strengthening the immune system. For individuals with chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia or back pain, self-care practices may ease discomfort and help individuals cope with flare-up pain.

Self-care may be different per individual; it may also vary from day to day as physical and emotional needs change. It does not have to be time-consuming or expensive; however, time should be set aside each day specifically for self-care.

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