What is self-care anyways?!

Exactly one year ago I made a big decision to step away from the fitness franchise I was apart of for a decade.   My main reason being, I realized women needed more than just fitness to thrive, and I wanted to be able to dive deeper into habit change and mindset work with my clients.  I am passionate about helping women recognize their own needs and find ways to prioritize their own self-care.


Reflecting back on this past year, it really made me question:

What is self-care anyways?

I’ve been preaching that self-care is NOT just bubble baths, pedicures and girls’ weekends away.  Self-care is prioritizing our own needs.  It is recognizing what we need and then finding way to carry through on our intentions.  It’s about finding ways to add coins to our confidence bank.    When we are our best selves, we can show up and help change the world for the better.

I believe self-care is: 

  • Healthy habits
  • Routines
  • Taking time to plan
  • Hard conversations
  • Recognizing prioritize and non-negotiables
  • Slowing down
  • Rest

And…. I think most would agree, that self-care is UNIQUE to each individual.  What may be on my list, may not be on yours.  There is no one size fits all approach.  Your girlfriend loves weekly coffee dates with friends, you’d prefer a solo walk in the woods.  Your sister must get 8 hours of sleep per night, you’ve recognized your sweet spot is 6.5 hours. 

Overall, I’d argue that:

As Gary Keller says, “Make your life non-negotiable.”  We must be our #1.  


As we enter the season of giving – giving our time and energy to others this holiday season – I want to remind you we cannot pour from an empty cup. We must fill our cups first.


The key is making sure we are incorporating self-care and self-love EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  If we don’t, we will feel depleted, and may feel a sense that we MUST then escape to these “bigger” self-care opportunities in order to survive…  

I challenge you this month to do two things:

  • Commit to one daily self-care items
  • Calendar one bigger self-care item

Read on to learn more about the difference between micro and macro self-care, some “alternative” self-care ideas, and three simple steps to help you identify your two non-negotiable self-care items for the month ahead.

The BIG & the LITTLE of self-care

From my coaching, and my own personal experience, self-care practices must include both big experiences AND daily habits. 

For years I lived in a state of constant overwhelm where I felt I needed to get away to “reset” – it was only way to pause the stressors of everyday life.  The problem was, I’d sneak away for a massage or a weekend or whatever it was, some big, planned activity, and then I’d return just as overwhelmed by the reality of day-to-day life… 

Some examples of Macro/Big Self-Care experiences may include:

  • A longer hike, solo or with friends
  • A trip to the spa
  • A date with yourself at your favorite restaurant or coffee shop
  • Girls’ night out
  • A weekend away
  • A manicure, pedicure, or eyelash appointment
  • Scheduling 2+ hours to do whatever you want to do
  • Sign up for a race, concert or other special

I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that self-care must be these big things.  Planning out and feeling like we deserve these BIG special occasions, justifies the constant stress and busy-ness that we allow ourselves to live within.  Yes, these fun big girls weekends away or pampering events do play a role in our own self-care, but they can only be one piece of it. 

If we do not’ have our everyday micro self-care habits in place, returning from these experiences can be really, really challenging.   

And don’t we want to feel more joy, less stressed and feel more happy on a daily basis, rather than just once a week, month or quarter?

Which brings me to possibly the more important piece – our daily self-care practices and habits, micro habits, if you will.

Through my own journey, and the coaching I’ve done with dozens of women, I’ve learned that it takes work to identify, incorporate, practice and tweak these daily habits, but these are in my opinion the true magic behind self-care – the smaller things that we can do for ourselves every single day to increase our energy and make us FEEL GOOD. Because ultimately, isn’t that what we all want? Is to feel like our best selves?  

Here are some examples of daily/micro self-care habits, the small deposits into our confidence bank:

  • Drinking 70 ounces of water per day
  • Daily purposeful movement
  • Journaling for 5 minutes per day
  • Planning in meditation or breath-work
  • Having a cup of coffee or tea at the same time every day
  • Taking 10 minutes to read daily
  • Taking time to plan out your next day

These lists are just ideas.  I’m presenting one other “non-traditional” idea of what self-care looks like below, before guiding you through three simple steps to identify your two non-negotiable self-care items for the remainder of 2022.

Another perspective on self-care

As I was writing this, an email surfaced in my inbox that really is too good not to share.  My Fitness Pal, an app many women use to track nutrition and healthy habits, shared an article that reminded me that:

Psychologist and author Peggy DeLong says “Self-care is the practice of engaging in health-promoting thoughts and behaviors, as well as cultivating feelings that are beneficial for well-being,” While most of us focus on the behavior part of self-care. “What’s often overlooked is purposefully fostering emotions that are known to be related to physical and psychological well-being.”

The question then becomes, how do YOU really want to feel?   The ten ideas that are elaborated on in this article to help us feel well are:

  • Practice intentional imperfection
  • Get creative with connection
  • Take up sewing, knitting or crocheting
  • Spend time thinking about your values
  • Let your anger out
  • Reassess your boundaries
  • Create a comfort list
  • Clean out clutter that is weighing you down
  • Become a plant parent
  • Brainstorm your calming phrase

I think what is interesting about all of the suggestions, is none of these examples are what the wellness industry has made us to believe self-care is – massages, facials, coffee with girlfriends, lavish bubble baths with champagne…  I do love how each of these makes me stop and pause – is this something that would serve me?   (You can read the full article here.)

As a reminder, self-care is what YOU need to feel energized, confident and like yourself.  Often times amidst motherhood and juggling of all the roles, we sometimes feel like we lose ourselves, and forget what truly fuels us. 

Deciding on your two non-negotiable self-care items for the month ahead..

Here are three tips to help you identify what these big & little self-care items may be during your current season of life: 

  • BRAIN DUMP: Set the timer for 5 minutes and brain dump all items, exercises, activities, places, people that give you energy and make you FEEL GOOD.  Yes, think about pampering and special occasions AND think about the daily actions that help energize you and make you feel like your best self.   Don’t forget to think about how our five factors of optimal health play into this.  I’d encourage you to also think back the “energy-fillers” from your young adulthood or even childhood to spur additional ideas.    
    1. Which items are daily items? Things that can and should be done daily to help you feel your best? Often times these may include healthy habits
    2. Which items are BIG items? Things that may require more time, energy or planning. A special something.
    3. Circle any daily items that are speaking to you. Narrow this list down to ONE thing you will commit to daily for November.
    4. Place a star next to any bigger items you really want to do. Assess the season of life you are in and what is realistic. 
    1. ONE item you will commit to DAILY for the rest of the month.=
    2. ONE “big” item that you commit to getting on your calendar before the end of the year. 

Make a plan.  Ask others for support.  You can do this!

One last note: I know many women get caught up in what we call the all or nothing mindset.  For your daily item, I challenge you to do this as many days as possible.  Do yourself a favor, if you miss one day, or even two in a row, don’t give up! Recognize how that item makes you feel, and know you can start it back up again. 

Think about progress over perfection. If your daily item was to drink 70oz of water each day, and you end up only doing it 10 days during the month, count this as a win! This very well may be 10 more days than if you had not made this an intention. <3

I’d love to hear what you select – please leave a comment below.  

If you are looking for further support in your own self-care and wellness journey, here is a link to my interest form.   

1 thought on “What is self-care anyways?!

  1. Pingback: 5 Tips to Help You Stay Calm this Holiday Season – Megan Caldwell Fitness & Coaching

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