Why is self-care important for your health?

Learn about self-care, including why it’s important for your health and how you can practice it.

Why is self-care important for your health?
minute read

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Caley Scott, ND

It’s more important than ever to prioritize self-care activities and take time for yourself. Self-care means putting your health and well-being first—not so you can escape responsibility, but rather to be the best person possible for you and your loved ones. 

The idea is simple in theory but difficult in practice, especially with distractions like social media and the never-ending to-do list of the modern world. However, if you can create a solid self-care plan and take time for basic habits each day, you can achieve balance and combat burnout in a sustainable way. Well-being is an ongoing journey, and it’s essential to stay on track with your goals, whatever they may be.

In this article, we’re getting to the root of why self-care is so vital in today’s day and age. We’ll look at some of the most common obstacles to self-care, offer some tips to create a daily self-care routine, and recommend some products that can help you get there. 

What is self-care?

The best way to learn about self-care is to understand the “pillars” or “domains” that make up a self-care framework

It all begins with knowledge and health literacy, i.e., your approach to grasping the basics and implementing these practices. This requires a sense of curiosity, flexibility, and some patience to delay gratification for better results in the future. Next comes self-awareness and assessment; where do you currently stand in your self-care journey, and which steps should be prioritized?

From there, we get into habits, routines, and practices. Physical activity and healthy eating are the keys here, setting the foundation for a strong body and fueling your energy in all areas of life. Risk avoidance also goes hand-in-hand with these habits  limiting negative influences and recognizing unhealthy patterns. 

This framework is simple but effective, backed by research, and applicable to all walks of life. No matter where you’re at in the self-care journey, there’s always room to audit your situation and make minor improvements that add up over time. 

What is the connection between self-care and overall health?

The importance of self-care goes beyond looking good and feeling good. While these surface-level goals are a good initial motivator, the ultimate result is improved overall health, performance, and quality of life.

With the pillars of self-care in place, you can achieve emotional balance, reduce health problems, and reach a state of wellness that pays dividends in many ways. Making time for exercise and healthy eating, for example, can reduce your risk of heart disease, while mindfulness practices can benefit your emotional well-being and self-esteem.

As you embark on your self-care mission, continually remind yourself of why you started, what your goals are, and what you can do to improve in each domain. Before long, you’ll understand the importance of self-care from a first-hand point of view, creating momentum and driving your efforts forward. 

How can you prioritize self-care in daily life?

Before you start establishing new habits and reorienting your life towards self-care, there’s an important first step you can’t ignore: learning how to prioritize. This doesn’t mean neglecting key areas of your life, but rather making room for the things that matter most for your health and emotional state. 

Prioritization is the practical side of self-care that is often overlooked, especially for busy professionals who are pulled in many different directions each day. With that said, there are several ways you can make self-care a priority while balanced and organized. Here are some tips to get started:

Practice time management

Time management is critical in beginning a self-care program, whether you’re working a 9-to-5, caring for a family, or just navigating logistical challenges. Without strong time management skills, it can feel like you never have enough hours in the day to get everything done. 

In reality, you’ll find that most self-care practices don’t actually take that much time out of your daily routine. If it means sacrificing a few hours of TV time or social media scrolling, the investment in self-care is always worth the trade-off. Identify your main distractions, track your screen time, and look for ways to make your efforts more efficient from the home to the workplace. 

Unlocking just a few extra hours per week can make all the difference when building an effective, sustainable self-care strategy.

Set boundaries

Many of us have trouble setting boundaries in our daily lives, fearing that it might cause issues with relationships or professional advancement. But without these boundaries in place, it’s only a matter of time before our schedules are oversaturated, and we end up with little time for ourselves. 

A good way to start setting boundaries is with yourself. For example, you can set clear markers in your day for work, family time, relaxation, and other practices. If you can’t create boundaries within your own routine, it’s infinitely harder to set them with other people. 

Next, you can create boundaries in your professional life, such as limiting work during non-work hours or declining extra work offered at your job. As long as you utilize this personal time effectively, you’ll discover that you perform better when you’re on the clock. 

Adjust your routine to make space

Take a moment to reflect on your daily routine and be honest with how you’re spending these waking hours. Are you absorbed in the 24-hour news cycle or find yourself absent-mindedly scrolling social media? Do you spend hours stressing or worrying when you can be taking actionable steps toward positive change? 

Being honest with yourself is step one in the self-care process. Neglect this, and frustration will only persist as you spin your wheels. Don’t hesitate to analyze your routine and make adjustments that will benefit you in the long run. 

What are some self-care practices for mental and physical health?

Ready to take your self-care plan from theory to practice? Let’s outline some practical self-care habits that you can adopt right now.


Keeping a journal is key to understanding yourself, working through difficult emotions and feelings, and staying accountable—in every aspect of life. 

Set aside your expectations and rules when starting your journal, and just grab a pen and paper or open a blank document on your phone or laptop. Start writing whatever comes to mind, whether it’s self-reflection, something good that happened that day, or stream of consciousness. 

Just a few minutes each day is all you need to journal effectively, making this a small but critical starting point for self-care.

Getting enough exercise

You don’t need to train like an Olympic athlete to reap the benefits of physical exercise. Start with a simple goal like walking or light cardio at the gym, then work your way up to strength training or interval workouts.

The endorphin rush of a great training session will be enough to keep you coming back for more. The physical transformations you’ll experience are simply a bonus. It won’t be long before you understand first-hand why exercise is so central to a self-care routine.

Prioritizing your sleep

Without a solid sleep routine, climbing the self-care mountain can seem like an insurmountable challenge. Getting enough sleep each night will fuel your efforts in every aspect of life, from the workplace to the gym and quality family time.

Sleep hygiene is no doubt lacking in the modern world, but there are ways to make this an intentional and effective practice. Make your bedroom a sanctuary for relaxation, craft an evening routine without screens, and utilize a natural sleep supplement that helps you wind down without feeling groggy the next day.*

Spending quality time with loved ones

As social beings, we need to spend time with loved ones in order to feel connected and stay on track with self-care habits. Hanging out with friends and family will reinforce the importance of self-care and offer a deeper sense of meaning that can’t be achieved alone.

Catching up on the phone or texting is better than nothing, but you should aim to spend quality time in physical proximity with your loved ones. This will help you recharge, create deeper connections, and make your self-care journey that much easier.

Maintaining a balanced diet

In a world filled with diet advice and trendy ways of eating, it’s easy to get swept up in the hype. A balanced diet shouldn’t be complicated—it’s all about finding the foods that make your body feel great without spikes and crashes.

Aim to hit a daily protein goal to fuel your exercise routine, and be sure to intake fresh fruits and veggies along with slow-digesting carbohydrates. Keep sweets and alcohol to a minimum, and find healthy alternatives that you can feel good about eating while still enjoying yourself. 

Everyone has a unique body type, and there’s no one-size-fits-all diet, so embrace the process of experimentation and find what works for you. 

Managing stress

Stress management is a challenge for everyone, especially when responsibilities add up with age. While distractions and bad habits can ease stress in the short term, they end up causing more problems than they solve in terms of physical and mental health.

Start testing out different stress management techniques that might feel outside your comfort zone, such as meditation, aromatherapy, bubble baths with CBD, or yoga.*

When you discover that healthy stress management is possible with the right practices, that’s when your self-care results will skyrocket.

Embracing alone time

Alone time is part of life, but many of us run from this reality with distractions and shallow social engagements. Be sure to set aside time for yourself at least a few times per week and reflect on your day while setting reasonable goals for the future.

Spending time alone will increase mental resilience, make space for emotional relief, and transform you into a more balanced, kind person when around others. 

Engaging in hobbies

Many people, especially high achievers, can find themselves with an “all work, no play” approach to life. Engaging in hobbies is essential to manage stress and maintain a sense of childlike wonder in the world.

Perhaps you enjoy making music, working through a cookbook, or getting out into nature to take photos. Make time for your hobbies, and you’ll return to the daily grind with a renewed sense of energy and excitement that goes a long way.

Healthy hygiene habits

Hygiene is more than staving off bad breath and trying out new hairstyles. When you invest in your hygiene each day, you’ll reinforce a sense of self-esteem that comes from within. 

Create hygiene habits for skin care, oral health, safe sun exposure, and maintaining your personal space at home. 

How can you develop a self-care routine?

We’ve outlined many great self-care ideas above, but how do you turn these into a sustainable self-care routine moving forward? 

Everyone will have a different approach to self-care, so don’t try to adhere to someone else’s routine. Create your own from scratch based on what you need to prioritize. Refer to the pillars of self-care so you know what matters most, then slowly build on that foundation to fit your lifestyle and goals. 

For some, this will mean putting diet and exercise first, while others might need to focus on setting boundaries and maintaining hygiene. Keep your self-care program on file for quick reference, and stay accountable each day! 

Consistency is key to positive habits, so overcome that initial resistance and get your momentum started today.

Bottom line

The concept of self-care is relatively new, but many of these ideas and techniques have been around for centuries. From practices like deep breathing to time management and holistic health, we can combine the best of ancient wisdom with modern science. 

Only when you recognize the power of self-care can you internalize the reasons behind key practices and be compelled to make meaningful changes. 


Self-care: A concept analysis | NIH

Why Self-Care is an Essential for Your Mental Health | West Tennessee Health Care

The Seven Pillars of Self-Care | ISF

Exercise and stress: Get moving to manage stress | Mayo Clinic

Efficacy of journaling in the management of mental illness: a systematic review and meta-analysis | PMC