« All News

Thriving From Within – The Journey of Self-Care

Image of Thriving From Within – The Journey of Self-Care

While we are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of self-care, what exactly does that mean?

The World Health Organisation defines self-care as “the ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health worker.”  While self-care is often associated with modern medical practices, some have attributed the origins of self-care to the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, who advocated prioritising introspection and personal growth, emphasizing the care of reason, truth, and the soul. His teachings laid the groundwork for a holistic understanding of self-care, extending beyond physical well-being to include intellectual, emotional, and spiritual dimensions.

On most evenings around 9 p.m., when my schedule allows, you’ll find me logging into Mobile Legends for 2 or 3 rounds of gameplay, where I collaborate with anonymous online players to conquer enemy turrets. This dedicated 45 to 60-minute session serves as my escape from the demands of work, responsibilities, and social interactions, offering me a cherished opportunity for solo enjoyment and relaxation.  There is a difference, however, between self-care and self-indulgence.

Self-care involves doing something to help us enhance our physical and mental health.  In the area of mental health, it means doing something to manage our stress and anxiety so that we can have the capacity to perform the tasks needed for the day.

Self-care can be a set of activities which we perform regularly that promotes health, prevents illnesses, and helps us better manage issues that we face.  This can take the form of:

– Healthy diet and regular meals.

Having a balanced diet and staying hydrated increases our energy and focus for the day. Intentionally build in healthier food like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts etc. into your diet.

– Regular exercise.

One can start with simple exercises and slowly step-up the duration and intensity.

– Sleep.

Experts recommend 7 to 9 hours of sleep daily for adults.  We can make intentional effort to protect our sleeping hours.  Our body goes through physical and psychological repair when we sleep.

*Please seek professional help if you face prolonged insomnia.

– Relaxing activity.

Listening to music, meditation, painting and breathing exercise are among some of the activities that we can do to help us relax.

– Positive mindset.

Counting our daily blessings and being grateful for what we have in the “glass half-filled”.  Journalling things that we are thankful for can help us recall our blessings.

– Social connection.

Significant people in our lives and friends can provide emotional support.  Reach out to them when needed.

– Spirituality.

People with faith and spiritual beliefs can participate in spiritual disciplines, e.g. prayers, religious Services, chanting, meditation, to seek emotional calmness.

Apart from gaming, I have acquired the pleasure of going on walking trails.  A walk in nature often brings calmness to me and places me in awe of creation.  I take these walks as a time to seek peace of mind and to recalibrate myself.

While individuals may have varied definitions of self-care, our aim is to establish a self-care routine that is both enduring and sustainable. It’s important to recognise the delicate balance between genuine self-care and mere self-indulgence.

Self-care does not need to be expensive or for us to pay beyond our means.  If going for regular massages and spa treatment to de-stress will cause you financial concerns in the long run, then you may consider other alternatives to preserve your mental health.

Paula G. Lopez, PhD, an associate professor in the department of psychological and educational consultation at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Connecticut, suggested that we can practice self-care by turning things that we do daily into something health-enhancing and enjoyable, e.g. being mindful of the senses as we shower, making our beds etc.

Self-care has a beneficial impact on us mentally, emotionally and physically.  However, it requires conscious effort and commitment for us to do so.  While February is often celebrated as the season of love by many, let us also prioritise dedicating time to practice self-compassion and self-love through self-care.

Written by: Hoe Su Chien, Counsellor, Fei Yue Community Services


Lawler, M. (yyyy, MMMM DD).  What is Self-Care, and Why Is It So Important for Your Health? https://www.everydayhealth.com/self-care/

National Institute of Mental Health (USA).  Caring for Your Mental Health.