What is self-care?
Self-care means taking care of your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. It is important for everyone, but it can also help you cope with your thoughts and feelings after sexual abuse, rape or any type of sexual violence – whether it happened recently or a long time ago.
Self-care means doing things that take care of your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. This means taking part in activities that make you feel physically, emotionally and mentally better. It’s also about treating yourself with kindness and compassion.
Self-care activities can be small things – such as drinking a glass of water, stretching, or taking some deep breaths. Or they can be more challenging activities that take a longer time or more effort – for example, getting fit enough to run 5K, sorting out a messy room, or learning how to do grounding exercises.
The idea is that by doing self-care activities, you will feel better immediately and also in the longer term.
It’s important to remember that self-care doesn't need to be about setting lots of challenging goals. Instead, self-care activities should include whatever helps you to feel more safe, comfortable, healthy and nurtured.
Why is self-care important for survivors?
If you have experienced rape, sexual abuse, or any type of sexual violence, this can have a huge impact on how you feel. It can impact on your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing in many different ways.
Over time, taking care of yourself can help heal your body and mind from the impact of trauma.
Why can self-care be hard?
Many people find self-care hard. It can be a challenge to remember to make time for self-care, especially if you are often busy or have lots of different commitments.
Plus, changing your habits isn’t easy and can take time. Think about New Year’s resolutions - doing something once doesn’t mean that you will keep doing it!
Self-care is also more of a challenge if you are feeling stressed, down or anxious. However, it can make even more of a difference at these times.
If you are a survivor or victim of sexual violence or abuse, you might also find self-care a challenge for the following reasons:
- You might be used to using other coping methods that are not be so good for your wellbeing – for example, drinking lots of alcohol or self-harming. These things may give you some really effective short-term relief or happiness, and it can be very hard to stop doing them. However, they can cause harm in the long term.
- You might feel shame or blame yourself for what happened and how you feel – so you feel that you “don’t deserve” self-care. However, try to remember that you are not to blame, and it is not your fault. You could look at our guide on how to challenge self-blame.
- If you are feeling down or finding it hard to cope, you may feel like you don’t have the energy for self-care. However you might be able to identify very small or simple things that you can do to feel more taken care of.
Although self-care can be a challenge, even small steps will help. Choose activities that work best for you.
Remember, self-care should make you feel safe, comfortable, healthy and nurtured – not overwhelmed or stressed out.