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You can't pour from an empty cup: What is self-care and why is it important?

(Part 1)

What is self-care?

Connecting with parents and Norwood staff at our monthly family lunches could be self care!

Self-care is intentionally spending time and energy focusing on your needs with the goal of improving your overall well-being.

A common misconception about self-care is that it is or must be something we find fun, but this is not always the case.

Self-care can look like limiting how much time you spend with people who have not respected your boundaries, cleaning the house, or seeking out various mental and physical health supports, among other things.

"Self-care is meant to increase our well-being and sometimes that means doing things we don’t always want to do."

Self-care looks different for everyone, what works for you will most likely not work for the next person. There will be a little bit of trial and error before you find the things that work for you and it is important to be patient and give things time to work before you try something else.

The trial-and-error period will look different for everyone, if you’re struggling to implement your self-care activities or just don’t know what to do, we would love to support you in making a self-care plan that works best for you. We also have some resources linked at the bottom of this blog to help get you started, so be sure to check those out!


Why is self-care important?

Self-care increases our ability to handle the events of everyday life. When people engage in self-care regularly it:

  • reduces stress

  • increases our energy and ability to focus

  • affects our ability to respond to challenges that arise rather than react to them

Self-care has lots of benefits for your children too. When your children see you practicing self-care they are learning how to set and maintain boundaries with others, how to cope stress in a healthy way, and how to ask for help if, and when, they need it. Self-care also helps you continue to build healthy and secure attachments with your child!

In addition to all of these wonderful things, practicing self-care regularly ensures that we are able to be there for others when they need some extra support in their lives. We cannot support others if we are not okay ourselves. This goes for our children too, it is significantly harder to respond calmly and logically to our children during the 2nd, 3rd, or even 10th temper tantrum of the day when we are feeling extra run down from outside stressors in our lives.


Okay but how do I actually do self-care?

Our “Parenting & Self-Care” handout has some information on these areas including some activities you can do that will support you within each of them.

When creating a self-care plan, you want to identify activities you can do that will help fulfill your needs in each of these areas; one activity can fulfil needs in multiple areas.

Please note, not all of your activities have to be done every day, some will take more time and planning.

Once you know what activities support your well-being, you can engage with them as needed and work to create a self-care routine.

A self-care routine will help you manage stress and fatigue on a regular basis so when more stressful situations do arise, you’re better equipped to manage and, depending on how far into your self-care journey you are, ideally you won’t feel the effects of those stressors as intensely.


When reflecting on our lives and stressors, it's important to note little things.

For example, when things aren’t going well you may realize that:

  • you’re not sleeping very well/having difficulties falling asleep

  • feeling rushed more than usual

  • are quicker to anger and yell

  • change in appetite

  • you’re going out of the house less/more

  • not spending as much time talking to friends and family

The same can be said when things are going well, you may notice yourself having better feeling more rested after sleep, having more energy, spending more time with friends and family, spending less time worrying, engaging in more activities that bring you joy and help you feel rejuvenated.


When it comes to making a self-care plan the easiest place to start is with the basics, also known as your physical self-care; are you maintaining good hygiene practices, getting enough sleep, eating enough nutritious food, drinking enough water and getting in enough physical activity day-to-day.

Once you’ve addressed the basics you can start to dive more into your other needs. This starts by asking yourself what area you want or need to improve for your overall well-being.

This will not happen overnight, and you don’t want to overwhelm yourself either, it is best to start with one area and work your way through them from there. If you don’t have a clear reason to choose any one area over another, choose one that you think you can manage taking on and that you believe will have the greatest impact on your life right now.


At Norwood Centre our team of qualified Family Support Workers work to provide tools that caregivers can use to support themselves and their families, as their children develop. We hear you! If you have a question or concern, please ask us. Call 780-471-3737.



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