Self-care and why it matters

You are likely to already have an idea of what self-care means for you: finding time to relax after a difficult day; going for a run or walk; having a skincare routine. Self-care is anything you do deliberately to look after any aspect of yourself – be that mentally, physically, socially, emotionally, financially, spiritually or anything else. Despite this pretty simple definition and most people having an idea of what self-care is, it can be difficult do fit self-care into a day, and particularly at work.

However, particularly for money advisers and other people who spend a lot of their day helping others, self-care is vital to help avoid burnout and to maintain your own wellbeing. The idea here is not to give you even more to add to your to-do list! But it is worth trying to find ways to integrate self-care into your daily routine – or to recognise and appreciate what you’re already doing for yourself as self-care. Without self-care it is easy to give of oneself at work and at home without taking the time to re-energise, which can leave you feeling run down and overworked.


Self-care and different types of wellbeing

As with all wellbeing topics, what constitutes self-care and what kind someone might need or most benefit from is going to vary widely from person to person. Below are some ways to integrate self-care into your working day for your physical, mental and social wellbeing. Most of these tips are things to do during the workday, but some can or might be done at any point in a day.

Physical self-care:

  • Set a timer or calendar reminder to get up, stretch and move around every hour or ninety minutes
  • Be sure to eat lunch – and try to have it away from your desk
  • Try to get outside during your work day; this can be particularly difficult when working from home, so trying to fit in a walk before or after work to emulate a commute can be a way to fit in some fresh air when your office is in your own home
  • Make sure your workstation isn’t doing you physical harm; do you have enough wrist support? Do you need a footrest? Is your chair and computer at the right height? The HSE’s DSE checklist is a free download you can use to assess your workspace.

Mental self-care:

  • Write tomorrow’s to-do list at the end of a work day so it isn’t playing on your mind in the evening
  • Keep a notepad by your bed if you’re prone to staying awake worrying; writing down the issue can help you rest because now you know you won’t forget it and you will be able to address it in the morning
  • If there is something looming on your calendar you know will take up a lot of bandwidth, try to schedule some decompression time or a lighter day around it. You might plan in 15 minutes of extra ‘writing up’ time after an appointment to catch your breath, or arrange a call with a colleague to debrief
  • Practise positivity or gratitude
  • Have something scheduled to look forward to – whether it’s a holiday later in the year, a meal out later in the week, or a favourite TV show later in the evening, being able to think ahead to the future helps us feel more in control
  • Take time for recharge – whatever that means to you. It might be spending longer in bed, exercising, reading, pursuing a sport or hobby, a beauty regime, spending time with loved ones, or something else entirely. Making time for even half an hour a week dedicated to relaxing can help you to recentre and challenge burnout
  • Practice mindfulness to help you identify and challenge stressed out thought patterns and stay relaxed. For information on how to fit mindfulness into your workday, please consider attending one of our Protecting Your Wellbeing sessions, or for an introduction to some mindfulness techniques please sign up for our Mindfulness Break e-learning module


Social self-care:

  • Buddy up with a colleague to make sure you both finish on time at the end of the day and that you have someone to talk if you need to get something off your chest
  • Reach out to colleagues using the channels available to you
  • Take time to consider those close to you and what you value about them

Challenges and solutions

Self-care can be easy to talk about but difficult to enact. Various challenges come up which present a barrier to performing self-care. However, there are ways to address a range of concerns which might block a consistent self-care practice.

If you feel you are too stressed to do self-care, it might be worth waiting until your stress levels subside a little and then considering what you might be able to do to create a routine around self-care. What your routine looks like will be unique to you, but when struggling with wellbeing it can be difficult to do the things we know might make us feel better. Having a pattern in place when you’re feeling OK can make it easier to continue with the routine during more difficult times.

If you feel you don’t have time to do self-care, remember that the definition is really very simple – anything we do on purpose to look after ourselves is self-care. Therefore you might benefit from reframing what self-care looks like. Cooking and eating a meal, going to bed early, taking a shower and even brushing your teeth are all acts of self-care that many of us do on autopilot. These kinds of activities would be self-care if they were done with the intention of being so. You might also carve time out of existing activities to make them self-care, such as swapping looking at your phone before bed for fifteen minutes reading a book.

Sometimes taking the time for self-care can be accompanied with feelings of guilt or pressure,  particularly when at work because it can sometimes feel like we owe our employer or our clients 100% of ourselves when we’re at work, and try and work through as a result of that. Reframing can be useful here – pausing to take care of yourself means that you can better offer help to others. It is better to take 5 minutes for a cup of tea and a biscuit than be vague or distracted in a client interview because you’re feeling hungry, thirsty or rushed.


Self-care is an important item in the wellbeing tool-box, and we encourage you to find ways to fit it into your workday.