Skip to Content


Self-care is a method of taking care of oneself. HCA Virginia identifies ways to recognize and incorporate self-care into your daily life.

Mental health and wellness plays a critical role in your overall well-being. Mental health includes our emotional, behavioral, psychological, and social well-being. Mental health affects how we think, feel, and act, and also helps to determine how we handle stress, interact with others, and make good choices. Mental health is important across the lifespan, from childhood and adolescence, and through adulthood. Prevention interventions may help reduce the chances of developing a mental illness or substance use disorder, and may also help delay the onset or reduce the severity of a mental illness.


Ask yourself, when was the last time you did something just for yourself? If you cannot recall, or it’s been longer than a week, you need to make a plan. Self-care doesn’t necessarily mean “me first, it means “me too.” Self-care is an important part of building resilience, and bouncing back from stress, trauma, and burnout. Self-care can help you recognize your emotional responses to stress, and develop coping skills to manage them. Self-care is an investment in YOU.

Have you ever thought?

  • I don’t have time to put myself first
  • I feel guilty taking care of myself before others
  • It’s all my fault
  • I feel like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel
  • I feel selfish putting myself first
  • I am ashamed that I can’t get it together
  • I’m exhausted and tired of all the drama
  • I don’t have anyone I can count on or ask for help
  • I always feel so alone and isolated

What is self-care?

  • As the term becomes mainstreamed, we have drifted from its actual meaning
  • Self-care is not self-indulgence, rather it is self-preservation
  • Indulgence provides a short term escape, while self-care shifts your relationship with yourself and others in the long-term
  • Self-care’s core principle is listening and tending to the needs of our minds and bodies
  • Self-care is the key to living a balanced life
  • Each of us have different parts of ourselves that we need to take care of and different methods of carrying out this care

When you practice self-care you may...

  • Feel calmer
  • Feel more grounded
  • Feel more energetic
  • Feel healthier
  • Sleep better
  • Eat better
  • Have an easier time managing relationships
  • Have less anxiety of fewer negative thoughts
  • Feel better to cope with challenges

Self-care is not one size fits all

  • Self-care is now a $10 billion industry in the US
  • Self-care is about what we need to practice, not what we need to purchase
  • What works for you, may not work for your friend
  • It is what it does for YOU that is important
  • Self-care takes time and requires real commitment
  • Remember, research has shown that it takes at least 2 months to make a behavior a habit
  • Keep at it, because research also shows that if you miss a day, that will not affect making self-care a habit
  • Self-care is an investment in yourself, your validity, your happiness

Scheduling self-care

  • Self-care needs to be something you plan, rather than something that just happens
  • Add activities to your calendar
  • Announce your plans to others in order to increase your commitment
  • Wake up a few minutes earlier than normal
  • Look at how you spend your time and see where you waste time doing something that does not benefit your mental, physical, or spiritual health and BREAK THIS HABIT
  • Create a “no” list (not checking emails at night, not answering your phone during meals, etc.)
  • Sit outside or take a quick walk
  • Schedule “me time” and stick to it
  • Pick a self-care activity or area that is most important to you and focus on that
  • Plan for big self-care activities such as camping, dates, cooking, travel, etc. – whatever works for you

Self-care when managing working from home

  • Keep a regular schedule, with scheduled breaks
  • Create a home-to-work “commute”
  • Take a shower, fix your hair, “dress for work” (casual is fine)
  • Eat a real lunch
  • Set boundaries with your work schedule and availability
  • If possible, avoid working in your bed or in your bedroom. Carve out a designated workspace
  • Get up periodically, stretch, go outside if you can
  • Check in with your colleagues (“water-cooler chat”)
  • Communicate effectively both with colleagues and family, or other roommates (negotiate space needs, timeframes, noise levels, etc.
  • Ask for feedback while working remotely, and adjust as needed
  • If you have kids at home, get them involved in the self-care routine

Self-care while managing with social distancing

  • Do activities that bring you joy
  • Try a new activity or hobby
  • Continue working on your mental health needs (whether that’s continuing your medication regime or continuing therapy virtually)
  • Keep your home clean and tidy
  • Keep up normal hygiene routines
  • Exercise and stay active
  • Get fresh air (safely)
  • Change your clothes daily
  • Keep a regular sleep schedule (also for mental health)
  • Engage with your support networks (virtually)
  • Find the silver lining

Self-care while managing with the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Balance between staying informed and limited media consumption
  • Utilize resources with accurate information, avoid sensationalized media
  • Focus on controlling things that you can
  • Practice social distancing by communicating with others virtually
  • Avoid interacting with others who are sick
  • Eat right, take your vitamins, boost your immune system
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and use hand sanitizer regularly
  • Disinfect heavily touched areas (doorknobs, phones, etc.)
  • Abide by state and local government guidelines
  • Limit going out in public places and eating out especially
  • Pay attention to any symptoms, and stay home if you feel sick

Coping skills

Coping skills (sometimes called coping strategies) are activities or tactics you use when you’re in a stressful situation, and can help you tolerate, minimize, and deal with these stressors. Coping skills can be both simple tactics to use in the moment if you feel that you need to get control over your emotions. Coping skills can also be more habitual practices that you work into your daily routine to help keep you from being significantly affected by life’s stressors. Below, please find a list of 200 coping skills and healthy distractions. Please check out the list below, and see what works for you.

Recognizing symptoms and when to seek help

Do you recognize any of these symptoms?

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, worthless, or guilty
  • Excessive fears or worries, or extreme feelings of guilt
  • Extreme mood changes of highs and lows
  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Changes in energy level or sleep patterns, sex drive changes
  • Changes in appetite, eating habits, or weight
  • Inability to meet the daily demands of life (work, school, home) and/or inability to cope with daily problems or stress
  • Trouble understanding and relating to situations and to people
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities
  • Excessive anger, hostility, or violence
  • Noticeable restlessness or irritability
  • Confused thinking, difficulties concentrating, or making decisions
  • Problems with alcohol or drug use
  • Detachment from reality (delusions), paranoia, or hallucinations
  • Frequent thoughts of death or suicide

Free online mental health assessments

To aid individuals, families, and communities, we encourage those needing help to take a free mental health screening for anxiety and/or depression. Our health risk assessments are completely anonymous and confidential, and take only a few short minutes to complete. At the end, you will receive your results and information on how to seek help, if needed.

To aid individuals, families, and communities, we encourage those needing help to take a free mental health screening for anxiety and/or depression. Our health risk assessments are completely anonymous and confidential, and take only a few short minutes to complete. At the end, you will receive your results and information on how to seek help, if needed.