Beyond the Bubble Bath: Self-Care for Real Life

Leah Donald

What images spring to mind when you hear the words “self-care”? . A vacation, or a relaxing night out with friends? Maybe your idea of self-care involves a scented candle and sinking into a warm bubble bath to escape your stress. Are these things self-care? They can be, but that’s only a small part of the picture. Self-care isn’t a mental health buzzword; it’s an intentional practice that keeps us in physical and emotional balance; prepared for life’s inevitable stressors. Self-care enhances well-being, which encompasses all the parts of our lives that contribute to good health. There are far-reaching health advantages to those who prioritize their own self-care (Pizzo, 2020).

The definition of self-care offered by the World Health Organization (2019), provides a strong statement about what intentional self-care can do for individuals and entire communities: “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider”. The World Health Organization’s definition broadens self-care to all of us, as an individual and interpersonal practice.  Butler, Mercer, McClain-Meeder, Horne & Dudley (2019) identified 6 domains of self-care to consider including in a well-rounded, preventative self-care regimen:

  • Physical: Getting enough sleep, planning nutritional meals and exercise.
  • Relational: Giving & receiving social support, prioritizing healthy relationships.
  • Emotional: Learning coping strategies to reducing negative experience and increase satisfaction.
  • Psychological: Intellectual pursuits based on  and self-awareness activities.
  • Spiritual: Connection to nature, meditation, secular or religious ritual.

It’s time we think of self-care as a priority, not an afterthought to manage when we find the time. Consider developing a self-care plan that encompasses the various domains that touch your life. Seek support from family or friends. Purpose to develop a self-care plan that fits you personally, and is sustainable in the long term. If you need more help, reach out to one of the Student Therapists available at the Olson Marriage and Family Therapy Clinic for extra support you to develop and maintain this commitment to your health.


Butler, L. D., Mercer, K. A., McClain-Meeder, K., Horne, D. M., & Dudley, M. (2019). Six domains of self-care: Attending to the whole person. Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, 29(1), 107–124.

Martin, E. M. (2021). College student self-care: a journey, not a destination. College Student Journal, 55(2), 208–218.

Pizzo, P. A. (2020). A prescription for longevity in the 21st century. Jama, 323(5), 415. doi:10.1001/jama.2019.21087

What do we mean by self-care? (2019, May 15). Retrieved from

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