In today’s video, I’m going to share my definition of self-care, what I do to take care of myself, and why it’s essential for everyone.

Read or watch below to learn more about what is self-care.

Zachary Stockill: If you’re at all interested in things like health and wellness and personal development, chances are very good you’ve encountered a term called self-care. Seems like everyone on Instagram and YouTube and a lot of people are talking about this idea of self-care and why it’s so important.

But what is self-care in very simple and practical terms? And why should it be non-negotiable for you and your weekly routine? 

In today’s video, I’m going to share my definition of self-care… What I do to take care of myself, and hopefully, inspire you to do something similar. 

So what is self-care? The definition is kind of embedded in the term: taking care of yourself, relying on yourself to cultivate habits, routines, tricks, techniques, whatever makes you feel healthy, grounded, and whole as a person. 

Taking care of yourself is the opposite of being selfish. 

The first thing I want to say in this video, the most important message I want to get across, is that taking care of yourself is the opposite of being selfish. 

And I mean that literally. A lot of people who watch my content, a lot of people who like what I have to say, a lot of coaching clients who sign up for one-on-one calls with me… It seems like they feel guilty or hesitant about taking time to take care of themselves. Because they care so much about other people in their life, their wife, their husband, their family, their kids, their friends, their community, their workplace, their jobs… they’re so invested in taking care of others that they don’t make any time to take care of themselves. 

Obviously, this level of commitment and sacrifice is really beautiful. And there’s something to be celebrated there. But I always think about “the airplane rule” when it comes to self-care, and when people feel guilty about taking time to take care of themselves. 

So what’s the airplane rule? You’ll probably remember: when you take your seats in your flight, when everyone’s all boarded, the airline staff delivers their safety routine. And one of the first things they say “is if there’s a sudden drop in air pressure in the cabin of the airplane, and the masks fall down… 

“Put on your mask first before you help someone else with theirs.” 

Why did they say this? Because you can only help other people in this situation if you first take a moment to help yourself. And in my view, this is why self-care should be non-negotiable for everyone. 

For everyone who deeply loves and cares about the other people in their lives: you’re only going to be able to help them, be a good influence around them, able to nurture them, if you take time first to nurture yourself.

This is why self-care is so important. So if you have any guilt or hesitation around taking care of yourself, around making self-care a priority, I hope you let them go. Because taking care of yourself will actually help you better take care of other people. Anytime you feel guilty about making time for self-care, remember the airplane rule.

I’d like to make self-care a little more real and a little more practical for you. And I think the best way you can do this is to spend some time journaling and determining what self-care looks like for you, specifically. 

What are the activities, habits, and practices that you can engage in that make you feel grounded, whole, and re-energized? 

what is self-care

Maybe after a long day or a long week? Obviously, we’re all going to be slightly different here. I can give you some of mine.

I’m an introvert, so I need alone time. It’s a non-negotiable for me. If I don’t get a little bit of alone time every single day I get edgy, agitated, and exhausted. I need time to be completely alone. 

Now what I do with that alone time can vary. I mean, I love hanging out in a swimming pool, listening to a good podcast, or playing my guitar, or taking a walk in nature. These are just examples. I could list many more. 

I’ve really thought about what are the things that I need to do to help me relax. And, the things I need to do that will help me better take care of other people, because I get a lot of demands and requests for my time: from my girlfriend, from friends, from coaching clients, from people like you watching these videos, sending the emails, et cetera, et cetera. There are a lot of demands on my time. 

And I know if I don’t take that time to myself I’m not going to be good at my job, I’m not going to be a good boyfriend, I’m not going to be a good son. 

I’m not going to be a good YouTuber, etc. And I’m sure the same is true for you. 

So I hope you take some time to journal about what exactly self-care looks like for you. And the way you can know if this activity is related to your own self-care is to ask yourself how you feel after you’ve done it. 

Do you feel re-energized, or inspired? Do you feel calm or grounded? Get as specific as possible about what exactly constitutes self-care for you. 

Part II of this process is asking yourself: What are the symptoms that are clear when I’m not taking care of myself? What happens to my life, moods, actions, emotions when I’m not taking care of myself? Or when I’m feeling drained and overwhelmed? And try to get as specific as possible. 

For example, when I’ve had a really crazy week, and I haven’t made time to take care of myself, I get edgy, I get irritable, and I get kind of cranky. And in general, all I want to do is just go hide. I don’t want to look at my computer, I don’t want to talk to anyone, I don’t want to see another human face. I just want to go into a corner and be completely alone. 

But when it gets to that point, that means I’ve waited too long. 

In other words, when I really notice that intense craving for solitude, that means that I haven’t taken care of myself as quickly as I should have. 

Because I’ve hit that breaking point, I’ve hit that wall.

You can ask yourself: What are the symptoms, what happens in my life in general, when I’m not taking care of myself?

Get as specific as you can about those things, about the way you feel, about how your interactions change, how people respond to you differently.

Part III in this process is simply realizing, moving forward, that you need to make self-care a non-negotiable. Sometimes it seems like people don’t understand what non-negotiable means. Non-negotiable is non-negotiable. 

Doesn’t matter what are the people requesting of you, doesn’t matter what your responsibilities are in other areas of your life…

You need to make time for yourself because that’s the only way you’re going to be able to be effective in every area of your life.

what is self-care

Make it a non-negotiable, and realize how important it is that you’re taking some time, at least a couple of times a week, for your “selfish time.”

Notice when those symptoms that we talked about in part II start to come up in your life. Notice when you’re getting edgy, irritable or aggravated or short with people when you don’t mean to be short. Start noticing when those symptoms are coming up, and then take that as a sign from the universe or God or whatever that it’s time to make some time for self-care as soon as possible. “Otherwise, I’m not going to be effective in my other responsibilities in life…”

And finally, the fourth part of this is to look at your daily schedule, and weekly schedule. Determine specific times when you can make time for self-care. 

For me, there are a couple of hours a week when I’m completely unavailable to the world. My girlfriend can’t contact me, my friends can’t contact me. I’m off the grid. I am doing what I need to do to feel grounded, to feel whole, to feel energized in my life. It’s non-negotiable. I’m off the grid at this time. 

And sometimes people will not react well to that. Especially if you’ve been engaged in certain habits for long periods of time, where you’re kind of “always available.”

Sometimes people will have negative reactions to you taking care of yourself. 

And sometimes, unfortunately, that might mean that you need to set some very, very clear and firm boundaries

And in extreme cases, it might mean you need to cut someone off. If a friend is always kind of leeching your time, and they’re not okay with you taking care of yourself, chances are good, that’s not a real friend. That’s an extreme example, but the point is it needs to be non-negotiable, and you need to make time for it whenever necessary. 

Because if you don’t, you will burn yourself out. It may take several months, it may even take several years, maybe even take a few decades. But you will reach that point where enough is enough. You’ll have some kind of breakdown, you’ll hit some kind of wall where you’re totally depleted, totally not energized. 

And that can have some serious and dramatic consequences for your life, for the relationships with the people you love, et cetera, et cetera. Remember the airplane rule, and always make self-care a priority.

If you’re constantly struggling with boundaries in relationships, or you’re struggling with retroactive jealousy, and need some personalized guidance and support, then you can connect with me for one-on-one coaching.


Zachary Stockill
Zachary Stockill

Hi! I'm a Canadian author and educator whose work has been featured in BBC News, BBC Radio 4, The Huffington Post, and many other publications. I'm the founder of RetroactiveJealousy.com, the author of Overcoming Retroactive Jealousy and The Overcoming Jealousy Workbook, and the host of Humans in Love podcast.