Nurturing Self-Care in Challenging Times: A Compassionate Guide

Post it notes with self-care reminders next to a cup of tea

In the tapestry of life, there are moments when self-care, that gentle act of cherishing oneself, may feel like an elusive pursuit. Whether it’s navigating the labyrinth of low self-esteem, coping with personal distress following a loss, or confronting the shadows of past trauma, the journey towards self-care can sometimes seem daunting. This blog post is a gentle beacon, offering understanding and encouragement for those facing the intricate dance of self-care during difficult times.

Understanding the Struggle:

Firstly, let’s acknowledge the courage it takes to confront the challenges that may hinder your self-care journey. Whether you’re grappling with the weight of low self-esteem or navigating through the stormy aftermath of a loss, it’s okay to feel the struggle. Self-care is not a one-size-fits-all solution; it’s a personal journey, and every step forward, no matter how small, is a triumph.

Low Self-Esteem: A Compassionate Approach

  1. Be Kind to Yourself:

If low self-esteem is casting a shadow over your self-care efforts, start by being a friend to yourself. Replace self-critical thoughts with words of kindness. Imagine what you would say to a dear friend facing similar struggles, and offer yourself the same compassion.

  1. Small, Achievable Goals:

Break down self-care into manageable, bite-sized goals. Instead of overwhelming yourself with grand gestures, focus on tiny acts of self-kindness. Celebrate these small victories, for they are the stepping stones towards rebuilding a positive relationship with yourself.

  1. Seek Support:

Don’t hesitate to reach out for support, whether from friends, family, or professionals. Share your feelings and let others be a source of encouragement. Sometimes, a listening ear can be a profound balm for the soul.

Coping with Loss and Personal Distress

  1. Honour Your Feelings:

Grieving a loss or navigating personal distress is an intricate process. Allow yourself to feel the emotions that arise. It’s okay to grieve, to be angry, or to feel lost. Embracing these emotions is a vital part of the healing journey.

  1. Create a Gentle Routine:

In times of distress, establishing a gentle routine can provide a sense of stability. This doesn’t mean you need to conquer a monumental to-do list. Focus on the basics – nourishing meals, sufficient rest, and moments of solace.

  1. Express Yourself:

Find a channel to express your emotions, whether through journaling, art, or talking with a trusted friend. Creativity and expression can serve as a therapeutic outlet, helping you navigate through the layers of personal distress.

Long-Term Struggles: A Journey, Not a Sprint

  1. Professional Guidance:

If your struggle with self-care is deeply entrenched, consider seeking professional guidance. Therapists and counselors can provide tailored strategies to address underlying issues, offering a supportive framework for lasting change.

  1. Cultivate Patience:

Recognise that healing is a gradual process. Self-care isn’t a destination; it’s a journey filled with twists and turns. Cultivate patience with yourself, understanding that progress may be slow but every effort is a step in the right direction.

  1. Break the Isolation:

Long-term struggles can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation. Reach out to support groups, online communities, or friends who may be going through similar challenges. Sharing experiences can provide solace and a sense of connection.

Encouragement for the Journey:

As you navigate the complexities of self-care during difficult times, remember that your journey is unique, and your resilience is immeasurable. Embrace the process with kindness, and know that seeking support is not a sign of weakness but a courageous step towards healing.

In every act of self-care, no matter how small, you are sowing seeds of compassion and nurturing resilience. The path may be winding, but with each step, you are rewriting the narrative of your relationship with yourself. May this journey be filled with moments of gentleness, understanding, and the unwavering belief that you deserve the love and care you so willingly offer to others.



Michael Kearney, Radhule Weininger (2011), Whole Person Self-Care: Self-Care from the Inside Out

Noemí Sansó, Laura Galiana, Amparo Oliver, Antonio Pascual, Shane Sinclair, Enric Benito, (2015), Palliative Care Professionals’ Inner Life: Exploring the Relationships Among Awareness, Self-Care, and Compassion Satisfaction and Fatigue, Burnout, and Coping With Death,Journal of Pain and Symptom Management,

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Jin, X.; Chen, Y.; Zhou, R.; Jiang, X.; Chen, B.; Chen, H.; Li, Y.; Chen, Z.; Zhu, H.; Wang, H. Life in a New Normal with a Self-Care Routine: A Cross-Sectional Study of Older Adults’ Daily Health Behaviors (DHB) Performance during the Initial Outbreak of COVID-19 in China. Nutrients 2022, 14, 1678.

Barnett, J. E., Baker, E. K., Elman, N. S., & Schoener, G. R. (2007). In pursuit of wellness: The self-care imperative. Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, 38(6), 603–612.

Patricia H. Crist PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA , Christine G. Davis OTR & Patricia S. Coffin MOT, OTR/L (2000) The Effects of Employment and Mental Health Status on the Balance of Work, Play/Leisure, Self-Care, and Rest, Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 15:1, 27-42, DOI: 10.1300/J004v15n01_02


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