Do You Practice Enough Self-Care

14 Easy Ways to Care for Yourself Every Day.

by Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Emotional Well-being

One of the biggest challenges women face is learning how to care for themselves while caring for others. It requires a delicate balance between what often feels like polar opposites. I’ve spent a lifetime studying self-care. And I’ve come to the conclusion that good self-care is the single most important aspect of our health— period.

On the other hand, the programming of self-sacrifice ultimately leads to health-destroying sentiments such as guilt, resentment, anger, and other emotions linked to high levels of stress hormones. Self-sacrifice feels wrong to us on a soul level because our spirit gravitates naturally toward joy and happiness.

That’s why self-sacrifice ultimately makes us sick and keeps us stuck in dead-end situations—and why self-care is so essential to living a happy, healthy life. How well we care for ourselves is determined, in part, by how well our mothers cared for us (and themselves). Ultimately, however, it’s our responsibility to learn how to optimally care for ourselves regardless of what happened (or didn’t) with our mothers. We refine this process throughout our entire lives.

The key is knowing in your heart that the best way you can care for others is by caring for yourself. I know this requires a paradigm shift for many of you!
Despite what you’ve been brought up to believe, caring for oneself is not an example of a zero sum model where your gain is someone else’s loss.

Everyone benefits from a woman who knows how to care for herself. Self-care sustains and enhances the health of all those around you. That’s why flight attendants tell you to secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others.

9 Easy Ways to Enhance Your Health Through Self-Care

When women think of self-care, they often think it will be expensive—like you have to go get a massage or a facial. But really there are many ways to take care of yourself—body, mind, and spirit—using just what you have readily at your disposal.

Here are some of my tips for making self-care a part of your daily health:

1. Tap into healing energy regularly. Your body is connected to a healing stream of energy (also known as chi, prana, light, Source, and God) that you can absorb at will. All you need to do is be aware of it and be open to receive it! This is the basis for the healing power of prayer. One prayer service I like is Silent Unity. Silent Unity has volunteers who will pray with you and then pray continuously for 30 days. You simply tell the volunteer your concerns and they will pray with you.

Another particularly powerful way to absorb this healing energy is through Divine Love Petitions as taught by Robert Fritchie, founder of The World Service Institute. Divine Love is the most powerful energy in the universe. You receive it into your body through your thymus gland, located just below your sternum. To learn how to do a Divine Love petition go to The World Service Institute website. This practice has been associated with many well-documented physical and emotional healings that conventional medicine cannot explain.

2. Become your own best mother. Treat yourself the way your ideal mother would. Talk to yourself in a nurturing way. Provide for yourself that which you wish you had received from your own mother. For example, say to yourself, “Darling, I see that you’re tired. Why don’t you lie down and take a nice nap. When you get up, we’ll have a nice cup of hot tea” or “I see that you need a break. How about a nice hot bath and a good book.” You get the picture.

3. Do something pleasurable every day. Taking time for pleasure and fun decreases the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin, which over time, are responsible for heart disease, cancer, and most chronic diseases such as arthritis and high blood pressure. Plus when you take time for enjoyment, you’ll be able to approach arduous tasks with more energy and a better outlook.

4. Breathe. Breathing in fully through your nose instantly engages the rest and restore parasympathetic nervous system and helps the body metabolize stress hormones. Put Post-it notes on your phone, your computer, and your bathroom mirror. Write BREATHE in beautiful letters to remind yourself to breathe fully.

5. Get support. Find a self-care buddy and agree that each of you will hold the other accountable for taking care of herself. Start with my suggestions and add your own ideas. Brag to each other about how well you’re doing and especially how well you are caring for yourself. Plan to call your friend whenever you start to slip into over-care of others.

6. Just say “no.” When someone asks you to do something you don’t really want to do, say “no.” Saying “no” to something you don’t want to do is saying “yes” to yourself! If saying “no” makes you feel guilty or unworthy this usually means you’re letting the needs of others overshadow your own. Only you know how much you can handle without over-committing. Over time, you’ll strengthen your “no” muscle and also attract friends who support your need to set healthy boundaries.

7. Don’t ask for permission. No one is going to give you permission to take care of yourself, although we often desperately want someone to do so! I remember being on call in the hospital watching the nurses give each other breaks. I yearned for one of my colleagues to give me permission to take a break after being up all night. But no one did because the culture of medicine (particularly a surgical specialty) is so macho. I ended up with a huge breast abscess that dissected into my chest wall while I was trying to nurse my first daughter and work full-time. I learned a huge lesson about self-care because I destroyed my ability to nurse my second child from both breasts!

8. Prepare to be called “selfish.” When you start taking better care of yourself, people may accuse you of being selfish. If this happens, celebrate! Then call your self-care buddy to brag about it! After all, taking care of yourself is prevention at the most fundamental level. If you find yourself constantly saying you don’t have time to care for yourself, then ask yourself whether you time to be sick, or if dying prematurely is the best way to take care of your loved ones.

9. Treat your body as a temple. Your body houses your soul. It’s your job to take care of your body until you leave it—the same way you take care of your house or your car. This is your responsibility. It doesn’t belong to your doctor, your spouse, or your mother. It’s that simple. We are beings of light. Our bodies are the densest, darkest matter. When you see your body as a temple for your soul and treat it with love, and kindness and respect, you are bringing light into the darkest area.

5 More Ways to Improve Your Level of Self-Care

1. Change your beliefs. Optimal care of your body begins with your beliefs. Every thought you think is accompanied by biochemical signals that move throughout your body. Serotonin, dopamine, and epinephrine are neurotransmitters that affect all areas of your body, and their production is based on what you think and feel. Stressful thoughts filled with anger, fear, or sadness increase stress-hormone levels in your body, which ultimately leads to cellular inflammation—the root cause of osteoporosis, depression, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and cancer. But this isn’t the only way your thoughts affect your health. They can literally determine which genes get expressed! It’s important to know and believe that your body was designed for health, vitality, and well-being for your entire life. Cultivate a healthy belief system about what’s possible physically—especially as you move through time. And engage in the physical activities necessary to maintain your physical self.

2. Treat yourself like a precious child. Self-care is something that our society does not reward us for. In fact, it is often looked down on when someone, especially a woman, takes care of herself. I was reminded of once when I was watching my granddaughter, Penelope. I was cleaning up the living room and realized that she was hungry. Of course I stopped to take care of her. I would never starve my granddaughter. Yet, I have certainly done this to myself! Learning to treat ourselves the way we would a precious child connects us with our Divinity. You can practice this by doing simple things such as using the rest room when you have the urge, or eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. It also helps to set out a meal for yourself on a plate and actually sit down and enjoy it instead eating on the run or standing at the kitchen counter.

3. Make gravity work for you. Sitting for more than 6 hours a day increases your risk of disease including heart attack, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and cancer. In fact, even if you exercise regularly, prolonged sitting cancels out a lot of the good effects. Standing all day is not the answer. The answer is moving your body through the gravitational field of the earth. Every time you move your body through gravity your body goes through thousands of minute physiologic changes in blood pressure, fluid exchange, hormone secretion, and stresses on bones and joints that help ensure health. So, if you sit at a desk, get up at least 6 times per hour. But if you can, it’s always best to add in something more such as stretching, knee bends or even squats. And remember, since the soul knows no timeline, it’s never too late to try some activity you have always wanted to do—dance, ride horses, ski, hike— whatever will keep you moving.

4. Take Care of Your Fascia. Fascia is the connective tissue that runs throughout your body. It connects skin to muscle and muscle to bone and every organ in the body. Our fascial network is a secondary nervous system. It can become dense, scarred, and thickened as a result of physical, emotional, or mental stress. Working your fascia regularly through body work, resistance flexibility, yoga, and other exercises can help you release old patterns that are stored there.

5. Feel Your Human Emotions. Being a spiritual being on a human journey requires that we feel human emotions. But with spiritual practices becoming very popular, so too is the practice of taking a “spiritual bypass” to avoid dealing with painful feelings, unresolved wounds and developmental needs. A spiritual bypass looks something like this: “It’s all good.” “Everything happens for a reason.” “Spiritual people don’t cry or have negative feelings.” “If you feel sad, you’re not spiritual enough.” While this may seem better than using alcohol or drugs, it has the same effect. Being a human being on a spiritual path requires that you are present in each moment for all of your feelings without letting those feelings define you. Now, this does not mean that you want to stay in a perpetual state of anger, victimhood, grief or sadness. These emotions lower your vibration. It simply means you allow your emotions to surface and embrace them fully without judgment, and then allow full expression of those emotions safely. That is the only way to deal with them successfully. Your soul actually learns from this process of deep awareness and release.

Doctor’s Orders: Prescription for Self-Care

When all else fails and you are having difficulty taking time to care for yourself, imagine that you have a prescription in front of you with your name, a doctor’s signature, and the following words on it:
• Rest when you are tired.
• Go the bathroom when you have to go.
• Do something that is fun and pleasurable every day.
• Breathe deeply and fully.
• Enjoy your life.
• Absorb the healing stream that comes from God.
• Remember that you are meant to live your life fully and joyfully.
• Mother yourself well.

Taking care of yourself regularly takes courage in our society. Far too many women get sick because it’s the only socially acceptable way to get the self-care they require.

What are you doing to take care of yourself regularly?

Last Updated: May 8, 2024

Christiane Northrup, M.D.

Christiane Northrup, M.D., is a visionary pioneer and a leading authority in the field of women’s health and wellness. Recognizing the unity of body, mind, and spirit, she empowers women to trust their inner wisdom, their connection with Source, and their ability to truly flourish.


Add comment
  1. Maureen
    2 months ago

    I have been trying to do more self-care in the last year. It is not easy because as stated we feel like we are being selfish. It is not selfish when called upon to help other but to help ourselves it is. It is like it is stated at the start of a flight–put your mask on first in case of emergency because if you don’t then you can’t help anyone else. I have always been there for all the other members of my family (and there are a number of us) but usually put myself last. I catch myself doing so now and again in my relationship with family members still. I want to be there for others, but I deserve the right to be here for myself.

  2. Debbie
    5 years ago

    What a beautiful and most worth ‘prescription’. Why is it we know these things deep down but due to shaming by our society we don’t often enough give ourselves permission. It took me until mid forties to realize this and now am in my mid sixties. I just heard you on the Food Revolution Summit where you said years ago you would get a massage and your husband would chide you for not asking permission and concerned about the money when he wouldn’t think of asking you for something he wanted. I and probably most other women have had that same experience plenty of times. So glad I found your web site!

  3. Amy Crull
    5 years ago

    Thank you. I just checked into your website before I host Christmas in one hour. I needed to hear your words and do a divine petition to get me in a good place. Thank you for the work you do. You help us so much and in turn we help others.

  4. Nelisa
    8 years ago

    Ive only just foubd your website and it os totally speaking to my soul. Thanks HEAPS Christiane 🙂

  5. Sharon Henderson
    8 years ago

    THANK U Dr. Northrop for ALL your help with assisting us to live a BETTERLIFE!

  6. TJA
    8 years ago

    Thank you so much for “giving permission” at the end of this article. I started crying (still am) feeling your conviction in wanting to help us care for ourselves more. I am the black sheep of my family (sometimes feels like I am of society too) that now takes a lot of self care. It sometimes makes me feel weak, not normal, and guilty – but I still do it anyhow. Thank you for this. xo

  7. Jean S.
    8 years ago

    Thank you Christiane for the wonderful guide of self care! I’m so fortunate that I married a wonderful man who, when I insist on being driven to get EVERYTHING done, will walk over to me, take the broom out of my hand, guide me to a comfy chair and gently say “Enough”. He can always see when I am tired or am overdoing it. I am now learning to follow his example of doing what I can and then sit down for the evening and enjoy a good book, TV show, or music. Such awesome advice “Be present for all your feelings without letting those feelings define you.” So many people don’t understand that we are not our feelings.
    Feelings just are. Let them come in, keep breathing, and gently let them go. If the feelings are real intense, it sit down, let them wash over me, breathe, breathe, breathe and relax and let them flow. If they stay with me for awhile that is ok too. Maybe tomorrow my release will come. Thank you again for all you do! Love to you!!!

  8. Marjana
    8 years ago

    Ah, dear Christiane, you are just so so wonderful and real and inspiring and heart touching…. and I wish I could give you a big HUG. I have been following your work for about 20 years now. I still remember to this day when I was sitting in a coffee shop, talking to a woman about life and she mentioned your name and suggested I buy your book Women’s bodies, women’s wisdom. Which I did! A whole new world opened to me reading this book and helped me on many occasions get out of the darkness. I am now listening to you on Hay House radio regularly and I just can’t thank you enough for all the wisdom and hope and courage you bring to us. And the guests you host!!! I would have probably never heard of them unless I heard you talk to them on the radio and suggest their work. This is so precious. I have bought many of the books that you suggested.
    The topic about Self Care is so relevant for me at this moment and I am practicing all the steps. Sometimes i forget, and then I get reminded by a buddy like you!!! Thank you.

  9. Jude
    8 years ago

    Thank you dear Christine…today I have visited my GP for my maintenance check and to do the essential tests. Yes self care…I am going on a week long Silent retreat next week. Yes self care. Now I have just written your 6 ways to care for yourself in my nurturing book. Just to remind myself of ways to care for myself each day. Thank you for all the ways you share your wisdom…yes we are blessed. As are you.

  10. Kitty
    8 years ago

    Wow! What great loving wisdom you are sharing with us Christine! Thank you from my heart. Reading it, is healing in itself. May you continue to flourish.
    Love, light and gratitude

  11. Dee Light
    8 years ago

    Yes, a rich, generous, imperative list if we want to be WELL. I remember in a heated moment with my mother, who is now 85, as she yelled at me..’What gives you the right to be happy!!?? ” She is now on an oxygen machine, multiple drugs and cannot leave the house. I remember feeling I had to fight with every ounce of my being to separate myself from my family. That somehow my own happiness depended on NOT being around her. Being the source of her pain and disappointment, as she told me, was not a healthy place to be!!! So, many years later, I live 2 hours flight away, have learnt to be my own mother and best friend, and live outside the vortex of emotional pain generated by my birth family. Saying no, and hanging up the phone, was the very best thing I ever did. Then drink lots of tea, take many a bath, massage, walk, laugh often, surround myself with women who hug and smile and respect and love me, and never once have I called my now 23 year old daughter a Good Girl. Oh, it takes courage, practice, fortitude and self love. Oh, and my dog helped, alot. Christiane, thank you for all you do, say, write and be. We’re a healthier, more robust, more alive group of women on the planet because of your relentless care! I’ll take your prescription any day. Much love X

    1. Christiane
      8 years ago

      First of all– how could you EVER have a better name: Dee Light. I just had a DNA scrub yesterday as a birthday present from Belinda Womack ( Together the angels and I scrubbed the DNA of both my maternal and paternal DNA. A profound way to NOT pass on the lineage of feeling unlovable and “not enough” that so very many of us inherited from our ancestors. I applaud you for all the of the soul work you have done on yourself. This is how we heal the planet. One heart at a time.

  12. Arlene
    8 years ago

    Your blog about self care was so very timely for me. I work as a Human Resources Manager and following a very stressful 12 months, I have just been diagnosed with adrenal fatigue by my doctor. This is a wake up call for me, and I know that my body is now shouting Wake Up! My profession is renowned for looking after the welfare of all employees, however we were never taught or told to care for ourselves too – let alone first. I started practising my self care as I read your blog, through a few tears of incredible realisation. Thank you for reminding all of us that ‘we’ matter.
    Arlene, Australia

    1. Christiane
      8 years ago

      The healthcare field us right up there in the “lack of self care” school of charm. Bless you for having the courage to buck the system and actually care for YOURSELF BEFORE you become a patient.

  13. Adrienne Gill
    8 years ago

    I shall spread your precious prescription far and wide! I shall commit to a lifetime of self loving care and be the best example and inspiration for myself and all my loved ones near, far and dear. Thank you dear doctor Northrup ❤️
    Love & Light,
    Adrienne Gill

  14. Becca Pronchick
    8 years ago

    Thank you Dr. Northrup! For years I have called my wellness coaching business “Permission To Relax” and love receiving your permission (Doctor’s Orders) to rest, breathe and enjoy life. This week I quoted from “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom” on Forgiveness and always enjoy your inspiring messages.

  15. Emma
    8 years ago

    Perfect! Just when I needed it most. Healing lung cancer with Divine Love, tapping, and family’s positive input and support. Am a bit urinated since I quit smoking 32 years ago. Working on that too

    1. Christiane
      8 years ago

      Nice going!! I applaud you!! What you heal in your, you help heal in ALL OF US!!

  16. Ana
    8 years ago

    Thank you, Christiane. This is wonderful.

  17. Jennifer
    8 years ago

    Thank you for this. I have been getting much better at self care of the years but your reminder today was very helpful.

  18. Laura Aye
    8 years ago

    This is just the reminder that I needed in the middle of my work week.
    I am an Adult Probation Officer and I deal with some of the sickest people, both physically and mentally, that I have ever met. I have printed some of your blogs and shared them with some of the clients that I think are open to a positive change. I usually meet these people for the 1st time straight from court, jail or prison. They come in confused, frustrated or scared. It is our job as P.O.s not only to explain court orders and hold them accountable, but also to try to change a few minds and hopefully break the pattern that creates the behavior. Your wisdom is just 1 of the many tools that I pull from my toolbox to try to make a difference. Over the years I have gotten some amazing results. Thanks you!

    1. Christiane
      8 years ago

      Man or man. You are RIGHT on the front lines of all of this. And I applaud you for having the courage to do the work you do. And the fact that you are bringing consciousness into the field of law enforcement absolutely delights me. Thank you so much.

  19. thank you so much! a precious giude for all women that nobody teaches

  20. Diane
    8 years ago

    Love & gratitude ✨✨

  21. Rebecca
    8 years ago

    Thank you – that was really beautiful and generous. I am grateful for you mentoring.

  22. Kelley Shea
    8 years ago

    Thank you for that beautiful post! Great way to start the day

  23. Keri
    8 years ago

    Thank you for sharing all of your wisdom. I listen to your hay house radio show and have had the pleasure of seeing you live in Portsmouth as you taped your PBS special several years back. ( I was in the audience).
    I felt the need to share with you that last night I had the most profound dream. I was suffering in my dream about how to heal and move on and somehow you appeared in my dream, walked up to me and hugged me. I mean this was the most loving hug I’d ever felt ( it actually brings tears to my eyes as I write this.). In my dream you were full of bright light surrounding you and you just held me, your arms stretched around me in the biggest hug. And you held on as if your light was passing through you and into me. I woke from the dream in the middle of the night and felt warmth and peace! How amazing! Thank you for all the light you spread around the world. I am blessed!

  24. Keri
    8 years ago

    Thank you for sharing all of your wisdom. I listen to your hay house radio show and have had the pleasure of seeing you live in Portsmouth as you taped your PBS special several years back. ( I was in the audience).
    I felt the need to share with you that last night I had the most profound dream. I was suffering in my dream about how to heal and move on and somehow you appeared in my dream, walked up to me and hugged me. I mean this was the most loving hug I’d ever felt ( it actually brings tears to my eyes as I write this.). In my dream you were full of bright light surrounding you and you just held me, your arms stretched around me in the biggest hug. And you held on as if your light was passing through you and into me. I woke from the dream in the middle of the night and felt warmth and peace! How amazing! Thank you for all the light you spread around the world. I am blessed!

  25. lenny estrin
    8 years ago

    Your Body, Your Temple is Very Correct.

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