The Importance of Self-Care

The Importance of Self-Care

self-careSelf-care is a simple concept, yet for many of us, it can be incredibly difficult in practice. It is especially challenging for victims and survivors of abuse, who are often made to feel like they are not worthy of love or care. But the truth is that everyone deserves to be cared for, and we all have the power to be our own caregivers. That’s what self-care is all about; taking care of yourself in ways that feel best to you, focus on your own health and well-being, and bring you comfort.

If you have experienced abuse in your life, self-care may seem like a foreign concept, exhausting, or pointless to consider. You might be questioning how it could be of any use to you, which is totally understandable. It helps to remember that self-care is not selfish or self-indulgent; it’s simply one tool you can turn to when coping with or healing from an abusive relationship. At first, doing self-care might not feel “normal” to you, and that’s okay. Start by making small, gradual changes and focus on being gentle with yourself.

Making sure basic needs are met is the foundation of self-care. Do you get adequate sleep? Do you eat regular meals? Is physical activity part of your daily life? For some people, meeting these basic needs might not be possible all at once, so it might be helpful to focus on one at a time. Others may choose to make a list to remind themselves to meet at least one basic need or do one self-care activity daily. There is no wrong way to care for yourself; think about what feels right for you and your situation.

If you’ve got the hang of meeting basic needs, try brainstorming other activities that you might enjoy doing, or that you once enjoyed but haven’t done in a while. We often recommend keeping a personal journal of thoughts as a form of self-care, but only if you’re in a safe place or your abusive partner won’t have access to it. However, if journaling doesn’t appeal to you there are plenty of other options. Here are just a few examples: reading a book, taking a walk, drinking a cup of tea, knitting, drawing, painting, cycling, swimming, watching a funny movie, taking a bath, talking to a friend, baking, taking three deep breaths, praying, meditating, volunteering, taking photos, playing a video game, playing or cuddling with a pet, attending a support group or counseling session, stretching, listening to your favorite song, dancing, singing, daydreaming – all of these things count as self-care, and some of them don’t take more than a few minutes. What matters is finding what works for you.

Do you have additional suggestions, or are there particular self-care activities that work for you? Leave a comment! Also, check out our (growing) self-care board on Pinterest.

If you need help incorporating self-care into your life, our advocates are here for you. Give us a call at 1-800-799-7233, or chat online  24/7/365.

Comment section

16 replies
  1. I been with my partner for over 12 years the violance has increase i have 3 kids and dont know what to do. I feel worthless I need help asap.. Im tired of this his never going to change.. Every day is a struggle for me..

  2. Hi Liz,

    Thank you so much for reaching out. I know it can be hard to ask for help. Twelve years is an incredibly long time to be with someone who is abusive. We also see that abuse will often escalate, getting worse over time. I’m sure having to raise 3 children in the middle of that is really stressful. You are not worthless and you are not alone. I would encourage you to call us at 1(800)799.7233. We are here 24/7 and we are completely confidential/anonymous. We can talk to you about your situation, hopefully develop a plan for your safety and than get you connected to any resources that can help.

    Until then,
    Hotline Advocate MC

  3. Lisa,
    If you’d like to talk with an advocate about what’s happening in your relationship don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
    You can contact our hotline 24/7 at 1.800.799.7233 or you can chat with us at thehotline.org M-F from 9 AM to 7 PM CST.
    We’re completely confidential and anonymous.

    Hotline Advocate KK

  4. If you walk out to go to a public place and call the police or domestic violence hotline, helping someone in their home may get everyone killed, even a policeman abusers are volatile and dangerous.

  5. it does not get better you cannot fix him, you can fix yourself by getting out and getting help, if he wants to get help for his problems he can to but they very seldom believe they have a problem they think it is all you

  6. what about the daughters and sons of mothers that where abused where do We go, how do we Heal from watching mami getting beat…how do we Move on, how do we LIVE?

  7. Hi Josie,

    Watching someone you love, especially a parent, go through abuse is traumatic and it is important you have the support and resources you need to heal as well. Although this blog post was written with survivors of intimate partner violence in mind, the ideas still can be applied to others that are healing. If you would like to talk with an advocate about what you witnessed and your own healing journey please never hesitate to reach out. We have advocates available to chat from 7am to 2am CST and reachable by phone 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233.

    Take Care,

    Hotline Advocate LC

  8. I just left for the third time and he put me in the hospital and I don’t understand why I want to go back so bad he has hurt me multiple times and I don’t understand why I want to run back to death help me understand

  9. Hi Alex,

    That is hopeful to hear that you have been able to leave. You definitely do not deserve the abuse from him, and it sounds so painful and difficult to go through that in your relationship. It can take multiple times of leaving before a person is finally able to get out of an abusive relationship and leave permanently, so do not be too harsh on yourself for going back and for missing him. Breaking up is almost always difficult, and breaking up with an abusive partner can be even more difficult because you not only miss him but you feel like you are not allowed to. On top of that, you may be scared what might happen in terms of the escalation of the abuse. That’s ok to have those feelings, and it’s important to acknowledge they are normal even if they are difficult to process.

    It sounds like it might be good for you to talk more about this with one of our advocates either over the phone or by chat. Please call us 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or chat online at http://www.thehotline.org every day from 7am-2am CST.


    Hotline Advocate CC

  10. I want to thank the hotline for the help in dealing with my best friend in an abusive relationship. I watched him begin to date and abusive and controlling guy.

    Emotional abuse and control started 2 weeks in, it escalted physical abuse resulting in a broken rib. I thought for sure he was done a number of times. He had the key to my home, came to talk several times and even stayed with me a few days on one od the break ups. But he went back several times.

    He went back to him 7 or 8 times. I think it’s finally over for good.

    I called one night in desperation not knowing what to do. I was ready to give up and dump my friend because he continued to return against his own better judgement and family and friends advice. You helped know what to do, what to do to support him until he decided to leave for good.

    He later told me that he felt everyone else in his life had abandoned him.. I am happy I reached out and the Hotline was able to help me be a supportive friend.. a million thanks!!

  11. i found keeping a running list of possible activities to do really helpful, so that when i had a moment of positivity/clarity, i could refer to said list and try a couple things out. that way i wouldn’t be forced to brainstorm activities during the good moments and waste valuable energy/mindspace.

  12. If you have a place to go or family that can give you support, stay away from your husband. He is not going to change and you and your kids don’t deserve to be treated bad.

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