The many definitions of self-care, part two.

Part of my self-care is going home to see my family.

Me and my nephew- part of my self-care is going home to see my family.

Last week I posted the first installment of “The many definitions of self-care.”  Self-care is a tremendously important topic among the dance/movement therapy (DMT) community, and of all helping professions, because in order to help others we must first take care of ourselves.  Instead of writing about my own personal viewpoint of self-care, I reached out to my DMT community and messaged dance/movement therapists, DMT educators, and DMT students asking them to define self-care in a short paragraph or simple list of activities.  I hope to highlight how self-care is indeed a personal practice; a practice that must be molded to fit our unique needs.  Once again I was blown away by the answers I received- there is something so beautiful about witnessing others in their own personal introspection.  This time around I was reminded that self-care is an evolving practice and that it might look different on different days, weeks, or periods in our life.  Thanks to all those that took the time to contribute.

Below are the answers I received and this time I included my own definition.  If you’d like to contribute to the conversation e-mail me at

“Self-care is important for the mind, body, and spirit. I address self-care by paying attention to what my body needs. Sometimes, it needs chocolate. Other times, meditation or listening to music.  Most often, I practice self-compassion after a particularly challenging day.”

“Thanks for reaching out. I feel like my definition of self-care has changed so much (since it was so lovingly stuffed down our throats in Grad school! Hehe) Now that life has settled down a little bit and my brain has returned back to ‘normal’ post thesis – well, was it ever REALLY normal?

This past year/few months has been about rediscovering my hobbies and what makes me excited. For example – being in nature 24/7 (where I live now vs. living in the city of Chicago), spending loads of time with my dog Jane (pet therapy is REAL), taking up winter sports that I did ‘back in the day’ like snowboarding and also starting new hobbies, like guitar lessons. I am also doing Yoga Teacher training (almost) every weekend for 7 months – this gives me space and time to de-stress, get out the kinks that the work day seems to create, return to MY body (as opposed to my clients) and continue to learn (I realized that continuing to learn new things, especially about the body etc, keeps me motivated & confident).

Self-care has been about really noticing, appreciating and carving out the time to do the things I love. When I used to just flop on the couch and watch TV all night –believe me, I still adore this – fostering a community outside of my family & outside of my work – completely for me – that has been really helpful in caring for myself. Since taking on a new 9-5 job, I no longer have a lot of free time. Before this job, I worked for 1.5 years at the escape movement (Canadian clothing line) and the motto was – no matter what you’re doing for your 9-5, it’s what you’re doing from 5-9 that really feeds you. Being in that environment with some great people has changed by perspective on taking hold of what time you have and making the most of it.

So, when I think about self-care, there are thoughts and feelings about slowing down and re-evaluating what you’re doing. It can seem stressful to ‘add’ things to what feels like an already full brain, full day, full week. But lately, I have been loading it on – grad school is finally out of my system. The stress of being a student, of being tied to something other than myself. What was once not ‘my’ time – is no longer the case. My self-care has been all about getting out there and exploring again.”

“At the core of my self-care plan is my ability to say no.  I am a very committed person and this part of my self has often left me feeling used, exposed, and over-worked.  I also take dance classes, choreograph, exercise, drink coffee, read books, take baths, and enjoy nature.  I also enjoy indulging in chocolate, a glass of bourbon, and late night chats with my closest friends.”

“The main thing that I’d like to emphasize – that I’ve learned so far – is that it is a PRACTICE. Meaning I don’t know if what I’ve listed will work in a week, or even for the day. It has to always evolve and shift, just as we do every day, throughout our lives. Also, that it can be weaved into our everyday lives (i.e. I have started an initiative at work where we have a “self-care group” just for staff – time and space for us to enter into and do whatever we need to).

My self-care structure/rubric:
-Engage core/soften sacrum/ scapula soften down back – dance
-“Go spaceless” – any type of meditation or mindfulness
-“Bath & Body works” – emphasizing parts of my body that need attention (usually including mani/pedi)
“Soul Food” – any creativity time
-“Face time” – contact with loved ones”

“First, I love by the exertion/recuperation balance from LMA.  Here is my list of stuff I do:
-Mediation – I really like to focus on chakras and I also love the guided meditations on meditation oasis
-Creative endeavors like drawing and playing piano
-Relying on my partner and friends to help with my loads when they can
-Eating good food, both to be healthy and also indulging in flavor I enjoy like chocolate
-Long walks – for thought and exercise
-Badgood tv to zone out (not really care-full but damn it has to happen sometimes)
-And most importantly, my own therapy and chiropractic care regularly, as well as acupuncture and massage as time and money allow”

“Ranging from spontaneous acts to meticulously planned intentions, either unconscious, conscious and/or based in felt-sense, self-care is a constant practice that is ultimately always aimed at maintaining a sense of inner and outer balance and well-being.”

“My personal self care – meditation, personal therapy, reading a good book (when I’m so involved that forget everything in my life), massage, walking in the nature, sitting near the river, talking with a good friend, etc.”

“The other day I was going through my self-care routine…I was reading your message as I was going to my run/ walk to Lake Michigan that I used to do three times a week for ‘self-care’ until it became an activity that I ‘had’ to do. If I didn’t do it I felt terrible. I feel that way about all my self-care activities. I start doing them and then I become attached to them, and if I can’t do them for whatever reason I feel terrible.

I am starting to realize this, but I have not made the shift yet, because I still have myself stuck in my little routines that can be as bad for me as they are good.

I go to yoga, dance, gym, salsa, sign myself up for this and that  until, I realize in some way or another that I am coming close to my edge and I need to slooooowwww down.

Yep… I said it, but if I could only listen to myself—that would be awesome.

For now I still am in this routine and I call it self-care because it makes me feel good. However, now I have realized that I also need to find self-care for myself. Yeah, it sounds really crazy but I do. I have started to meditate (I don’t do it as much as I want to), but I meditate throughout the day and this helps me recuperate from all the dizzy, crazy days that I have created for myself. Meditation, I would say, is my self-care and I would like to challenge myself to start a 40 minute medication every day for 30 days. This is my goal. Meditation helps me with my senses and my awareness, it helps me clear my head, and create space to move through the day without losing concentration. It helps me be in the moment and helps me connect to myself and my breath.”

About emilyadannunzio

Board Certified-Dance/Movement Therapist. Movement Analyst (GL-CMA). Researcher. Dancer. Bartender. Detroit, MI.
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2 Responses to The many definitions of self-care, part two.

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