Self-care is a way of standing up for yourself and setting boundaries. Here's how.

Did you know that self-care wasn’t popular until the rise of the women’s movement and The Civil Rights Movement? Particularly, women and people of color began to view Civil Rights as a means of controlling their health in the midst of feeling like the medical system was discriminatory and unable to properly tend to their needs (Petrzela, 2023). 

Self-care was a claiming autonomy over the body as a political act against institutional, technocratic, and biased medicine, said Natalia Mehlman Petrzela, an assistant professor at the New School.


People wanted to dismantle hierarchies by placing value on themselves through self-care, no matter their gender, financial status, or race. Rather than relying on the medical system, people began to assume the responsibility of leading a healthy life. Well, how do you go about taking control of your health through self-care? Here are 3 ways to start.

Place less emphasis on people-pleasing

What is people pleasing? According to Medical News Today, people pleasing indicates the act of making the lives of others more convenient even at one’s own expense. It also signifies the devaluation of one's own needs, mental, and physical health. People pleasing does not require individuals to ask, “What about me?” 

People pleasing can cause us toexperience anxiety about disappointing others, exhaustion, and difficulty around setting healthy boundaries. It can also make it difficult to understand what brings us joy outside of being useful. Moreover, it can blur our identities apart from being of service (James Madison University 2023). 

Anxiety and stress cause a cortisol response which can lead to inflammation, fatigue, poor digestive health, lowered immune functions, and migraines which are also inflammatory. Migraines are whenblood vessels in your forehead begin to swell, causing nerve fibers to release a chemical that leads to pain and inflammation. As this happens, the blood vessels enlarge even more and make the pain much worse”(Flip spinal care, 2023).

When you're balancing too many things at once for the sake of even one person, this can definitely occur. Of course, we live in society. So, in some settings, especially professional ones, there is a certain amount of people pleasing that might be taken on. However, we shouldn't have to tread outside what is healthy. And that’s why it’s important to set boundaries.

Setting Boundaries

If someone is suddenly pilling too much stuff on you at once, you should be able to say, “Can I prioritize this for a near but later date?”  If someone tells you to jump (and they shouldn't), you shouldn’t feel like you need to ask, “How high?” Any healthy situation will take into account your situation. You should be able to let people know what does and doesn’t work for you. That is a primary way to set boundaries. 

You’ll know when your boundaries are being compromised because you might start to rationalize the situation. Or maybe, you’ll just feel immediately tired. So, setting boundaries is not only a way of standing up for yourself, it’s a way of preserving your physical health and vitality. It's telling people what does and doesn't work for you.

Understand that we’re all humans with equal value.

Photocred: AdobeStock

If someone is trying to make you do something that stresses you out, makes you feel less than, or overwhelmed, ask yourself, “What makes that person more important?” We are all valuable, and we all deserve to be seen. Reconciling that you are worthy and important is a wonderful first step to understanding why you should take time for self-care and limit things that hinder it. So, self-care is about more than an annual medical exam, or simply “doing what you’re supposed to do to be healthy. It’s about being eager and willing to respect your own individuality, needs, space, and wants.

Coverphoto cred: Centerstone