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How can we change our lives through self-care? We start by breaking into the self-care mindset— the “secret ingredient” used by those who have radically changed their lives through self-care.

When we think about self-care, we think a lot about action. We focus on what we can do to feel better. Examples include taking a walk, doing yoga, or mindfully savoring a healthy meal.

We don’t think much about how our mindset leads to action (or inaction)—a phenomenon I’ve found to be particularly interesting considering 80% of the life-changing results we achieve through self-care are actually the result of the self-care mindset, not our self-care actions themselves.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

Joanna was feeling pretty stressed, so she took a 30-minute walk in the woods to ground herself.

Afterward, she felt better.

What probably jumps out to you first is the fact that Joanna took a walk and, maybe, the rejuvenating powers of walking?

What probably didn’t jump out at you is what prompted Joanna to go for a walk in the first place.

She could have eaten a candy bar, pushed through the stress, or snapped at the next person she saw in the name of “I’m sorry, I’m just so stressed out!”.

But, she didn’t.

So, why did she decide to walk?

Joanna decided to go for a quick walk because she has what is called, the self-care mindset—the invisible-to-the-observer “secret ingredient” behind the healthy actions we see and label as “self-care.”

It was Joanna’s possession of the self-care mindset that made all the difference in her ability to be resilient in the face of stress.

The power of the self-care mindset leads many to wonder how they too can develop one.

The Self-Care Mindset

The self-care mindset is a way of thinking that is based on self-compassion, self-love, self-kindness, realism, and practicality.

In the self-care mindset, we ask, “what can we do to feel good today?” And, we answer by focusing on realistic actions that can be practically obtained. Notice the mindsetàaction paradigm?

Going back to the Joanna example—

Joanna felt stressed, so she asked herself “what can I do to feel better?”

She answered by deciding to go for a walk, an action that was absolutely doable given her day-to-day reality.

The self-care mindset was embodied by Joanna’s asking what she needed to feel her best. It’s what led to her taking a walk—a genuine act of self-care.

(For more on the self-care mindset read this article).

Breaking into the Self-Care Mindset

Many recognize the power of the self-care mindset but get lost on how to create one for themselves.

For many of us, it’s become so common to put our needs last and just survive that we’ve forgotten how to thrive. In these cases, the self-care mindset can feel completely foreign and quite scary. In fact, it might be viewed as another New Year’s Resolution you strove to achieve but failed to accomplish. But, don’t despair! It’s extremely common to feel this way as you embark on your self-care journey.

The self-care mindset is made up of “self-care” muscles—the tiny day-to-day thoughts we have that affect how we feel and what we do. Changing those thoughts (which have often been going on for so long that they’ve become hardwired) is hard. But, it’s absolutely doable!

Breaking into the self-care mindset— a mindset you’ll want to hold for the rest of your life once you experience its power— starts by getting back in touch with who you are.

Of course, that might be easier said than done. Many of us are so disconnected from ourselves because we’re completely focused on surviving and enduring what life has thrown at us that we have a hard time naming even a few adjectives to describe who we are.

That stops now.

In order to adopt a self-care mindset and the subsequent self-care lifestyle, you’ll need to practice some extreme self-compassion and breathe life back into the real you.

To do this, you’ll need to reconnect with the person you are in your heart of hearts.

By getting back in touch with the real you, you create a slow shift in your perception of yourself and your world. This shift is the first step in adopting a self-care mindset and changing your life, for the better, forever. It’s a bit like waking up from the dead with an opportunity to live an abundant and glorious life.

Why Create a Self-Care Mindset for Yourself?

Ever see someone who just seemed to have it together? They’re content, centered, resilient, assertive when they need to be, energized, and a pleasure to be around? You know them when you see them—they glow from the inside out, “give from the excess,” and set healthy boundaries.

You’re not witnessing an anomaly.

You’re observing someone who has adopted and mastered the self-care mindset.

The self-care mindset is what drives your self-care car. It’s what gets you to take actions that inspire and nurture your soul. It’s what propels you into your version of a better life. It’s what nurtures the fire that is you.

If you’re interested in taking the first step toward creating a self-care mindset, I’ve presented an exercise that will help below.

 Exercise: Breaking Into The Self-Care Mindset

If you’re interested in taking the first step toward creating a self-care mindset, here’s an exercise that will help.

Step 1.

Option A. Set aside 30-minutes to an hour and sit quietly in a place where you’re not going to be distracted. Laying down can help. Get comfortable. Once you’re comfortable, start to get re-acquainted with the real you by allowing adjectives and/or descriptive phrases to float into your mind. As they start to bubble to the surface, you may want to jot them down. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself if you get stuck:

  • What aspects of me have I repressed because ____ (fill in the blank)?
  • What traits do I admire in others that I want to embody myself?
  • Who do I want to be more like and why?
  • What activities do I want to do more of and what do these activities represent about me?

Option B. If Option A was difficult, you may want to try the approach I used while doing this exercise. In my case, I sat down with a set of markers. Because I couldn’t yet name the attributes I felt, I used color. I selected the color I was drawn to and just drew whatever came to mind on a piece of paper. I continued to select colors and draw until I felt like I had expressed enough. Then, I started to think about why I selected the colors I did and what they represented. For example, two of the first colors I selected were bright pink and orange. I selected these because I wanted to express glamour and excitement—two aspects of myself I’d neglected for decades.

Step 2.

Once you have a list of attributes, make time to select one each day and think about how you could express it or “bring it to life.”

For example, if you wrote down “glamour,” figure out a way to bring that part of you back to life. In my case, I implemented a very quick morning ritual where I did my hair and washed my face. In my quest to just survive I had completely neglected my well-being and it was my desire to “feel nice” that needed attention. After several days of my morning beauty routine, I started to realize that glamour was the attribute that embodied my need to care more for my appearance.


  • Let the wind take you where it will take you—don’t force anything in this exercise. Instead, listen to what’s inside you and express what you hear. Let things change shape and take on a new and/or different meaning.
  • You’re exploring who you are and pouring a serious dose of self-compassion “syrup” on the long-neglected you in the process. Embrace the warm, fuzzies you’re going to feel!
  • Continue as long as you need to with this exercise—you want to go until you feel as if your authentic self has been resurrected.
  • Once you’re in touch with the real you again, then it’s time for the next step in your self-care journey and the next piece of the self-care mindset.

Author Bio:


Amanda has contributed to public health initiatives on two continents in three countries. She’s currently pursuing a nursing degree and has successfully owned and operated a freelance writing business specializing in content for healthcare organizations for three years. She and her husband and daughter live in New York. They all enjoy eating out at great restaurants. Connect with Amanda on Linkedin and start a conversation.


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