​​What is Radical Self-Care?

Nov 1, 2021 5:30:00 AM

Written By:
DaVinci Healthcare Expert

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We’ve all heard the term “self-care” in the context of a “treat yourself” mentality, or even as a suggestion to self-indulge. But self-care isn’t just about breaking diets on the tough days. Taking time to nourish your mind and body has the potential to make a lasting impact on your day-to-day life. Focusing on your physical health and prioritizing your mental health allows you to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself.

Radical self-care takes this one step further. It’s the assertion that your first priority should always be to take care of yourself before taking care of others. This gives you the capacity to heal and grow, so that you are then better suited to care for others.1 As authors Donna J. Nicol and Jennifer A. Yee explain in Reclaiming Our Time, “Radical self-care was and is an imperative practice to resist pressures to comply, conform, and above all, to remain true to our authentic selves.

Radical self-care involves embracing practices that keep us physically and psychologically healthy and fit, making time to reflect on what matters to us, challenging ourselves to grow, and checking ourselves to ensure that what we are doing aligns with what matters to us.” 

How to Practice Radical Self-Care

An essential tool for radical self-care is curating a practice in response to your present needs. There are steps you can take to cope and care for your social, physical, essential, and creative selves, in turn prioritizing the current demands of your mind and body.3

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For Your Coping Self

Practice radical self-care for your coping self by building strong and accessible coping skills. Find time for stress management activities, like taking a relaxing bath or completing a quick workout. Pay attention to times when you compare yourself to others and question this type of thinking. Above all else, try to respond to situations beyond your control with emotional intelligence. Practicing these coping strategies may help you feel calm in high-pressure situations, bringing clarity to stressful circumstances.

For Your Social Self

Even if you are more introverted, your social self still needs to be cared for. Humans are social creatures and many of us crave a sense of belonging within a group or community. Exercise radical self-care for your social self by removing people from your life who no longer serve you. Whether it’s a friend who is always looking for advice but is never interested in helping you, or a coworker who relies heavily on you for cover at work, there may be someone in your life who drains your energy and diminishes your self-worth. Set boundaries so that you have energy for the relationships you wish to nurture, and make sure you feel like an equal partner in all of your relationships.


For Your Physical Self

Though self-care routines are often focused around mental health, your physical health is just as essential. Make time for regular movement—something as simple as a walk around the block can give you new energy and clarity. Even small bursts of movement can release endorphins in your brain, helping to minimize feelings of depression and anxiety. Though you may experience days filled to the brim with responsibilities and stress, try to find at least 15 short minutes a day to show some love to your physical self. 

For Your Essential Self

Caring for your essential self is crucial to finding internal balance, and it is often overlooked when practicing self-care. Your essential self reflects your cultural identity and spirituality, connecting you to something beyond your singular identity. When your essential self isn’t cared for, you may start to feel disconnected from the world. Prioritize self-reflection through a non-judgmental lens, allowing yourself the room to make mistakes and grow from them. Find ways to honor your cultural and spiritual identities to help you feel confidently grounded to your place in the world.

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For Your Creative Self

Radical self-care for your creative self runs deeper than simply finding time for your hobbies, though this is an important part of caring for your mental wellbeing. By actively deciding exactly how you want to spend your energy, time, and money, you can place yourself in the present, avoiding that dreaded feeling of going through the motions. Try to find work that excites and challenges you and, most importantly, check in with your emotions throughout the day, especially during times of stress or hardship. Give yourself the space to feel what you need to feel. 

Final Thoughts

Practicing radical self-care requires building habits with time and consistency. It can be daunting at first, so start by focusing on making time each day to self-reflect, consider which parts of yourself need special attention, and tend to your mental and physical health. 

Remember, you don’t need to set yourself on fire to keep others warm. You must care for yourself above all else before you can properly and fully care for others. These practices allow you to prioritize your mental wellbeing and your physical health, which will play an essential role in becoming the best version of yourself. 


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[1] “Radical Self-Care.” Indiana State University, 1 Dec. 2020.

[2] Nicol, Donna J., and Jennifer A. Yee. “‘Reclaiming Our Time’: Women of Color Faculty and Radical Self-Care in the Academy.” Feminist Teacher, vol. 27, no. 2-3, 2017, p. 134.

[3] Degges-White, Suzanne. “Radical Self-Care to Protect Your Overall Well-Being.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 30 Oct. 2020.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.