A Research Paper created by Andrea Winzer
(Life Transformation Coach, UNITED STATES)
Purpose of the Research Paper
The purpose of this research paper is to explore the role and importance of self care and how coaching can facilitate raising awareness, creating supportive structures, as well as implementing effective self-care strategies as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle.
2.1. What is Self Care
In 1998, a special working group of the World Health Organization (WHO) offered an inclusive definition of Self Care: “Self Care in health refers to the activities individuals, families and communities undertake with the intention of enhancing health, preventing disease, limiting illness, and restoring health. These activities are derived from knowledge and skills from the pool of both professional and lay experience. They are undertaken by lay people on their own behalf, either separately or in participative collaboration with professionals.” 
In essence, self care involves being aware of one’s very own, unique physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological, financial, professional and/or recreational needs, i.e. knowing what contributes to a healthy, balanced, peaceful, and joyful sense of well-being, and consistently taking the necessary steps to implement appropriate actions in daily life. Taking effective care of oneself is a commitment that needs to be maintained on a continuous basis and involves three different levels of engagement: Understanding/Awareness, Learning/Creation of Structures, and Practice/Accountability.
2.2. The Importance of Self-Care
Norcross & Guy (2007) clearly indicate the central importance of the commitment to self care by stating “Self-care is not a narcissistic luxury to be fulfilled as time permits; it is a human requisite, a clinical necessity, and an ethical imperative.”According to Corey, Schneider Corey, and Callanan (2011), “Self care is not an indulgence. It is necessary to prevent distress, burnout, impairment, and to maintain a level of psychological and physical wellness.”
Self Care is deeply connected with the acceptance and love for oneself as well as with the reverence for one’s very unique skills, talents, character traits, and body features. Loving and honestly caring for oneself lays the groundwork for a happy, balanced, and joyful life. Being deeply connected with one’s own needs and wants and setting the appropriate actions to fulfill and integrate them into daily life, opens the door to creativity, success, passionate living, and fulfilling one’s unique purpose in this world.
2.3. Lack of Self-Care and Consequences
Lack of self care always has serious consequences on many different levels and impacts a person’s physical and emotional well-being. Numerous studies have shown that individuals, who fail to exercise regularly, eat right, get sufficient sleep and find satisfaction in their work and personal lives experience higher levels of depression, anxiety, and illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, or other chronic diseases. Another common consequence of neglecting one’s own self care, especially when working in a helping profession or being a caretaker, is a syndrome called Compassion Fatigue  , a form of burnout that manifests itself as physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion.
 Norcross, J.C., & Guy, J.D. (2007) Leaving it at the office: A guide to psychotherapist self care. New York: Guilford Press
 Corey, G., Schneider Corey, M. & Callanan, P. (2011) Issues and Ethics in the Helping Professions (8th edition). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole, Cengage Learning
When focusing on the needs of others more than on oneself, destructive behaviors that are associated with the secondary traumatic stress disorder, including apathy, isolation, explosive expression of bottled up emotions, substance abuse, or obsessive behaviors such as overeating, overspending or gambling, can surface.
These symptoms can lead into a downward spiral and take a tremendous toll on the overall well-being of the individual, which in turn decreases the ability to take care of oneself and others or find fulfillment in one’s professional or personal life.
2.4. Common Misconceptions around Self Care
The concept of self care is fraught with misconceptions and misinformation and is often connected with feelings of selfishness, narcissism, guilt, and shame. Most people are taught from a very early age on to take care of everybody else except themselves, to be “a good girl/boy” and to put their own needs, dreams, and wishes on the bottom of the list. The consequences of this self-neglecting behavior affect not only the well-being of the single individual, but also impact the functionality and health of relationships, families, communities, and essentially the whole society.
Being asked what they do for “self care”, most people think of pampering or indulging themselves by getting a pedicure, a massage or going to a fancy restaurant and they often feel guilty about it. Although these activities are definitely valuable and can support a healthy lifestyle, true self care is the continuous maintenance of one’s physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental health.