By Darian Towner, Prevention Specialist, CPN House of Hope

September is Self-Care Awareness Month. A majority of individuals would likely agree that they take care of themselves daily. The basics are covered, at least: we wake up, go through our morning hygiene routine and attempt to grab some combination of food and caffeine. Later, we grab more food, and then we end our day by giving our body some much-needed rest with a night’s sleep. So, yes, we take care of ourselves. But are we really practicing self-care?

The English Oxford Dictionary defines self-care as “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”

By this definition, we must ask ourselves if we are actually taking an active role in protecting our well-being and happiness. Taking an active role indicates a specific and ongoing time where we don’t place ourselves on the back burner, but instead consciously decide to pause and de-stress from the craziness of our packed schedules.

The unfortunate thing about stress is that it finds a way to come out, one way or another. If we are not allowing ourselves time in our daily schedules to release that pent up stress, then our bodies will find a way to release it. The physical effects could show themselves through headaches, increased heart rates, troubled breathing or stomach ulcers, among a plethora of other symptoms, according to the American Psychological Association Help Center.

Knowing this, how can we practically implement self-care into our lives? The answer is quite simple: find hobbies that make you happy, things that fill your cup each day and activities that you just cannot wait to do! After you’ve chosen your self-care method, then make it a habit. Commit to doing that activity each day for 30 days, and see if you notice a difference in your overall happiness and stress level by the end of the month.

Starting self-care can prove to be difficult, so we thought we would provide you with a list of some of the self-care habits our staff has committed to: reading, quality time with friends and family, beading, walking or exercising, time with pets, dancing at powwows, time at the lake with loved ones, getting a massage or pedicure, watching a favorite movie, and focused breathing and stretching. If none of these piqued your interest, that’s okay as long as you choose your own habit and commit to having it each day on your calendar.

The National Association of Mental Illness describes self-care wonderfully: “To be able to care for the people you love, you must first take care of yourself. It’s like the advice we’re given on airplanes: put on your oxygen mask before trying to help someone else with theirs.”

Prioritizing yourself may feel foreign at first, but the results can powerfully shape your future.

At House of Hope, we are constantly encouraging both our staff as well as our clients to develop and maintain healthy self-care habits, and we hope that you will choose to join us in doing the same. If you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence, sexual assault, or stalking and would like more information, please contact House of Hope at our 24/7 crisis line at (405) 878-4673, or visit us online at