Patient Blogs | Ankylosing Spondylitis
What Does Self-care Mean to Me?
photo of hiker in the mountains

Self-care can mean different things to different people. When I Googled “self-care,” here is what I got: “The practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.” I think that’s a pretty good definition. Here, I’ll tell you what self-care means to me.

To me, self-care means managing the stress. The problem is that we are bombarded with stress all day. Recognizing the source of the stress helps me deal with it better. It is important to recognize the reason for the stress before it gets too big to control.

Not all stress is created equally. If you are stressed because you didn’t sleep well the night before, you will deal with that differently than you would if you were stressed because of hunger. Different situations will call for different self-care solutions. The important thing is to be honest with yourself about how well you handle different kinds of stress.

Now when the stress of the day just gets to me, I might just need a break. Whether that be work-related, AS-related, or one of the many other things that can pop up, I may go sit outside and enjoy the outdoors. I have a small garden I tend to that helps me de-stress. Sometimes a simple phone call to a friend helps.

There are other times when I just turn on the TV to something that makes me laugh. I call this my mindless TV time. I don’t want to watch something that makes me think. I just want to laugh. If you can’t watch TV during the day, you could listen to a podcast that you like. I always feel better after I’ve been laughing.

A good start is set aside some time for yourself every day. I try to give myself 10- to 15-minute breaks a few times a day. Even 5 minutes can help if it’s a busy day. This helps me relieve some of the stress before it builds up.

Just remember that you are important, too. Find some things that make you happy, and do those. It doesn’t matter if no one else likes it. This is for you. Investing in your self-care will always pay off.

Don’t be scared to seek out professional help. Your well-being and happiness shouldn’t have to suffer because of stress.




Photo Credit: sankai / E+ via Getty Images

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Daniel Garcia

Daniel Garcia

Diagnosed since 2003

Daniel Garcia was diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis in 2003. He enjoys gardening and traveling in his pop-up camper with his wife, Melissa, and dogs Chloe and Tilly on his good days. Garcia writes about travel on and gardening, technology, and DIY on You can connect with Daniel via his Instagram account.

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