Cover of 'X Life Lessons to Live By' book – a collaboration between the author and Chat GPT, offering extensive self-help guidance and tools for mental well-being, specially curated for Mental Health Month, May 2023

Chapter 6: The Importance of "Self Care"

Chapter 6: The Importance of Self Care

The previous chapter on developing a positive mindset and realizing the mind-body connection within human nature touched on some ideas on how to improve what psychologists describe as "self-care." As we already know, every individual person is unique and different from one another. Each individual person has their own experiences which are completely different from anyone else on the planet. But as Hippocrates has shown us, we all share the same basic anatomy and are made up of cells, organs, tissues, bones, blood, etc. Everybody is the same and yet everyone is different. This paradox of sorts is an ethical dilemma for psychologists. One of their catch-all universal pieces of advice that works for pretty much everyone is the importance of developing good habits and self-care.

I have been lucky enough or unlucky enough to have a personal story of mental illness and mental health that is probably one for some kind of record book somewhere. It is a story that I am reluctant to ever share, even in my own book on mental health, but I will give my readers some highlights about my personal experience.

  • My mom was severely mentally ill, and there were a lot of issues I had to work through based on things that happened to me as a child.
  • I studied logic and debate in a community college in Fairfield, CA. These few years gave me a great foundation for approaching problems logically. I was pretty good at it, and this experience was a net gain for my mental health in the long run.
  • I majored in government at Sac State, which is a mentally challenging field to be in. It is a field that sometimes forgets how mentally challenging it is, even though every voter in the United States knows how unpredictable American politics is every day on the news. To the professionals in the highest levels of American politics, the business is pretty much the same as every other white-collar job in the private sector. There is some kind of invisible and blurred line between private and public constantly at work in the USA.
  • I am a very creative person and have cooked for most of my life. I also enjoy photography, run an incredibly unsuccessful online art business, and write. Creativity has been one of the things that has given me joy and happiness in life. But, like many creative people, my mental illness is about time. Creative people tend to be all over the place when it comes to time. I could sell a photograph of something I took five years ago and have it be a new thing to someone today. If they were to ask me about it as if it was a present and new thing, I would be stressed to come up with words and remember what I was doing when I took the photo. Even though I am a writer and love words, that scenario would be a challenge for me. I also have a list of creative things I want to do in the future. So, if someone were to ask me about this book four or five years from now, I would already have moved past this creative project and onto others, and have to come up with something. I think creative people and artists are almost universally mentally ill about time. But even with that mental illness, creativity has done more to improve my mental health than anything else.
  • My government experience is also a mental illness on time. I worked as an intern in the CA legislature on policy that was eventually passed. However, for about nine months, it was as if I knew what the future of CA was going to be. The policies got discussed during the legislative process, and the public was notified as is required by law. However, only a few people are nerdy enough to follow the process of a bill as the bill is being discussed. Most people only hear about the laws after they are passed and go into effect, and by that time, these bills are over and done with for the people who work in the legislature. It's as if the entire job and all the work associated with policymaking is being a psychic for the public. They are working on things that will be the future reality for the public. Even though this experience is in my past, it is also constantly the present and future. It just is what it is. The CA Delta Water policy I worked on when I was 22 in 2009 was passed, but the project has yet to see any movement. Currently, in 2023, the issue itself is in the exact same state as it was when I first began working on it 15 years ago, and no progress has been made. On this specific issue, the present state of affairs on the Delta Tunnels in 2023 is essentially the same as it was in my past 15 years ago.

The point I am trying to make by sharing these experiences is that "Mental Health" and "Mental Illness" go hand in hand. Where there is mental health going on, there is probably a mentally ill reason behind it. That mentally ill reason could be on a very high level and a very serious problem in need of immediate mental health intervention, or it could be something annoying that is a daily annoyance, like a husband leaving the seat up or the wife taking an extra half-hour to get ready to go, which makes a couple late to a party.

Chat GPT on Self Care

Self-care is essential for maintaining one's physical and mental health. It involves taking deliberate actions to promote self-wellness and prevent burnout. Self-care activities can range from simple things like getting enough sleep and staying hydrated to more complex activities like meditation, therapy, and exercise. In this response, we will discuss the importance of self-care, provide examples of individuals who have improved their lives through self-care, and offer practical advice on how to prioritize self-care in one's life.

The importance of self-care for one's physical and mental health cannot be overstated. Self-care is crucial because it helps individuals manage stress, prevent burnout, and maintain a healthy work-life balance. It can also promote physical health by encouraging individuals to engage in activities like exercise, healthy eating, and getting enough sleep. Additionally, self-care can improve mental health by providing individuals with a sense of purpose and meaning, helping them build resilience, and promoting positive thinking.

Real-life examples of individuals who have improved their lives through self-care are plentiful. For instance, a person struggling with anxiety may benefit from practicing mindfulness meditation, which can help them stay present in the moment and reduce their feelings of worry. Similarly, someone dealing with depression may benefit from taking up a new hobby, such as painting or hiking, which can help them feel more engaged and motivated. Additionally, someone experiencing chronic stress may benefit from practicing yoga, which can help them relax and release tension.

To prioritize self-care in one's life, it's important to start small and build gradually. Here are some practical tips for prioritizing self-care:

  1. Create a self-care plan: Identify the activities that make you feel good and schedule them into your day or week. This could include activities like exercise, meditation, reading, or spending time with loved ones.
  2. Practice self-compassion: Be kind and gentle with yourself. Recognize that self-care is not selfish, but rather necessary for your well-being.
  3. Make sleep a priority: Getting enough sleep is essential for good physical and mental health. Set a regular sleep schedule and stick to it.
  4. Set boundaries: Learn to say no to commitments that don't serve you, and be clear about your needs and expectations with others.
  5. Take breaks: Give yourself permission to take breaks throughout the day. This could mean taking a walk outside, stretching, or simply closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths.

In conclusion, self-care is vital for maintaining one's physical and mental health. By prioritizing self-care and making it a regular part of your routine, you can improve your well-being, reduce stress, and enhance your overall quality of life.

Self Care History in Psychology

The concept of self-care has a long history in psychology, dating back to the early 20th century. However, it has evolved and changed over time, reflecting changes in the field of psychology and broader societal trends.

One of the earliest mentions of self-care in psychology came from Carl Jung, who viewed it as an essential part of achieving psychological balance and health. He believed that individuals needed to care for themselves physically, emotionally, and spiritually to live a fulfilling life.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the self-care movement emerged as a response to the growing dissatisfaction with traditional medical practices. This movement emphasized the importance of self-care as a way to take control of one's own health and well-being. During this time, self-help books and workshops became popular, providing people with guidance on how to care for themselves.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the concept of self-care became more integrated into mainstream psychology. Psychologists began to recognize the importance of self-care for preventing burnout and promoting mental health among professionals. They also began to develop self-care strategies specific to different populations, such as caregivers, people with chronic illness, and survivors of trauma.

Today, self-care is a widely accepted concept in psychology and is seen as a crucial aspect of maintaining mental and emotional health. It encompasses a range of activities, including physical exercise, healthy eating, social support, relaxation techniques, and mindfulness practices.

Overall, the history of self-care in psychology reflects a growing recognition of the importance of taking care of oneself as a means of promoting health and well-being. As our understanding of the mind-body connection continues to evolve, self-care is likely to remain a vital component of psychological practice.

Chat GPT on Ethical Dilemmas in Psychology

Psychologists can sometimes face ethical dilemmas when balancing the principles of individual psychology with the values of reason and science. Individual psychology emphasizes the uniqueness of each person and the importance of understanding their subjective experiences, thoughts, and feelings. On the other hand, the values of reason and science prioritize objectivity, empirical evidence, and generalizable knowledge.

One of the ethical dilemmas that psychologists can face is how to balance the individual needs of their clients with the principles of evidence-based practice. Evidence-based practice is the use of research-based interventions that have been proven to be effective for specific conditions. However, some interventions may not be suitable for every individual, and psychologists may need to tailor their approach to the needs of their clients.

Another ethical dilemma is the conflict between the individual's right to privacy and confidentiality and the ethical obligation to protect others from harm. Psychologists are bound by ethical standards to maintain the confidentiality of their clients' information, except in specific situations, such as when a client poses a danger to themselves or others. In such cases, psychologists may need to breach confidentiality to prevent harm.

In addition, psychologists may face ethical dilemmas when working with diverse populations. Some psychological interventions may be culturally biased or insensitive to the experiences of people from different backgrounds. Psychologists may need to adapt their approach to be more inclusive and respectful of the cultural, social, and linguistic diversity of their clients.

Overall, psychologists must balance the principles of individual psychology with the values of reason and science while adhering to ethical standards. They must navigate ethical dilemmas and make ethical decisions that prioritize the well-being and autonomy of their clients while advancing the field of psychology.

Chat GPT on Self Care differences among different cultures

Chat GPT has already given you many ways to improve the mind body connection through self care. I will not repeat it here. But I will repeat that “Self Care” is also an “Umbrella Term” that is used to mean many different things that fall in the world of mental health. I have asked Chat GPT to describe what self care is in different countries.


In Chinese culture, self-care is often viewed as a collective responsibility, with individuals taking care of their physical and emotional health to contribute to the well-being of their family and community. Traditional Chinese medicine, which includes practices such as acupuncture, herbal remedies, and tai chi, is often used to maintain health and prevent illness. Mental health care is often stigmatized, and people may be reluctant to seek professional help.


In the United States, self-care is often marketed as a personal choice and responsibility, with individuals encouraged to prioritize their physical and emotional health through exercise, healthy eating, and stress reduction techniques such as meditation or mindfulness. Mental health care is becoming increasingly accepted, with therapy and counseling being more widely available and accepted as a form of self-care.


Self-care practices in Europe are often influenced by social welfare systems, which provide access to healthcare, education, and other public services. People may prioritize self-care practices such as taking time off work, spending time with family and friends, and engaging in hobbies or leisure activities. Mental health care is generally accepted, with many countries offering free or low-cost mental health services.


In Japanese culture, self-care practices are often focused on maintaining a sense of balance and harmony in one's life. Practices such as meditation, yoga, and martial arts are common, as well as engaging in traditional arts such as calligraphy or flower arranging. Mental health care is often stigmatized, and people may be reluctant to seek professional help.


In Indian culture, self-care practices are often rooted in the ancient tradition of Ayurveda, which emphasizes the importance of maintaining physical, mental, and spiritual health. Practices such as yoga, meditation, and herbal remedies are common, as well as eating a balanced diet and following a daily routine or "dinacharya." Mental health care is becoming increasingly accepted, with therapy and counseling being more widely available.

Middle East:

In Middle Eastern cultures, self-care practices often center around communal rituals and practices, such as attending religious services or participating in family gatherings. Practices such as aromatherapy, massage, and herbal remedies are also common, as well as engaging in leisure activities such as reading or watching television. Mental health care is often stigmatized, and people may be reluctant to seek professional help.

Latin America:

In Latin American cultures, self-care practices often emphasize the importance of maintaining strong social connections and engaging in leisure activities. Practices such as dancing, playing music, and spending time with family and friends are common, as well as engaging in spiritual practices such as prayer or meditation. Mental health care is becoming increasingly accepted, with therapy and counseling being more widely available.

Similar to Self Care but also a little different


The French expression "joie de vivre" refers to the enjoyment of life and the pursuit of happiness. While it is not specifically a philosophy on self-care, it does reflect a cultural emphasis on living life to the fullest and finding joy in the everyday.

In French culture, self-care practices often center around enjoying the pleasures of life, such as good food, wine, art, and literature. Taking time to savor a meal, enjoy a leisurely stroll, or engage in a hobby or creative pursuit are all considered important aspects of self-care. Additionally, French culture places a high value on work-life balance and taking time off to rest and recharge.

While "joie de vivre" may not be a formal philosophy on self-care, it does reflect a cultural emphasis on finding joy and pleasure in life, which can be a valuable component of self-care practices. By prioritizing activities that bring joy and happiness, individuals can improve their overall well-being and mental health.


"La Dolce Vita" is an Italian expression that translates to "the sweet life." It refers to a lifestyle that emphasizes pleasure, beauty, and enjoyment of life's simple pleasures. While it is not a formal philosophy on self-care, it does reflect a cultural emphasis on enjoying life and finding pleasure in the everyday.

In Italian culture, self-care practices often center around enjoying good food, wine, art, and music. Taking time to savor a meal, enjoy a leisurely stroll, or engage in a hobby or creative pursuit are all considered important aspects of self-care. Additionally, Italian culture places a high value on social connections and spending time with friends and family.

While "La Dolce Vita" may not be a formal philosophy on self-care, it does reflect a cultural emphasis on finding pleasure and enjoyment in life, which can be a valuable component of self-care practices. By prioritizing activities that bring joy and happiness, individuals can improve their overall well-being and mental health.

My quick take

Self-care is simply enjoying life, or what I used to hashtag on Instagram: #Happylife. It’s trying new things out, figuring out which habits benefit me, and if I try something that doesn't work out, that's okay. It’s also about learning and growing and not being judgmental towards yourself or others. Essentially, taking care of yourself is what self-care is all about.

There are common habits people have that get in the way of enjoying life and working towards your goals. Drinking heavily or on a regular basis makes people angrier, upset, and more annoyed at the slightest jabs. Even though having a drink may also be a fun time, over a long period of time, it could be detrimental to one’s enjoyment in life and have a net negative impact. Arguing on social media over opinions with people is kind of like drinking heavily: it can be addictive, and often times give us an endorphin release that feels good, but over a long run, it takes more and more outrage and negativity to get that same result, so it’s best to just avoid complaining on social media about things we have no control over. I often times fail at following my own advice on that one, but I am working on trying to improve in that area.

The television show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” is essentially a show about the importance of self-care for straight guys. Every episode from 20 years ago and in the reboot is essentially the same: a guy is featured in the show who is generally a decent guy but needs a makeover. He has no sense of style, he takes a shower but doesn’t know the difference between face wash or Dial soap, thinks lotion is for women only, may lack some emotional maturity, and may be depressed, and so on. Basically, he’s a normal American guy. The show has gay guys show up and teach him how to match a shirt and tie, explain what face wash and sunscreen are, give him tips on being more emotionally stable to help his relationship, freshen up his living area by decluttering things, and bingo bingo, at the end of the episode, he's a new man with a fresh start on life. I have only watched a handful of shows in my life, but that is generally how every episode goes.

Chat GPT Self Care advice for men

Mens Fashion:

There are several rules for timeless men's fashion that have stood the test of time:

Invest in quality basics: Timeless men's fashion relies on high-quality, well-made basics. This includes items like a tailored suit, a classic white dress shirt, a well-fitting pair of jeans, and quality leather shoes.

  1. Stick to classic colors: Classic colors like black, white, navy, gray, and beige are timeless and versatile. They can be mixed and matched to create a variety of looks and are appropriate for any occasion.
  2. Avoid trendy pieces: While it can be tempting to follow the latest fashion trends, timeless style focuses on classic, timeless pieces that will never go out of style. Avoid trendy pieces that may be popular one season but quickly go out of fashion.
  3. Pay attention to fit: The fit of your clothing is key to achieving a timeless look. Clothing should fit well and flatter your body type, without being too tight or too loose.
  4. Accessorize with quality items: Accessories can add interest and personality to your outfit, but it's important to choose quality items that will last. A classic watch, a leather belt, and a pair of sunglasses are all timeless accessories that can elevate any outfit.
  5. Take care of your clothing: Timeless fashion relies on quality, well-made pieces that can last for years. To keep your clothing looking its best, invest in proper care and maintenance, including regular dry cleaning, proper storage, and repairs as needed.

”Environmental Cues” or Decluttering

If you have read the 5 love languages you know one of them is “Acts of Service” but generally that works because women are more sensitive to their environment than men. The line between a happy wife and happy life vs a not so happy wife and not so happy life can be simply being messy and leaving clutter all over the place. Which is normal for many people but there is something to the psychology of minimalism and being organized.

Here are 5 ways to declutter your home:

  1. Start small: Decluttering can be overwhelming, so it's important to start small. Pick one area or room to focus on at a time, and break it down into smaller tasks. For example, start with one drawer or closet, and work your way up from there.
  2. Use the KonMari method: The KonMari method, developed by organization consultant Marie Kondo, encourages individuals to keep only items that "spark joy." This means that you carefully consider each item and only keep those that bring you joy or serve a practical purpose.
  3. Donate or sell items: Items that no longer bring you joy can still be valuable to others. Consider donating or selling items that are in good condition but no longer serve a purpose for you.
  4. Create a designated space for everything: One reason clutter can accumulate is because items don't have a designated space. Create a designated spot for everything, and make sure to put things back where they belong when you're done using them.
  5. Practice the one in, one out rule: To prevent clutter from building up again, practice the one in, one out rule. For every new item you bring into your home, get rid of one item that you no longer need or use.

One bonus piece I will add on is that I purchased on Amazon a shower dispenser for shampoo and things for $25. I simply glued it to the wall and it dispenses the shower gel, shampoo, and face wash. It decluttered the entire bathroom, so if you or your wife or significant other are always annoyed about the 20 different bottles in the shower then that product helps. It is totally worth the money to declutter stuff.

Self Care is not metaphorical or a myth

I have purposefully left out using a myth or fairy tale in this chapter because, even though I may not be 100% certain what "Self Care" is, in part because it is different for everyone and everyone is different, I am 100% certain that Self Care is not a myth or metaphor, but real-life habits and routines that improve people's lives and mental health.

If someone adopts a self-care routine and walks at least 10,000 steps a day and eats a healthy salad for lunch every day, it is almost a scientific impossibility that the person will not improve their numbers on their next physical and not lose weight. Making a salad is cheap and something everyone can do by going to any grocery store and looking up ideas in a cookbook. Walking around your neighborhood is free. Those are real-life behaviors that people can do that set good examples for their children or friends and improve one's body and mind. Also, taking a salad to work every day for lunch will save you money, which will improve your quality of life and retirement fund in the long run.

Just keep in mind, self-care routines are not just going for one walk and eating one salad; it's the routine of doing it every day over many months and years. Those good habits may feel like a monumental challenge to start, but eventually, they add up to massive improvements. That's not a metaphor or myth; that's real-life behavior and evidence-based science.

The only possible metaphor or myth that self-care could be is the mathematical principle of compounding interest in a hypothetical retirement account. Saving for retirement involves habitually taking money out of one's paycheck and putting it into a fund that gains interest over a number of years so the money you get later on in life is more than the money you put in over your working life. That math fact is similar to self-care; the more good habits and routines you implement into your life, the better because it has a tendency to compound over the years.

Hypothetically, if someone were to make a salad at home and take it for work at a cost of about $2 per salad, that is a better decision than buying a salad at a restaurant for lunch at $10. If someone were to take that $8 and add it to their retirement fund, that would be an extra $160 per month. Over many years, with the compound interest, that adds up to a decent trip to Europe in your retirement. It means you put in roughly $50,000 over 20 years but will get about $63,000, which is a $13,000 difference at a 4% interest rate.

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