"Self-care" means looking after yourself. It means treating yourself as person who deserves care.
Caring for yourself is often challenging for people who experienced child abuse or childhood trauma. That’s because you were harmed by another person. Sometimes it was done on purpose. Other times it happened because that person had their own issues which stopped them caring for you.
When an adult neglects, hits, insults, abuses or ignores a child, the child comes to understanding that they aren’t worth much. Often this happens time and again. This often means that the child grows up believing that they don’t deserve to be loved or cared for – that they are unlovable or worthless. So does the adult, who that child, becomes.
Learning to care for yourself if you are survivor, means seeing yourself in a new way. It means seeing yourself as a person who deserves to feel comfortable, safe and worthwhile.
You don’t have to do anything complicated to care for yourself. It can be very simple things, every day, if you can. It’s good to try to do one or two caring things for yourself each day.
It can be a good idea to have some things for you to do in the moment (e.g. when you are faced with challenges), each day as an ongoing practise and things that will improve your wellbeing in the long term. This can become a toolkit that helps you become stronger and more able to manage life’s challenges. For example you might have a range of different in the moment strategies that help you feel settled when faced with difficult situations. On top of this you might do some things each day that help to nurture you (e.g. spending time with your pet, making time for friends whose company you enjoy, listening to some of your favourite music. Then the long term goal might be to develop a skill that is interesting to you (maybe woodwork, an art class, learning to surf etc.) or focussing on your health (e.g. learning to cook meals that nurture you, doing an activity that keeps you fit) or working on a project that builds on your future.
Strategies which help you care for yourself can stop you being overwhelmed by strong emotions. They can help ground you and help you regain control over difficult emotions, such as anger, shame or distress. They can help stop you reacting and spiralling out of control.