Self-Care in a Stressful World

By Haneen Mas’oud, Clinical Psychologist 

Our hectic lives necessitate that we take care of ourselves so we are better able to avoid an emotional overload and psychosomatic symptoms*.

When you hear self-care, the first things that come to mind may be massages, facials and shopping!

But self-care practices don’t have to cost money and those that integrate mind, body and soul are the most effective:

Breathing exercise: learning how to breathe properly can be very helpful (try to inhale from your nose for 4 seconds, hold it for 3 seconds, then exhale from your mouth for 4 seconds)

Lighting some candles with your favourite smell while you are listening to your favourite music

Setting boundaries; learning to say ‘no’ when you are overwhelmed with work or other people’s well-meaning demands on your time is very important for your self-care

Taking a break from technology and practicing your favourite hobbies (reading, walking, running, sewing, cooking, singing, dancing)

Try out colouring Mandala (you can find free printable colouring pages online)

Treating yourself as you would treat a friend; talk to yourself with encouraging words and learn to love yourself

Writing in your journal; expressing your thoughts and emotions regularly allows you to self-reflect and reduces stress

Adopting a healthy lifestyle: a balanced diet, exercise, drinking water and sleeping well

Looking after your relationships: the more you nurture your social relationships, the more you will receive support and have people to count on

Doing new things, such as volunteering (see page 30 for inspiration)

Making a homemade face mask: it can be as simple as mashing one-half of a banana, mixing in a tablespoon of orange juice and a tablespoon of honey!

Waking up with encouraging statements to start the day

Writing three things you love about yourself and three things that you are thankful and grateful for

Partaking in religious and spiritual practices and believing in a higher power is very important; go to mosque or church, pray, fast, help the less fortunate

Above all, finding meaning to whatever you do – those who find meaning in their lives suffer less and thrive more

So whenever you feel stressed and need to smoke, drive recklessly or burst at someone, try one of the ideas mentioned above and start including them when you are not stressed as well!

If it feels difficult on your own, then seek professional help to support you or your loved ones.

Stress management vs self-care

Stress management: Trying to manage and reduce stress with coping strategies that could be positive (breathing exercise, walking, etc…) or negative (smoking, drinking alcohol, driving recklessly…)

Self-care: Taking care of yourself on a regular basis, even when you are not facing any stressors, helps you maintain and enhance your mental health

You can contact Mas’oud at

*Psychosomatic symptoms are physical reactions that result from stress, including chest pain, fatigue, dizziness, headache, back pain, shortness of breath, insomnia, abdominal pain, numbness, impotence, weight loss and constipation