L&D Specialist and Holistic Coach Ali Hendry explores a topic that gets a bad reputation. 


Self-care, what does this actually mean?


Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

A quick search on Google generates over 22 million results for self-care. Essentially it is any activity that can improve your mental health, it is personal to you and doesn’t need to cost a thing.

I thought I was doing pretty well with my Covid-Friendly self-care list: regular walks in nature, purchase of a milk frother, downloading a yoga app and signing up to Spotify. All things I meant to do, but hadn’t assigned Purpose to them, so I placed them in the “luxury items” pile. Yet now, each of them give me more return on improved mental health than I imagined. Who doesn’t like going for a seafront yomp, accessorised with a home-made “proper coffee” while listening to Billie Eilish?


But is this enough?

I recently did a coaching exercise where you choose someone in your life and imagine a week in their world. I chose my 9-year old daughter and found a deeper level of empathy for the challenges she is currently experiencing. Then, they “spend” a week in your world. Afterwards, you identify the parts you didn’t want them to see. The main thing I didn’t want my daughter to see was the absence of mango in the fridge.

Photo by Jacqueline Brandwayn on Unsplash


I am a co-parent, and every week when she is with me I buy her favourite fruit. I also love mango, I would eat it every day if I could afford it. So the days she doesn’t polish it off, I enjoy putting it in my salads, currys and soups. But it’s one of the pricey fruits isn’t it, so I don’t buy it for myself.

Wait! Stop the clocks! What exactly prevents ME from buying it for ME? A quick exploration via another coaching exercise around limiting beliefs, and things start to come up associated with income and self-worth. It’s an old chestnut, and which I clearly haven’t explored enough.


Then, I move on to the closed questions, to dig down further:

Here and now, can I afford to buy mango for myself? YES

Have I ever been in a situation where I couldn’t afford mango? NO


It’s a bit like my bright pink Moleskine diary. A diary is a diary is a diary, right? Every year I would purchase one from WH Smith. It served me well, it was functional, if unbeautiful. When I went freelance and installed a career coach to help me with the transition, we explored income and self-worth. Every day, at least once, I look at my diary. So why not choose one that gives me aesthetic pleasure? BECAUSE IT IS A WASTE OF MONEY, ALI!

Back to the digging questions I go…

Here and now, can you afford to buy a more expensive diary? YES

Have you ever been in a situation where you couldn’t afford a more expensive diary? YES!! Hmm, although actually I could have compromised on something else and bought one.

I try and recognise and feel grateful for the luxuries in my life. I make financial choices that others simply do not have access to. And I also know which monetary behaviours influence me; a hangover from having parents whose early childhood was restricted by war rationing. Such as, I will never throw away shampoo until water has been added and added to the final dregs, until literally I am attempting to wash my hair with tap water. And that’s ok. There may not be a war on, but I can still work on living sustainably.

So, Self-care = find your joy. This is your shot at life so make it a good one. And buy the mango.


Simple (free) things you can do to improve mental wellbeing: 

  1. Download DownDog free yoga app. A great range of exercises for all levels and abilities including chair yoga and meditations.
  2. Go for a walk, once a week, by yourself, for yourself. Take the luxury of space and time in nature.
  3. Do a Gratitude List for a month. First thing in the morning whizz off a list of ten things you are grateful for, just go with what comes into your mind without censoring yourself, it can be as trivial or meaningful as you want.
  4. Make a weekly phone date with a friend, same time, same place, and see how strengthening your support tribe improves your and their sense of wellbeing.
  5. Do some journaling, either free-writing or focus on a part of your life you want to look at further.
  6. Have a long bath. With candles. And music. And a good book. Maybe some mango chunks.