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What is Self-Care and Stress Management?

Self-care is intentionally taking time to engage in activities that promote physical and emotional health. It is key to help manage life's stressors and is crucial in maintaining overall health.  Stress management encompasses various techniques and strategies to control an individual's stress levels.  

What is Stress?

Stress is a normal biological response to a perceived threat or challenge.  Much like self-care, what we find stressful is specific to the individual.  When you encounter stress, your brain floods your body with chemicals and hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol (healthline).  Physically your body may react, i.e. your heart starts to race or you begin to sweat.  Your mind sharpens and focuses on how to solve the situation at hand.  Stress should be short-lived and shortly afterwards your body will return to the natural state without any lasting negative consequences.  


Stress can be acute, severe acute, episodic acute, or chronic. 


Acute stressors are often a sudden rush of stress, i.e. a near-miss accident or the thrill of a rollercoaster.  Once the stressor has passed, your body will return to its natural state.  This type of stress normally does not harm the individual.  And often help your brain and your body develop ways to best respond to future stressful situations. 

Severe acute stress is when you are faced with a light-threatening situation.  This can lead to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder PTSD (healthline) or other mental health problems. 

Episodic acute stress is the frequent reoccurrence of acute stressors. First responders for example may frequently find themselves in high-stress situations while on the job.  This can have negative affects on the individual physically and mentally.

Chronic stress is prolonged and constant feeling of stress.  It can be caused by everyday pressures, i.e. a high pressure work environment or by traumatic situations, i.e. work place accidents on the jobsite.  Because the stressors do not subside, the body is not allowed to relax and return to its natural state.  Chronic stress has been known to contribute to physical aliments such as aches/pains, difficulty sleeping, and gastrointestinal problems.  Chronic stress can have an emotional and psychological toll making individuals irritable, anxious and depressed (verywellminded).  

Stress unmanaged can take a toll on an individual's ability to function in their day to day lives.  It is important to establish a self-care routine to help combat stress and build resilience. 

Why is Self-Care Important?

Regular, routine self-care can have a great impact on your mental and physical health.  Stress is a part of life and taking time for self-care activities is maintenance for your body and mind that can help you combat the negative effects on your mental and physical well-being.  Having one preestablished is also helpful when you are stressed, not focused or motivated. 

What is a Self-Care Plan?

A self-care plan is a personalized, intentional approach to managing your wellbeing and is a commitment to treating yourself with kindness and compassion. But it can be flexible and evolve with your needs. It involves identifying what you need to thrive—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—and outlining a series of actions or routines that help you meet those needs (CALM)


Some examples of self-care activities to include in a plan are:

  • Getting Enough Sleep ​

  • Proper Diet/Nutrition & Hydration

  • Exercise i.e. Hiking, Walking your Dog, Swimming, Yoga

  • Talking to a Friend

  • Setting Boundaries 

  • Being Creative

  • Meditation/Prayer

  • Money Management/Handling Finances

Resources & Services


Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) through County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services, Family Affairs

Website :

Phone: 408-792-2166



WRAP is an evidence-based practice, developed by peers, that guides people through the process of discovering their own personal resources and then using those resources to get well, stay well and effectively deal with life challenges, improving health and quality of life over time.  WRAP believes one (you) know the best about oneself (yourself), so it is a tool to guide participants to recreate their own self-care plan for them to list all the things they do, and all the things they have done or think they might like to do or try, to help themselves feel better, get well and stay well.

What to Expect

The County of Santa Clara Behavioral Health Services, Family Affairs Department offers WRAP support groups.  You can reach out to them via phone or email to request information about a group starting.  Options are available online or in person.  It is peer support based training.  The group will meet in several sessions (either in 12 one hour sessions or 6 two hour sessions).  If you are looking to do this for your group or organization, the County is flexible in how the 12 hours of training are divided.  Each session working on a topic(s) culminating in an individualized action plan. 

The curriculum is based on the following:

  • 5 Key Concepts of Recovery

    • Hope

    • Personal Responsibility

    • Education

    • Self-advocacy

    • Support

  • Wellness Toolbox

  • Daily Maintenance Plan

    • What I’m Like When I’m Well

    • Things I Need to Do Every Day to Stay Well

    • Things I Might Need to Do Today

  • Stressors/Triggers

    • `Stressors/Triggers Action Plan

  • Early Warning Sings

    • Early Warning Signs Action Plan

  • When Things are Breaking Down

    • ​When Things Are Breaking Down Action Plan

  • Crisis Plan

  • Post Crisis Plan

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