25 PCOS self-care ideas

Self-care has been a bit of a buzzword lately and it is becoming more popular in the world of PCOS. But what does it mean? And what is PCOS self-care? In this article, we dig into self-care for PCOS and discuss how it may be one of the most underrated ways to manage symptoms, plus give you 25 PCOS self-care ideas.

What is PCOS?

Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) is a common endocrine (hormonal) condition affecting approximately 1 in 10 people assigned female at birth. It is a syndrome which means it is a collection of symptoms. Symptoms of PCOS include irregular periods, oily skin, acne, hair loss on the head, hirsutism, trouble conceiving and more.

PCOS doesn’t have a cure. But its symptoms and one’s quality of life can be improved through medication, supplementation and/or lifestyle management.

What is self-care?

Self-care is a holistic process to foster mindfulness, presence, wellness, engagement and self-respect. It is not one skill but instead a toolkit of ways to respect ourselves. This may include basic hygiene rituals, seeking therapy or counselling, having a supportive family and friend network, allowing yourself time to relax, having boundaries around work and more.

Self-care is the process of attending to your physical and emotional needs, including adjusting the environment, your relationships and your daily routine to serve you.

How are PCOS and self-care linked?

People with PCOS tend to have higher levels of stress, reduced quality of life and poorer body image. This is likely because of a dysregulation of the HPA (hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal) axis often seen in people with PCOS, as well as symptoms like hirsutism, acne, oily skin and alopecia contributing to poorer confidence.

Increasing stress levels increase the release of cortisol in the body. Cortisol is the most common stress hormone which may impact insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is both a symptom and driver of PCOS. Therefore, reducing stress may positively impact symptoms of PCOS and engaging in self-care activities has been seen in the research to reduce stress.

Engaging in self-care activities may help with body acceptance and neutrality and improve body image. Working with a certified mental health professional is advised if you are struggling with your body image concerns.

25 PCOS self-care ideas

If you are financially, emotionally and physically able to, reducing stress by addressing the following areas may improve your introspective awareness, allow you to trust your body and help you eat intuitively. Plus, managing your stress can help with PCOS symptom management too.

infographic with 6 PCOS self-care ideas

Physical self-care

  • Ensuring you get enough quality sleep
  • Getting regular medical and dental check-ups
  • Allowing yourself to take time off work and school when you’re sick
  • Wearing comfortable clothes you feel good in
  • Engaging in activities you enjoy

Emotional self-care

  • Making time for self-reflection
  • Being aware of your thoughts and emotions without judgement
  • Identifying comforting activities and places
  • Making time to relax
  • Making time to have fun
  • Having hobbies and interests outside of work
  • Having compassion for yourself and others
  • Seeking help and support when needed

Relationships for self-care

  • Spending time with people who you enjoy and who support you
  • Having someone in your life who listens to you
  • Staying in contact with important people in your life

Spiritual self-care

  • Spending time outdoors
  • Being aware of the non-material aspects of life
  • Having a mediation practice
  • Engaging with religion or higher powers

Boundaries for self-care

  • Maintaining a manageable schedule at work or school
  • Taking breaks from social media
  • Taking breaks from electronic devices
  • Saying no to projects, work or events when necessary
  • Speaking up when people attempt to cross your boundaries

Key takeaways: PCOS self-care

You don’t have to do all of these practices to develop interoceptive awareness, reduce your stress and develop intuition with food. But identifying practices that resonate with you and trying time to develop a positive self-care routine may help with stress management and improve symptoms of PCOS.

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Alex Okell ANutr Founder and Editor

Founder and Editor | Registered Associate Nutritionist

  Founder of Be The Collective LTD [The PCOS Collective & The Endo Collective] Alex Okell ANutr is a London-based reproductive health nutritionist with experience in research, private practice and digital media. She holds a Master’s degree in Nutrition from King’s College London and has co-authored papers with the University of Cambridge, King’s College London, The Food Foundation and the Food Standards Agency. Alex offers 1:1 PCOS support in our virtual PCOS clinic.

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