Various people keep telling me to try self-care? What exactly is it? I assume it goes beyond bathing and eating...someone suggested a pedicure, which doesn't appeal, someone else a night on the town which doesn't really fit in. Do people here even bother with self-care, if so what do you do?

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It means making time for your needs and desires instead of leaving them at the end of the list. So schedule in time daily, weekly, monthly to do the things that you enjoy - if not a pedicure then maybe a movie, or lunch with friends, or hanging out at the mall, whatever hobbies and activities you used to have time for but don't make a priority any longer. Maybe get together with your friends once a month, or more often. Stay involved with your faith community if you have one. Join a support group. Keep up with your dental and doctor check ups, and make time every day for some fresh air and exercise , even a walk around the block can really help with stress.
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I hear you meallen. I think it does feel foreign to caregivers to think about what to do for oneself. Our minds are always occupied and we just feel like self care is another thing on the to do list. It does take some practice. 5 minutes and it doesn't have to cost a thing. I am learning to just sit in my chair and doing some deep breathing in and out. And like you, being on this site is a bit of a break. It centers me to know that I am not alone in my thoughts and feelings.
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I think self-care is doing something that helps recharge your battery, replenish some of the energy we are drained of, and helps keep us going on this long journey of caregiving. For me, when I close my eyes to sleep I try to stop thinking about all the "to do's" that await me in the morning that stress me out and instead picture myself somewhere quiet and serene. Other times when running errands I get coffee and a magazine and sit in a coffee shop browsing it for a while. Caregiving really is a lot of giving our time, energy, thought and effort so whatever we can do restore ourselves will help give us strength to continue on this path.
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For me, it's was creating a little haven inside my own home. My hubby and I are having some marital problems, and I just couldn't bring myself to crawl into a bed with a man I am considering leaving---plus I have an elderly mother who requires a measure of my care (she doesn't live here) AND I have 14 grandkids with whom I spend as much time as possible.

This bedroom is my quiet little place of solitude. I read, sleep, meditate, pray...just decompress. It has saved my life.

It didn't cost me a dime.

My exercise and sitting out in the sun cost me nothing, either.

I also go to movies alone. Go to the Dollar showing of whatever DH doesn't want to see. Few friends, but that's OK.

The only real expense I have is my therapist. She's 100% worth it.
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I was lucky, when mom lived with me we got two days of homecare a week so I was able to get completely away. Mom also slept after breakfast so I used that time to get out of the house for some exercise, I actually went from couch potato to able to run a 5K, but it took me a few years. Self care is so important if we don't want to burn out, we are often reminded that we need to put on our own oxygen mask before we can help anyone else, sadly my days away and exercise were still not enough and I went down in flames earlier this year :(
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mhahaha Seriously, I am thankful for your response--but except for getting on here (and it's not time I could spend on anything else) I don't think I can do much in that line. I do remember my drops for glaucoma and get to the dentist, etc. But time and's always time and money for all us here, isn't it?
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My goodness, yes, bother with it! Self care is essential and, as others have pointed out, need not cost much if anything, nor take much time. Practice doing little things that build you up that are just for you! Light a scented candle, listen to your favourite music, have a special cup of coffee, tea or cocoa. I walk early in the mornings (around the house because of the weather), and add in a few exercises. Don't put it off. I am 80 now and my mother is 105. She is in an NH, but there still is work dealing with business and stuff that happens. If I put off caring for myself till this is over, I may never do it. Remember that 40% of caregivers die before the one they care for. Caregiving is very stressful!
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I was told "self-care" is remembering to take care of you - it doesn't necessarily mean a pedicure, a movie - - it starts with trying to eat right and remembering vitamins, etc.

For many it is a little quiet time. For a few, it's the freedom to go outside and scream at the top of your lungs. A cup of coffee at the right time is "self-care."

And yes, sometimes it's a cookie. Or a bowl of ice cream. It's just something you can do for yourself that will give you some mental relief.
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Caring for my in-laws, six kids (ages 9 - 19). Here's my version of self-care.

How do I love ME? Let me count the ways ...

* I always get a Sunday paper. I take the puzzle page and toss the rest. It gets folded just-so and stays with a pencil on a clipboard by my bathtub where ...
* I take a long hot bath every night. Usually with bubbles. My husband brings me ice water. I text him for refills. No little people allowed near the door. The dog sleeps on my towel beside the tub. I work on the Sunday puzzles.
* Pedicures. Regularly. I stop at the store for another crossword and a fountain Coke, and I don't leave the massage chair while I dry (unless they are busy).
* Massages. Regularly. I have a standing appt. She gives me hugs and tells me to breathe deeply and relax. I try not to snore.
* On the way home from the massage, I stop at the taco truck. Because TACOS!!
* I buy myself flowers at the grocery store. Regularly.
* I hired TWO drivers for my MIL. Because MILs aren't always nice, and I don't need the extra crazy.
* I keep a bag of 'the good ice' from the ice house in the freezer. It's mine. I will share, but you may not take.
* ^^^ Same with my chocolate/cookie stash.
* I hired a housekeeper. She comes every week. It is heavenly.
* I take walks with my loyal pup around a local lake.
* I play happy music while I'm working around the house.
* I listen to interesting podcasts.
* I tutor. Regularly. I love the interaction with big people (high schoolers). It gives me a chance to use my BRAIN. And it pays for all the ME LOVE listed above. 😜
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Sit. Relax your body.
Imagine something beautiful and calming to you.
30 seconds: read one paragraph from a book, a passage from a Bible or some Buddhist wisdom. Direct your mind for the day by reading something inspiring.

I make a very healthy bullet drink. Let me know if you want the list of ingredients.
I jog (at age 66), although slow going + stretch.
I learned 50 years ago people make or find time when people want to for whatever is important to us.
We are making choices each moment every day - 1,000s of them.
It 'helps' when we consider that we can give to others (energy, focus) when we give that to our self, first. We cannot run on empty; that does not serve anyone for the longer haul.
Re-newing our self IS caregiving to another.
"Mostly" women have been conditioned/taught to put others' needs before our own, to the point, we do not know what our needs are (self-care). Somehow, it is a gift to end up caregiving 'somehow' to learn how to care for our self, first.
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