Self-Care Matters

Welcome to Self-Care Matters, a Palliative Care Australia resource, which aims to support you - whatever your role in palliative care - to prevent burnout and build resilience.

Planning and practising effective self-care strategies can sustain your capacity to flourish and support others, both personally and professionally, especially when faced with suffering or providing compassionate care for those struggling with the realities of living with dying.

The expectation that we can be immersed in suffering and loss daily, and not be touched by it,
is as unrealistic as expecting to be able to walk through water without getting wet.

Dr Rachel Naomi Remen, Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal

We spoke with palliative care experts around Australia—both clinical and non-clinical—to learn from their experiences and insights. In Self-Care Matters, they share their views on the importance of talking about understanding self-care, planning for self-care and practising self-care.

Watch this video to learn more about their key messages for self-care.

You are encouraged to use these resources for your personal self-care. Before you do, please note that the Self-Care Matters resource is intended to support your self-care practice and is not intended to replace treatment of any medical conditions or otherwise constitute advice from a health professional. It is recommended that you consult with an appropriate health professional for advice if you are unwell or have any concerns about using this resource.

Understanding self-care

It’s vital that we understand what self-care is, as well as its importance, when engaging in contexts of palliative and end-of-life care, or healthy grieving as a response to loss.

Watch this video to learn more about understanding self-care.

You can read more about understanding self-care here.

Planning for self-care

Many people find that developing a personalised self-care plan provides a solid foundation for effective self-care. Others report that the proactive nature of consciously planning for self-care is also in itself effective, without necessarily documenting a formal plan. Whichever option you prefer, personalised planning for self-care can be a tremendous support for putting the theory of self-care into practice.

Watch this video to learn more about planning for self-care.

You can find out more about planning for self-care here.

Would you like to create your own personalised self-care plan, or reflect on the self-care planning process?

You might wish to download and use the Self-Care Matters planning tool, which is designed to assist you in reflecting on, and planning for, your self-care. 

Dr Mills and palliative care nurse practitioner and PCA clinical advisor Kate Reed-Cox demonstrate here how to create an effective self-care plan and answer some frequently asked questions about the planning tool.

Practising self-care

Putting self-care into practice is much easier and more effective when we consider the different domains of self-care. Practising self-care strategies from a combination of physical, social, and inner self-care domains will more holistically support your health and wellbeing.

Watch this video to learn more about practising self-care.

You can read more about practising self-care here.

Would you like to try a mindful breathing exercise, body scan, or self-compassion meditation?

The audio clips below were developed to guide the practice of mindfulness, relaxation, and self-compassion to support the use of physical and inner self-care strategies.

Tip: While the first exercise (Mindful Breathing) is short and flexible for personal use in public settings, it is recommended that the Body Scan and Self-compassion guided meditations are best undertaken in a private place as they are intended for private use at home.

Mindful Breathing (Guided Exercise) – approximately 7 minutes



A brief mindful breathing exercise you can learn and use anywhere to help ground yourself in the present moment. Includes ‘box breathing’.




Mindful Body Scan (Guided Relaxation) – approximately 15 minutes



A guided mediation (visualisation) to assist with physical and mental relaxation.




Mindful Self-compassion for self-care (Guided Meditation) - approx. 24mins



A guided meditation to support self-care, self-compassion, and more broadly, compassion for others.





The Palliative Care Australia Self-Care Matters resource was developed for Palliative Care Australia by Incite Positive Education and Research Consulting. Palliative Care Australia is funded by the Australian Government.

Requests for permission to reproduce any part of this resource should be sought in writing from Palliative Care Australia at

About Dr Jason Mills, Managing Director, Incite Positive Education and Research Consulting

Dr Mills has developed Self-Care Matters for PCA reflecting his passion and commitment to promoting self-care awareness and education, particularly for those working in palliative care. His research training and education includes a PhD from the University of Sydney (Self-care, Self-compassion and Compassion for Others), and further postgraduate qualifications at the University of Melbourne (Positive Education). He is a certified compassion educator, having studied and trained to teach the internationally recognised Compassion Cultivation Training (CCT) program at the Stanford University Medical School’s Centre for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE). As Editor-in-Chief for the international journal Progress in Palliative Care, Dr Mills holds a keen interest in this growing field of research and practice, drawing widely from the scientific literature to develop this Self-Care Matters resource.

Additional resources

The links below have been selected because they provide access (generally, for free) to information, resources, and support services. Some of the materials are tailored to specific types of health care professionals and/or carer groups, or for those in particular care settings.

Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Health Workers’ Self-care (Keep yourself healed)

Australian Indigenous Health InfoNet (Taking care of yourself)



CareSearch (Palliative Care Knowledge Network)

Dementia Australia (Taking care of yourself)

Doctors’ Health Service (DRS4DRS)

ELDAC (End of Life Directions in Aged Care)

Head to Health (Supporting yourself - Carers)

Mental health resources for GPs

Nurse and Midwife Support

NurseStrong (Australian College of Nursing)

PalliAged (Palliative Care Aged Care Evidence)

Physician Health and Wellbeing (Royal Australasian College of Physicians)

Self-compassion Exercises (Kristin Neff)

Services for Australian Rural and Remote Allied Health (SARRAH)

The Healthy GP (Blog)



Nursewell App

Further Support

Self-Care Matters is provided to support your self-care practice and is not intended to replace treatment of any medical conditions or otherwise constitute advice from a health professional. It is recommended that you consult with an appropriate health professional for advice if you are unwell or have any concerns about using Self-Care Matters.

If you are feeling overwhelmed or depressed, or need support services, there are support services available:

  • BeyondBlue
    • Beyond Blue Support Service – phone 1300 224 636 (24 hours/7 days) – provides free, immediate, short-term counselling, advice and referral to anyone in Australian via telephone, webchat or email 24/7.
  • Head to Health
    • Head to Health – the Australian Government's digital mental health gateway which helps people more easily access information, advice, and free or low cost phone and online mental health services and supports, that suit their needs, when and where they need it.
  • Lifeline
    • Lifeline Crisis Support – phone 13 11 14 (24 hours/7 days) or chat to a crisis supporter online (7pm – midnight/7 nights). This is a confidential service providing support to anyone in Australia who is feeling overwhelmed, having difficulty coping, or thinking about suicide. This service also provides advice to anyone caring for that person.
  • On the Line
    • On the Line is a professional social health organisation providing counselling support, anywhere and anytime, funded by the Australian Government Department of Health.
  • GriefLine Community and Family Services Inc.
    • GriefLine listens, cares and supports people experiencing loss and grief, at any stage in life