Self Care for Life
SELF-CARE - a term that we hear often that is a crucial part of our happiness. Self-care helps us maintain a healthy body and mind. Through regular self-care we can feel more connected to ourselves, to nature, and to the world. But self care doesn't come easily or effortlessly. Self-care can mean different things for different people and it can take years to figure out what we each need.
Manicures vs Meditation
Before we can figure out what works for each of us it's important to learn what isn't self-care and that it is different for each individual. Maybe one person defines self-care as Netflix binging with their favorite dessert. Maybe it's getting weekly manicures or taking yourself shopping. These aren't necessarily bad things but I personally don't think they are things that will add to your mental and physical health - they're just temporary relaxers that are more of self-pampering or self-indulging. The problem with some types of self-pampering is that it can lead to guilt or negative thinking afterwards. There are times when I am just plain lazy and don't feel like doing anything and a Netflix binge sesh is all I want to do. But after sitting on my couch for a couple hours I start to guilt myself and develop negative self talk in my head about how I should get off my ass and do something. Maybe someone takes themselves shopping for a day but then later has nervous thoughts that they can't afford the things they bought and then that leads to more stress. This is literally the opposite of self-care.
Self-care is not pampering or self-indulgence. Self-care takes hard work and can help us learn to self-calm emotional distresses without temporary self-indulgences. Self-indulgence feels good for short period of time but is really just the avoidance of true self-care with substitution through quick and easy remedies. It's important to remind ourselves that self-care should not feel like a chore and that self-care is not being selfish. With that being said there I don’t think there is anything wrong with self-indulgence as long as it's in healthy moderation.
Being a Self-Care Badass
Self care used to not be much of a thing in my life. In my twenties I partied hard, slept in late and didn't have much of a regular work out routine. I skied and hiked occasionally but fresh air mostly involved sun bathing by a pool. I did journal at times and would read books while traveling but quiet time to myself was not a regular thing. When I moved to the PNW I developed anxiety and started to realize that I needed better ways of coping with the down times. I needed ways to feel good about myself that didn't involve spending money on my appearance.
I believe that self-care means choosing behaviors that balance our emotional and physical health. Things such as regular exercising, healthy eating, getting enough sleep, practicing yoga or meditation, pursuing creative outlets, and engaging in positive relationships all contribute to self-care. For me self-care means maintaining my mind and body wellness through many of the things that I just listed. It has taken me years to learn what is self-care for myself and I'm sure my definition of self care will continue to change with age.
There are many ways we can work more self-care into our lives without it feeling like a chore. For starters keep things simple. Don't overcommit yourself with too many obligations. Try and start each morning with gratitude and a positive inner dialogue. Find some time to be still and read a book or journal during your day. If you are training for a physical endeavor or you just love working out remember to give yourself rest days. Try something new like starting a meditation practice, unplug for a day, or meet with a therapist - whatever you do, do it for YOU.