Most of us live such busy lives, whether it be work, kids, home, family, technology, etc., that we are often last on our own priority list. The irony is that we have so much less to offer others and the world around us when we are not taking care of ourselves. Additionally, when we don’t actively and purposefully take time out to focus on ourselves, we end up with a pretty big void. (A void that’s often filled with food!) So, self-care is really essential to our general wellness and for the benefit of everyone around us! But what exactly is it?
What Is Self-Care?
Self-Care is exactly what it sounds like: doing what you need to do to take care of yourself. The real trick is setting aside the time to do it! As far as the specifics of self-care, it is really just something you WANT to do and something that makes you feel good. And good can mean calm, relaxed, refreshed, rejuvenated, happy, soothed, invigorated, optimistic, joyful, or any combination thereof!
What self-care is NOT is anything that you HAVE to do- so work, chores, errands, etc. If it’s a have-to, it’s not self-care. Self-care is also not about taking care of anyone else. It is truly just about you. It is a wonderfully healthy form of selfishness and the best way to make ‘selfish’ be a good word!
Why You Should Do Self-Care?
When it comes to self-care, many people shy away feeling that it is somehow “wrong” to spend time or energy taking care of themselves. The fact is that most of us put others’ needs ahead of our own. This can mean the needs of our spouse, children, parents, boss, friends, siblings, etc. And that is a kind and generous way to live, but it leaves you depleted and with very little left to give. What happens when you start making yourself important and take good care of yourself, is you replenish your energy stores. You reconnect with your body and your needs and are able to meet them and truly make yourself feel good and feel LOVED! As a result, you have so much more to give those around you!
So, in a roundabout sort of way, taking time out to focus on yourself and prioritize your self-care, is the ultimately way of giving more to others. Because you are ensuring that you are well enough to give. You are clearing your head, revitalizing your energy stores, and treating your body, brain, mind, and heart to wellness. Isn’t it likely that you will be a better spouse, parent, child, sibling, friend, employee, etc. as a result of that???
How to do Self-Care
So, what does self-care actually look like? Well, each person’s self-care is as unique as each person! But to help you find the type of self-care that feels right for you, I’ve identified 7 different categories of self-care and will give you examples from each to help you identify your own personal brand of self-care.
1) SHUT OFF- read a book, take a nap, meditate, snuggle with your pet, journal, sit in nature, watch the sunset or sunrise, knit or crochet, window shop
2) SELF-LOVE- write yourself a love letter, take a bath, make a gratitude list, smile at a stranger, give yourself a facial, make a donation, make a list of your positive traits, write a thank you card to yourself
3) HAVE FUN- dance, watch your favorite movie, skip like a kid, color or do an art project, play video games, have sex or masturbate, drive or walk somewhere new, sing at the top of your lungs
4) ENGAGE/CONNECT- go for a walk with someone, make a phone call, have a friend picnic, make a coffee date, give a friend a care package, write a letter, go hiking with a friend
5) PAMPER- Get a massage, give yourself a facial, have breakfast in bed, take a bubble bath, have a movie marathon, do some online shopping, make a fun dessert, sit in a Jacuzzi
6) WELLNESS- do some stretching, meditate, have a ‘real food’ day, take a walk, journal, cook something healthy, spend time in a garden, try a new exercise, drink LOTS of water
7) TREAT/SPLURGE- cook your favorite meal, visit a museum, sleep in, buy yourself something new, enjoy a leisurely breakfast, play hooky from work, give yourself a manicure
Now that you know what self-care is and how valuable it can be, your task is simply to go do it! Carve out some time (it can be 5 minutes a day, a 30 minute block twice a week, or anything else that feels right for you) and pick out some self-care activities to try. As you go through some of them, you will find the ones that really fit well for you. And more importantly, as you continue prioritizing your self-care, you will start to reap the benefits….Enjoy!