Self-care has become a really popular concept in the last couple of years.
With a quick google and hashtag search, you can find hundreds of self-care activities like exploring a hike, drawing a bubble bath, aromatherapy, meditating, #spaday, etc…. It’s inspiring that people are awakening to the idea of turning their own kindness and compassion inward and that there are resources at your fingertips!
The internet and social media are doing a great job helping people get started with self-care, but what you won’t find online is the “self” part of self-care. If you’re going to care for yourself, you need to look inside and get acquainted with yourself and your needs. A crucial part of self-care is that it is personal and unique to you. It’s empty without inner work and self-reflection. It’s an ongoing and active effort, and it isn’t always pleasant.
It’s simple: we all have different needs. To get to know them, you need to think for yourself. The first step of a self-care strategy is taking a moment to consider what your current physical and emotional state is in. Do you need to regenerate? Do you need to maintain? Do you need to improve? Brainstorm some ideas that might help you reach those goals. This is where the internet can be useful if you want help with making a plan and building a habit; but it’s your job to pick what those habits are. If you tried to do some self-reflection and you’re just not sure where to start, try some tips online and then commit time to considering how that activity impacted you. Consider your mood before and after the activity, consider how your body felt before, during and after.
Keep in mind that some activities won’t have an immediate impact, rather they provide a cumulative effect over time. For example, those who begin meditation often report that it is very frustrating, brings up unpleasant emotions, and that it’s physically difficult to sit still. Overtime, these growing pains subside, and practitioners can experience relaxation and improved focus.
It’s helpful to follow each self-care activity with a moment of reflection. Writing in a notebook or phone app can be useful for keeping track of these thoughts. I understand this isn’t everyone’s jam, but at least take a moment to consider and decide whether you will keep a record or not. Make a commitment either way; change commitments as needed.
What you Need isn’t always Nice
Sometimes self-care is being able to enjoy that extra slice of birthday cake, and sometimes self-care is getting real with yourself and admitting that you need to change. That’s right, it isn’t just #treatyourself.
Sometimes self-care is apologizing. Sometimes it is setting boundaries by saying no. Sometimes it is doing your physiotherapy exercises. Sometimes it is creating an ergonomic work-from-home space.
Sometimes self-care is choosing to have a decaf coffee because you are already physically anxious.
Sometimes self-care is providing service to others by donating or volunteering to a cause that is close to your heart.
Sometimes self-care is letting your house chores wait so you can spend quality time with your significant other, chosen family, or furry friend.
Self-care can be an infinite number of things as long as it is promoting your emotional, physical, and mental health.
Ongoing & Active
Like physical exercise or fuelling your car’s gas tank, it’s not something you do just once and check it off your list. It is an ongoing process. Some weeks it is easy and other weeks it is difficult. As life changes, so will your self-care needs. Check in with yourself on a monthly basis and consider what you might need to adjust.
If you had any thoughts while reading this post, I encourage you to type it out or write it down somewhere. Anything you thought while reading this (even if it was a disagreement) is an indication of your self-care philosophy. Use this as a starting point and take it from there!
My hope is that you’ll flex your reflection skills and come up with a self-care activity that wasn’t mentioned in this post. What self-care activity would you do even if no one knew you were doing it?