First, I think it’s important to know what ‘self-care’ is…
There is no definitive approach and it works more as a ‘one size fits all’ sort of philosophy.
Self-care is ultimately done by YOU for YOU. It’s identifying and acknowledging your own needs mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually then doing what you have to do to meet those needs.
I think the concept of self-care has become a little diluted. I’m seeing a lot of companies advertise products and concepts that don’t really hit the core value.
Using triggers to make you feel as if the ultimate level of balance won’t be reached unless you buy this glittery bath bomb, get 12 massages a week or spend $100 on those ‘smell good’ candles.
Don’t get me wrong. I love me some smelly smell good candles.
I just think all of those indulgences serve more as tools or aids to help us relax and check in as we prepare to focus on the real work.
Yes, the real work. The work on the inside.
Self-care is getting real intimate with yourself. It gets awkward. Not gonna lie, but that’s because we’re not used to hanging out with that part of ourselves.
Self fixin’ isn’t always glamorous.
You have to do some serious inner work and here are some powerful practices you can incorporate to help you on the journey to ultimate balance.
I’m sure by now the concept of journaling may seem a little repetitive but that’s because when something proves over and over that it works, it kinda catches like wildfire.
To some it may sound corny or something extra to add to your long list of things to do everyday, but you’re here on this page for a reason.
Your searching for an answer to do things differently in your life. Why not just humor the idea and try it?
Writing out what’s going on in that golden noggin of yours will help with perspective and aids with developing self awareness.
It’s an awesome way to maintain privacy while being completely honest with oneself about what’s really going on internally.
I used to religiously journal years ago and, such as life, I stopped writing along with many other rituals.
I had once again reached a point where I needed to do something different with my approach to achieve my goals because what I’ve been doing up until this point hasn’t been working.
So, starting from square one I picked journaling back up and lemme tell you, I really forgot how therapeutic it could be to put thoughts out on paper.
If you don’t do some variation of this already, I dare you to give it a try. Just one time.
Every morning, at the start of your day, do an exercise called ‘Morning Pages‘.This concept was created by Julia Cameron an American teacher, author, artist, poet, playwright, novelist, filmmaker and journalist.
She sounds like an excellent resource to me. Morning Pages consists of free writing in a regular sized notebook for 3 straight pages. Even if you can’t think of anything to write.
Literally write that.
I don’t know what to write. What am I going to do today? That TV show last night was awesome. I especially like that character because…
You get the idea. Those thoughts seem simple yes, but it’s the best place to start because you will train yourself to be more aware of your thoughts and the journaling will begin to dig deeper and deeper. If you commit to the exercise that is.
Encouraging you to do something different here.
2. Unplug & Disconnect
Mental health is mad important. There is a butt load of over-stimulation in our world and you’re kidding yourself if you don’t think any of that has an influence on our thoughts.
TV, social media, advertising and even traffic are all stimulants capable of conjuring up negative triggers that we’re working ever so hard to get rid of. You can’t even pump gas nowadays without a tiny television turning on while you pump. Literally pumping you information. (gas pun accompanied by a laughing knee slap)
Like your phone or your computer, your body and mind need a break and turned off for an hour or two.
Find a quiet place, turn off your phone, no TV, no distractions. Just sit with your thoughts. Engage with them. Explore them. Why are you thinking what your thinking? What do you wan out of life? It’s okay if an answer doesn’t come to you right away. Keep practicing, it’s going to reveal itself to you if you put in the work.
Try it out. Only start at 5-15 minutes and work your way up. Honestly, be happy if you get through 2 minutes. Seriously, I know how hard it can be and it takes work every single day.
It’s a lot like going to the gym. It takes some time to get stronger and better.
You can do things like Yoga or any other form of meditation to really learn how to disconnect from the outside world and focus in on your insides.
It’s an excellent way to recharge and to be kind to yourself. Acknowledge yourself and how you’re feeling. Be your own best friend.
I love this one.
So simple right? So why do a majority of us not do this more often?
If you’re like me, you probably like to unknowingly punish yourself since according to society, overworking yourself is attributed to being successful. Napping can often times be viewed as lazy. (Pfft)
Sleep. Good. Napping. Gooooooood.
Naps have been proven to improve brain function and productivity.
A quick power nap can make such a world of difference. And if that’s another way to enhance my self care then please sign me up!
The proof is in the pudding. Corporate companies and colleges all over the world are installing ‘nap rooms’ like Google and the University of Michigan.
You know what to do. Take a snooze.
4. Being Active/ Exercise
Trust me if it wasn’t important I would avoid exercise like the plague. But alas, our body really needs it.
The oxygen, the blood flow, movement, extension and flexion.
I really wish I had some magic dust to give you, say Abracadabra and poof! You’re a balanced person.
It just doesn’t work that way unfortunately.
It might seem like the human journey to the ultimate realization of our destiny consists of yoga/ cardio/ Pilates/ running/ parkour or whatever physical activity is glorified on TV & Social Media.
It can sometimes be one of those practices that isn’t so glamorous but that doesn’t mean you have to do be a masochist in the gym or over exert yourself. You don’t have to run 3 miles everyday or power lift.
All you have to do is what feels right for you. Just be aware. Go for a stroll, park farther away in the parking lot, do some soft laps in the pool, sit on the floor and stretch, dance or walk in the sand at the beach.
Start small and take it slow. The world is at you fingertips and why not actively explore it right?
The benefits are endless when it comes to exercise, but my favorite part is the mind body relationship that will develop. Exercise has helped me to listen to myself and keep my thoughts aligned with the rest of my self care.
Think about it. A good majority of us sit at a desk for 8-12 hours not moving or getting up to stretch. Muscles begin to atrophy which then turns into other health issues like back problems, hip problems or knee problems.
Exercise is another way to get to know yourself, challenge yourself, forgive yourself and love yourself.
Think about how YOU would like to stay active keeping in mind that exercise is one of the BIGGEST ways we can care for ourselves.
5. Say “No” More Often
Did I get some confused head tilts?
Self care also means setting boundaries for yourself, especially with people or imposed philosophies that don’t serve you. It’s okay to not go to that party tonight so you can get a good night’s rest for work in the morning or to finish that paper that’s due.
Boundaries help to eliminate self sabotaging behaviors. It’s okay to not have to please everyone all the time. It’s not your obligation to help someone find their happiness or inconvenience your own growth to make others feel good around you.
It’s easier said than done, I get it. We want so badly to feel accepted and liked.
But you have to like yourself first.
Honor yourself and live the way that YOU want to.
There is nothing wrong with going for what you want. What’s wrong is that we will stagnate ourselves and limit our growth to stay liked and feel accepted by others who don’t even matter or could care less about what you’re going through. They have their own problems to work out.
Stop living to please and seeking validation from anyone outside of your own self.
Saying ‘no’ can give you a lot of your power back.
Who knew that such a small and seemingly word could hold so much positive power.
So you see, self care is a journey. It’d an extremely intimate relationship with oneself that should be treated with awareness and delicacy.
Do you treat others better than you treat yourself? Are you sacrificing more for others than you are for yourself?
Take time to get to know yourself better.
Take care of yourself.