What is Self-Care?
There is a lot of talk in the health and wellness world about self-care these days, but what does that mean? Let’s delve in to learn more and find ways to take care of ourselves daily.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care in it’s most simple definition means taking care of yourself. Duh, right? It can mean eating well, drinking enough water, or getting enough sleep. While all of those things are immensely helpful in being the best versions of ourselves, it’s not all that we can be doing.
Self-care means taking time for YOU, every day, no matter what. It means carving out time to do something that will ultimately help you to be a better person, friend, or partner. Doing things for ourselves (ladies, I’m looking at you!) is challenging-- we’re always rushing around doing things for others and we’re usually okay with that, but what happens when you run out of steam? How do you recharge?
Let’s be clear that self-care is in no way selfish. In fact, it’s the opposite. While it may seem unnecessary to take 10 minutes to do something for yourself, it’s actually extremely healthy for our overall well-being. Taking care of ourselves gives us a more positive outlook, a fresh perspective, offers inspiration and insight, and can even improve our self-esteem and confidence.
Self-Care Looks Different for Everyone
Self-care can mean different things to different people. For one person it could mean exercise, for another, it could mean daily meditation. One person’s bubble bath, is another person’s time for journaling. Your 10-minute nap could be my 10-minute kitchen dance party. There are a million things that you could do to recharge but not everyone needs the same thing.
Think of it as “me-time” but not the kind of me-time that leaves you glued to your phone scrolling through Facebook or Instagram. While those might be entertaining, they don’t really help you take care of yourself. In fact, they might actually make you start comparing yourself or your life to others, which can make you feel worse. Instead do something that will help you feel recharged.
Yoga, meditation, journaling, naps, reading, painting, hiking, gratitude journals, snuggling pets, cozying up with a blanket and a good book, crying, laughing, dancing, going to a park, soaking up the sunshine, listening to music, and getting a massage are all kinds of self-care but that is certainly not a complete list. Find things that you love, things that bring you joy or peace and carve out time to do one of these things every single day.
You Can’t Pour from an Empty Cup
On days when there is a lot of negativity going around, it’s easy to get sucked up in it. As an introvert and an empath, I get how emotionally draining life can be sometimes. I also hear the “I’m busy” excuse often. No matter how much you have going on, self-care is important enough to schedule into your daily planner. Even five minutes can make a difference and everyone has five minutes.
It’s important to remember that you can’t help others if you don’t help yourself first. You can’t pour from an empty cup. Putting yourself last all the time really takes it’s toll after awhile and will leave you feeling exhausted, drained of all energy and helpfulness, and only spewing negative emotions. I’d be willing to guess that’s not exactly how you want to live your life. Self-care is a practice, just like anything else. If you work at it every day, your foundation will be strong. If you work at it once a month, you’ll be starting from square one every time you start.
When we have a good foundation of self-care, we know exactly what to do in times of stress and uncertainty. We have almost “trained” our bodies to respond in calm, to think more clearly, to step back and process things first.
So whether it’s taking a yoga class, having a cup of tea, lying on the grass looking at the stars, or just curling up for five minutes on your own in complete silence, do whatever it is that fills you up. Slow down, take it all in, savor each moment, because these small moments of time that we give ourselves truly are the best gifts of all.
Here’s my challenge to you: Do one form of self-care every single day this week. Anything you want and it doesn’t have to be the same thing every day. At the end of the day ask yourself, “How did I fill my cup today? What brought me joy? Peace? Feelings of love and contentment?” Self-care is important every day, not just when we are feeling drained, so start today. When you make this a regular practice you’ll be prepared to bring yourself mentally to a calm space when things get a little bumpy.
What will you do TODAY to start taking care of YOU?
Interested in meditation but not sure where to start? I would recommend checking out work by Sharon Salzberg and also checking out the apps Simply Being and Relax & Rest (both available on iTunes.) I have also heard people recommend Headspace, though I have not used it.
Need more inspiration? Check out these 9 Ted Talks on The Importance of Self-Care.