These past couple of weeks it has felt as though every time I turn around, I see a new article or blog post on the topic of “self-care.” Starting out, I thought I had a pretty good idea about what self-care is and what it is not. But honestly, the more self-care posts I read through, the more uncertain I became!
I wanted to get to the bottom of this “self-care” business once and for all, so I did some research on my own. It turns out that the reason I started feeling so uncertain about self-care after reading those posts is because there are a lot of people saying a lot of different things about it. (Most people mean well, but I think at least a few have missed the point entirely!)
Because mental health and wellness are topics that I take very seriously, I wanted to devote today’s blog post to clearing the air about self-care. My hope is that by the end of this post, you can walk away with a confident understanding of what self-care means and how you can incorporate it into your own life!
What Is Self-Care?
Self-care simply refers to the practice of caring for yourself. It means protecting and safeguarding your own wellbeing, including your physical, mental, and emotional health. There are general guidelines for what qualifies as self-care (which we’ll cover shortly), but it’s important to understand that the only person who has the authority to decide what self-care means for you is YOU!
2 Common Myths About Self-Care, Debunked
Here are a couple of the most pervasive self-care myths that I’ve encountered recently. I wanted to address them specifically, because buying into these myths can give you a very warped (and even harmful) view of self care!
Myth #1: “Self-care means going to great lengths to maintain my physical appearance.“
- While you certainly can go to great lengths to keep your hair, nails, and skin looking perfect, that is not necessarily self-care. If getting your nails done every once in a while is relaxing and makes you feel good, that could qualify as self-care! But the moment you start to feel pressured (pressured to find time for that appointment, pressured to go when you don’t feel like it, etc.), it stops being self-care and starts being just another point of stress in your life.
Myth #2: “Self-care means ‘treating myself,’ so I should eat whatever I want and do whatever I want.”
- One of the trickiest things about caring for someone is learning when to say “no.” For example, even if your dog really wanted the chocolate you were eating, you still wouldn’t give it to him because you know chocolate isn’t good for him! The same idea applies to self-care—it’s about doing what’s best for yourself, and not just acting on your own whims.
7 Simple Ways To Practice Self-Care
1. Treat Yourself Like Someone You Love
For the most part, we treat ourselves vastly differently than we treat other people. We comfort our friends when they are feeling down, we encourage sick family members to get rest and stay hydrated, and we make sure our spouses got enough to eat at dinner. But many of us don’t offer even a fraction of the same love and support to ourselves!
So try to take notice of the way you treat the people you love. Notice when you support them, show concern for them, and offer to help them. And then take all those caring gestures and offer them to yourself too! Treating yourself with love and respect is the foundation of self-care.
2. Improve Your Self-Talk
Self-talk is another area where we tend to be harsher on ourselves than on other people. The next time you catch yourself beating yourself up or making judgments about yourself, stop and ask, “Would I ever say that to my best friend?” (The answer is almost always, “Of course not!”)
If you don’t know where to start with improving your self-talk, try repeating one of these positive affirmations to yourself when you are feeling discouraged or down:
- “I am strong and capable.”
- “My hard work will pay off.”
- “I appreciate challenges and what I learn from overcoming them.”
3. Take Care Of Your Body
You don’t have to turn into a health god or goddess overnight, but do your best to give your body what it needs. Drink plenty of water, try your best to eat healthy foods in healthy amounts, and walk outside whenever you can. Do the things that make you feel healthy and strong!
4. Prioritize Your Mental Health
Your physical health is important, but so is your mental health. Protect your mental health by setting healthy boundaries and giving yourself time to recharge. Seeing a therapist is a great way to prioritize your mental health, or you can start a yoga or meditation practice. Whatever you can do to protect your own mental wellbeing, take the time to do it.
5. Keep A Gratitude Journal
Having routines can help keep you feeling grounded and centered. And having a routine that revolves around feeling grateful is doubly beneficial! Take five minutes a day to jot down one or two things you feel grateful for. Taking the time to do this simple routine will help retrain your brain to focus on positive things.
6. Take Care Of Something
Taking care of a pet, a plant, a garden, or a flowerbed can help you foster a feeling of life and growth in your home. Helping something else grow and thrive can be really rewarding, and it can even help you manage your own stress levels.
7. Give Yourself A Gift
If you’ve been dreaming about getting a massage because they leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, go get a massage! You don’t have to wait around for someone else to give you a gift certificate for one as a gift. Consider it a gift to yourself, because you know it will be beneficial and make you happy! :-)
And if funds are tight, you can never go wrong with an at-home spa day! Learn how to have the ultimate spa day at home at the link below.
What’s one thing you do for yourself in the name of self-care?