How do you practice acts of self care?
You hear the term often, I’m sure. In Insta-Land alone there are over 16 million posts hash-tagged #selfcare. So it seems like we are aware of the idea but do we really know what it means to practice self care? And more importantly, are we taking the time to practice?
If you aren’t familiar with the idea, self care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness. Or as psychologist Agnes Wainman explained, self-care is “something that refuels us, rather than takes from us.” And the practice can vary drastically from person to person. With our crazy busy lives, overly packed schedules, and nearly constant comparisons to strangers on the internet (if you don’t participate in the last one, damn you’re good because that shit can be hard) self care often gets over looked.
While writing this, I was inspired to revisit my Simplify post of things that make me happy and ways to practice acts of self care. You can check it out here.
But before getting too far ahead, I think it’s also important to know what self care is not. First off- it is not selfish. Remember how when you get on a plane and the flight attendant reminds you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others? They get it… because, really, what good are you going to be if you’re passed out and slumped under the tray table in front of you with your face smashed into your carry on backpack? You’re not. No good. Not unless you take care of your self first.
Self care also isn’t something you force upon yourself- but instead, is a compilation of things that naturally bring a smile to your face, things that make you feel full of goodness. And once you are ‘good’, you can then let your cup of goodness overflow to others… because you can’t pour from an empty cup. You feel me? I should also note, to be super clear- It is not something that we force ourselves to do just because it seems right. If you hate bubble baths- don’t take a bubble bath! Your self care, your decision. It is not necessarily what others have defined as self care.
This practice can be woven into your daily life. For example- giving yourself permission to let go of those persistent energy vampires in your life can be incredibly empowering and healthy. If you walk away from someone feeling completely drained each and every time, it might be a sign to let go, simply because that energy suck can lead you to being incapable of caring for yourself.
The practice can also be something that you schedule in to make sure you don’t overlook YOU. An example of this might look like scheduling an hour a day to do something that truly brings you joy. Or scheduling a massage once a month if that’s what tickles your fancy. Remember, self care is necessary in order to keep us in tip top shape- so release the guilt that might try and creep in and trust that taking care of yourself is also the best way to take care of and serve others.
Some of my favorite acts of self care include:
Epsom Salt Baths
Yeah, I’m that bitch. No shame in my game, I love a hot, half an hour bath in silence. Or maybe with a little John Mayer playing guitar only for me.
Just getting ideas out of my head and on ‘paper’ releases so much stress for me. When I write things out, it has the ability to take away the power a negative thought may have had over me. Journaling can be extremely therapeutic… once you get past the feeling of being a young teeny-bopper pouring her little heart out.
Giving Myself Permission to Say No
“If it’s not a hell yes, it’s a no”– Jen Hatmaker. Preach sister. If I can only half ass it, or not give it my full attention, or do it just to bitch about it the entire time- it might be best that I bow out in the beginning to avoid resentment and stress later on. I’m learning to really dig boundaries.
My alone time is sacred. It is when I calm down, process, and recharge. I love quiet and I require time where I can focus my energy on only me. Working, being a parent, a partner, etc. are all wonderful things but they can also take a lot out of you. Setting aside alone time to just BE is be-utiful. For me- sometimes this looks like waiting until everyone is asleep and organizing and consolidating my many sticky notes from the week, preparing my schedule for the upcoming month, organizing my to-do lists and upcoming projects, or just taking a moment to step back and re-evaluate priorities. And sometimes it looks like me… sitting there… in a locked bathroom… savoring the silence.
Connecting with nature may sound hippy-dippy and very woo-woo but I dig it. If possible, I take my shoes off and connect with the earth, face up to the sky so to take in the sun or the moon. Being outside is an instant refresher for me. And if I can hear birds chirping and singing, it’s an added bonus. No shits- I will literally hug a tree if it feels right.
Affirmations and Belly Breathing
Affirmations are my jam. I have been using them for years to help manifest positives in my life but also as a form of self care. When things seem out of my control or overwhelming, I say to myself “Breathe, everything is happening exactly as it should be” or I might remind myself that “I am enough”. Affirmations paired with deep belly breaths can help calm the nervous system, alleviate stress, and improve confidence. Plus, breathing is pretty important to living, so there’s that. * Special thanks to my pal Jacqueline who introduced me and the tiny humans to this number one hit.
Not just anything without a button and zipper, I mean like early 90’s PE clothes sweatpants. Not leggings, not swishy pants, not PJ pants. I’m talking Straight. Up. Sweatpants. They just make me happy. Pair them up with an undisturbed binge sess’ of a Dr. Pimple Popper marathon… that, right there, that is my ultimate self care.
What self care is not for me: Spending money I don’t have in the name of self care just to stress later and require more intense self care. I mean, I’m all for Treat Yo’ Self as long as Yo’ Self can afford it. There are lots of free and inexpensive ways to take care of your mind, body, soul. And it won’t look the same for everyone.
Oh, and to be clear- It’s definitely not being a total bitchwad and labeling it as self care. Because, rude.
If you are struggling with what self care looks like for you, start by jotting some ideas down. Get your mind used to the idea that self care is not selfish and instead, so very necessary. Eventually your mind will begin to recognize what fills your cup and ideas will start to flow.
If you already practice, what are your preferred acts of self care? Comment below… because you never know when sharing your story might be the ceremonial fire lighting under someone else’s ass.