As the days pass, mental health awareness grows (slowly, but it grows) and the phrase ‘self-care’ becomes even more commercialized.
The hype of “treating yourself” and taking a moment for some “retail therapy” becomes more mainstream and therefore acceptable to run your bank account into the ground, assuming that it will help you get over a tough day or a crappy break-up.
And before you guys get all hot-and-bothered because of my initial statements on this, I am NOT knocking any of the aforementioned methods of self-care… because…. well… they technically ARE forms of self-care.
But that’s just it. Those are only a tiny, few forms of self-care. Unfortunately the market has saturated the term and your subconscious that tells us that we NEED to buy in order to feel whole again. The retail industry tries to convince you that we NEED this moisturizer to bring sanity back into our hectic lives. The fact of the matter is: self-care is more than just a face mask, a nose strip, or a $6 bath bomb.
So what is self-care?
By definition, (as per PsychCentral,) self-care is “any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.” It’s about taking into account your overall status of being in the moment and doing whatever is positive, refueling, and helps you maintain good health within your being.
“BUT DESIREE! SHOPPING HELPS MY BEING.” I mean, yeah, but that’s only one of the many aspects you need to be refueling. A lot of the time, getting a good night’s sleep, drinking water, and taking a second to breathe or say “no” are very easy, tangible ways of practicing self-care. You owe it to yourself to grow mentally, physically, and emotionally by taking these things into account and taking a good, hard look at yourself to see how you can take a moment and live better. Everyone is worthy and capable of change.
The real kicker is: are you willing to practice honest reflection and self-awareness in order to give yourself the sustainable, substantial self-care you need?
I know that in my life, I’ve struggled to practice self-care because I always thought that I was coming off as “selfish” or “self-absorbed” if I did and I still battle the urge to fall into anxious patterns because I don’t feel that I “deserve” to practice it. But damn it, I do. I owe it to myself to take care of my well-being and shut off anything negative that doesn’t deserve my effort, time, or attention.
So here are things to keep in mind when trying to practice true, fulfilling forms of self-care:
1. Set up some boundaries (both personal and for various interrelations).
Can I tell you something that you may or may not need to hear? It is completely fine if you say “no” to someone or something. We don’t need to be a part of everything going on, and you don’t need to run your clock just because you feel like you owe anyone anything. Start setting up some boundaries for yourself and get serious with what you want and need to practice in your life. Take care of YOURSELF first and then everything else will end up the way they should. Boundaries will also help you create some personal space and give you room to reflect on the present moment at hand.
2. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for anything.
Sometimes we feel like we need to justify our every action, but we don’t. You don’t need to prove anything to anyone, and you have the right to revoke consent and all permissions previously granted to preserve yourself. Although it is deemed as a courtesy to those around you, you don’t need to explain your decisions and actions to anyone. And I say that fairly. A lot of the time, people may demand to know why you’ve made certain decisions, but the truth is that you don’t always need to give them that information. Taking control of your life by reserving your own privacy with no complimentary explanation IS okay.
3. You are in control of everything in your life (including how you practice self-care).
Do what YOU want to do to heal and reflect. Just because one self-care routine works for someone does not mean that it is the perfect self-care routine for you. One of the simplest ways I practice self-care is by grabbing a Cappuccino Blast from Baskin Robbins and walking (and smelling) through the candle aisle at Target just to bring myself some joy out of a hectic week with my boyfriend in tow. If you want to take a bubble bath and cry a little bit to get your emotions out? Do it! You feel like going to the gym for a good session? You got it! However you decide to practice self-care, it is up to you and you alone to find it.
4. Self-care is about recentering and preserving yourself by whatever (non-addictive, legal, safe) means necessary.
Bringing this train full-circle, self-care is all about doing what’s best for your overall health. Self-care even includes basic hygiene practices as well –not just living in the moment or treating yourself to something nice. Finding a new skin care routine can be one form of self-care. Taking a jog and getting fresh air can be another. Anything that promotes a better well-being that is personalized just for you is a perfect form of self-care.
5. Consider logging your thoughts in a journal.
I find that the most efficient way that you can keep track of your life’s patterns, thoughts, and routines is through journaling! I’m a sucker for a new journal and it’s always a good idea to jot down what does –and doesn’t — make you feel good. Plus! If you’re not quite sure on what self-care routine to follow, journaling the process of finding one is a journey in itself that can lead to growth and self-discovery!
All-in-all, self-care holds a much larger scope of practices that the general public doesn’t often talk about.
Beneath the aisles and articles about the best nose strips and the exfoliating face wash for “self-care”, the real meaning behind it all is self-awareness and reflection. Take the time and make this year about your own self-improvement, growth, and health.