Self-care: you’ve heard of it. It’s everywhere. It is an idea commonly used to sell you millennial pink bath products, but it is actually so much more than that. Self-care is basically just improving the relationship you have with yourself. How often do you think about the relationship you have with yourself? What do you put into the relationship? What do you get out of it? Are you kind to yourself? Do you reflect on your feelings and behaviors regularly? Do you take care of your own needs – mentally, physically, spiritually, financially, emotionally? A dedicated self-care routine can help you level up from a person just living their life to a person in charge of their life.
It might feel weird to make yourself a priority, and that’s the tricky part of self-care. We’re used to labeling people who think about themselves as selfish, but that’s not actually the case. In fact, tending to yourself can leave you feeling stronger and more capable of helping others than if you ignored your needs completely. On airplanes, the flight attendant always has a little speech about putting on your own oxygen mask before you help anyone else. The idea for self-care is the same. You are no help to anyone if you don’t help yourself. Instead of thinking of self-care as selfish, consider it a way to put the best of yourself into everything you do.
Here are 6 of our favorite ways to prioritize self-care in your everyday life:
Take your time
Remember, you can’t transform your whole life overnight. You probably aren’t going to go from regular person to self-care wizard right away, and that’s okay! Don’t expect too much of yourself right away. Build up new self-care habits over time, and you will find it easier to stick to them and add new ones in the future.
Start with something simple
What is one simple thing that will help you feel better? Is it giving yourself a daily allowance to rein in your spending? Is it waking up a little earlier? Do you want to spend more time reading? Pick one small thing, and start there. If you want to spend more time with your nose in a book, set a recurring event or reminder on your calendar to spend ten minutes reading.
Check your language
The way you talk to yourself can be a good way to ease into self-care. Do you speak kindly to yourself? Or are you constantly beating yourself up? Instead of passively allowing negative self-talk, try to interrupt it as you notice it. When you notice a negative or guilt-ridden thought, try to reframe it. Instead of saying “I should be doing this,” say “I get to do this,” or “I have the opportunity to do this.” The word ‘should’ is one that we use all the time but we don’t really consider the burden that word puts on us mentally.
Consider what self-care means for you
What works for someone else might not work for you. This is especially true for self-care. You are the expert of your own self, so take some time to think about what will make you feel taken care of. Do you need more time alone to recharge? Do you need to get your finances figured out? If you’re stuck on what kind of self-care will work for you, try out a few different things and see what sticks. You can also write down a list of how you want to feel when you take care of yourself. Do you want to feel calm, at ease, grounded, joyful, amused? What are some things that give you those feelings now? Take some time to brainstorm.
Don’t sabotage yourself in the name of self-care
Self-care is a buzzword lately, and with good reason. The relationship we have with ourselves is the most important one we have in our lives, and taking care of ourselves is part of that. However, it’s pretty easy to label everything that feels good as ‘self-care’, even when that might not be the case. Watching Netflix for hours on end might feel great (and sometimes, that is what you need!) but it also might be a way to avoid doing things. Sometimes self-care means doing boring or hard things, like cleaning out your refrigerator or setting a budget. Sometimes it means drawing a boundary in a relationship. It’s easy to overlook these aspects of self-care because they aren’t fun or pampering in some way, but they’re still important. The next time you find yourself justifying something in the name of self-care, consider if that’s actually the truth.
Reconsider social media
Social media can feel draining sometimes. The endless scroll of perfectly curated lives is an impossible standard to live up to, and it can be hard to stop comparing yourself to the people you see online. It’s probably not realistic for everyone to delete their social accounts entirely, but try to make the experience as pleasant as possible for yourself. Who can you mute or unfollow? Try to follow accounts that make you feel better about yourself and your life – bodies that look like yours, causes you support, artists who make you smile. You can also set reminders on your phone to limit your screen time, if you’re worried you’re spending too much time mindlessly scrolling. You can always override the limits, but it can be nice to have the reminder to exit social media and re-enter real life.
Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated, it just has to work for you. Luckily, there’s no self-care judge, and there’s not really a wrong way to do it. Just be honest with yourself about how you feel and what you need, and build from there. If you need assistance figuring out your goals or values or brainstorming ways to practice self-care, we can help!