I had a friend ask me recently "What exactly do you mean by 'self-care'? I keep seeing it in social media posts, and you mention it a lot, but I don't really understand the reasoning behind it." This kinda got to me, because it definitely has been a topic of discussion and on my mind for a little while now...and it has been the driving force behind a lot of my decisions recently.
What is self-care? According to Maria Baratta Ph.D. L.C.S.W. self care is "a huge part of what's missing in the life of someones who's busy and stressed." That definition really defines a lot of people I know, including me! Often I find myself so wrapped up in thinking about, analysizing, making to-do lists, and work that I forget to take care of myself.
I'm not saying I forget to do the most basic things... but I kind of go on "auto pilot" for many things, including but not limited to: eating, getting up in the morning, rushing to work, getting as much done as possible, and then stressing out because I got distracted (which worsens when my to-do lists pile up)! As the days go on, I become more easily distracted, my avoidance to get things done becomes stronger, and by the end of the day I feel like beating myself up because I just didn't get the things done that I feel I NEEDED to- all because I'm not maintaining a simple self care routine.
Why is self-care such a big deal?
First off- let's talk about what self care is NOT. Self care isn't something that you should ever feel forced to do. It isn't something that makes you feel angry or upset, and it definitely isn't something you should feel even more guilty for. If you are doing this to yourself- STOP! Right now. You know yourself and you know your body better than anyone, so start by trusting yourself a little more when it comes to these little things.
Self care helps us move through life at an easier pace. With a little bit of self care each day, we develop a greater sense of self-value. Our time is valuable, YOU are valuable, your thoughts and the time you put into yourself is very valuable. Self care is the key to improved mood and reduced anxiety! It is easy to start a self care routine and I highly suggest starting with one or two things, that aren't planned, and just do them when the urge hits you. Keep a conscious and open mind when it comes to your mental and physical state- it starts with acceptance, love, and a little self care.
I found that this cycle of constant stress wasn't serving me well. I had to break the cycle. This is where self-care steps in and it's a great tool that you can utilize in your life to break up that stress cycle! Self care can include anything that mentally and physically relaxes you, gives you a personal value-boost, and helps you maintain a healthy outlook of your life.
Eating Meals that don't just "fill the gap" but feed your body and mind.
Knowing your limits and creating a healthy outlook on decision making (without guilt!).
Physical activity (in ANY form- go for a walk, move your arms as much as you can for two minutes, it counts!).
Body image boosts- going to the salon for a hair refresh (yas my hair looks boss), getting your nails done, having a mini spa day at home. (photoshoots to remind yourself how truly beautiful you are count too!)
Getting to know yourself better (and not judging yourself for what you like or don't like).
Learning to decompress without guilt after work (including taking a few hours without mommy guilt to focus JUST on yourself).
Bubbles baths, hot showers and mud masks, getting your nails done- yes all the girly things!
Meditating, or taking a few minutes to turn off the cell phone and just breathe.
Things that make you happy- and you can DIY it or put these priority things in your budget to keep youself feeling your BEST.
The point of self care is to start telling yourself that you are worthy of time. Your mindset can truly affect how you move throughout your day and it's time to start telling yourself BETTER things. "I'm valuable." "I'm worthy of recieving the love and devotion I show to others." "I'm beautiful and my body is worthy of this time."
So the next time you feel like throwing in the towel and giving up, crying, or feeling completely overburdened- just ask yourself...