It was Sunday night, and I was sitting comfortably on my couch surrounded by chocolate wrappers, blankets and a half-empty glass of wine. I was scrolling through Pinterest when an awful and unnecessary thought disrupted unusually my calm evening.
“I should really put a face mask on right now.”
It was quickly followed by a loud: “Ugh, and I need to shave the forest that’s currently growing on my calves.”
The whole draw of self-care is that it’s supposed to be an act of relaxing. But anytime I actually relax, I tend to feel guilty. Like relaxing wasn’t really relaxing unless I was doing some semi-productive.
Well here’s the thing we often forget: self-care looks different for everyone.
What Does Self Care Look Like?
For one girl it might be a papaya face mask and an hour-long bath. For another, it might be mindlessly surfing the internet for a few hours. And for me, in that moment, it was eating chocolate and watching The Office for the hundredth time.
Sometimes the act of self-care can feel less like an indulgence and more like a chore. And when that happens, all you need is a change in perspective to making taking care of yourself something you actually look forward to doing.
Self Care 101
Make sure you’re covering your basics.
If you’re feeling strung out and exhausted, the bubble baths need to be put on hold.
Self-care doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as we make it out to be. At its simplest definition, self-care is making sure we’re not sacrificing our basic needs in lieu of other people and responsibilities.
So ask yourself, are you eating three real meals a day? Are you sleeping enough? Are you giving yourself at least an hour or so to do nothing after a stressful day? Are you moving your body regularly?
Healthy isn’t about how you look, it’s about how you feel. Make sure you’re taking some time out every day to do something small that makes you feel good.
Make a plan to go for a walk around your neighborhood after work. Start carrying a water bottle around with you.
It’s the little changes and routines that will ultimately make us feel better.
Don’t just copy what you find on Pinterest.
Self-care is unique to you. While one side of it is taking care of your body and maintaining your health, you also have to do things regularly that make you happy.
Whether it’s reading a good book or going for a bike ride, you should aim to do something just for you at least once a week.
And it doesn’t have to be huge. Personally, I notice a huge difference in my mood on days when I wake up and listen to my favorite songs while getting ready for the day.
Let go of negative thoughts.
Another important aspect of self-care that we so often ignore is our mind. If you’re holding things in or not talking about something that’s stressing you out, it’s going to manifest in other ways.
Take some time to journal or call someone you trust and get whatever it is that’s stressing you out of your head. Often times our problems seem a lot bigger when we are the only ones who know about them.
I can promise you that the moment you say it out loud or write it down, you’ll realize that pretty much every obstacle we encounter is figureoutable.
And most importantly, go slow.
You’re not going to turn into a self-care guru overnight. Pick one new habit you want to adopt that involves taking care of either your mind, body or spirit and do it.
Then when you feel like you’ve got that habit locked down, add another one in. The more good things you add over time, the better you’ll feel.
And remember, self-care doesn’t have to be Instagram-worthy. If you’re feeling a night in where you binge of guilty pleasure shows and junk food then do it.
It’s easy to write off self-care as something we only do when we have “free time.” But if you don’t respect yourself enough to take time to make sure you feel good, who will?