What Is Self Care?
This seems like it shouldn’t be a hard question to answer, but our overworked and consumerist world has offered some complicated and not always helpful answers. Self Care is exactly what it sounds like—taking care of yourself. It has taken on a newer meaning that sometimes comes across as finding ways to be more productive, or spoiling yourself with an indulgent treat. There are certainly places for that in the spectrum of what counts as Self Care, but the first thing to consider is what you want and need. Those of us who have demanding jobs, who are caring for others in various ways, or who live to be in service of their friends, families, and community may often forget to practice Self Care until they hit a wall, or someone suggests to them that maybe some of that energy they are pouring out toward other people and things needs to be redirected toward themselves once in a while.
How To Do It
Give yourself an uninterrupted moment to be still, breathe deeply, and check in with your body, mind, and spirit. What do you need right now? Are you hungry, thirsty, sleepy? Do you need to stretch, go for a walk, talk to someone who will listen, pray?
What do you want right now? What kind of exercise or other physical activity have you not done for a while that you miss? What hobby do you enjoy but you’ve been neglecting? What person have you been thinking about but haven’t been in touch with? When was the last time your wrote in your journal, or just gave yourself permission to sit and watch the world go by from your window, a park bench, or your garden?
Sometimes people feel they don’t have enough time to practice Self Care. If you feel this way, you can try creating a morning or evening routine that gives you some time to nourish your soul. Even 5 minutes spent meditating, writing a quick journal entry, doing stretches, or having a cup of your favorite drink while not doing anything else can be restorative. On the other hand, if your life is already scheduled down to 5-minute intervals, blocking out some time when you let your schedule go and do whatever you like on your own terms can be nurturing.
In Self Care, the focus is on YOU. Remember that you are worthy of time spent on yourself. You are deserving of it. It doesn’t need to be expensive, unhealthy, or complicated.
If you’re stumped about how to start, here is a list of possible Self Care activities to consider.
Eat something healthy
Do some structured exercise, like yoga or pilates
Play a game by yourself or with others
Draw or paint
Wrap up in a blanket
Call a friend
Drink your favorite warm drink
Do a ritual for yourself
Create a morning or evening routine
Eat a meal you enjoy
Walk on the beach or in a forest
Watch a favorite movie again, or a new one you’ve been meaning to see
Write in a journal
Go outside and watch the clouds or stars (or both)
Go to bed early
Set a goal and make a plan to achieve it
Attend a counseling session or support group
Try a new hobby
Meditate or try guided imagery (search YouTube for ideas)
Go for a walk, bike ride, or drive
Make a doctor’s appointment you’ve been putting off
Cook something from scratch
Choose a small space or drawer and declutter it
Read, watch, or listen to something from a genre you don’t usually choose
Set up a personal altar, or spend time with the one you already have
Write a letter to a friend or relative
Write a letter you aren’t going to send, but that helps you release stuck feelings
Sit and listen to the sounds of nature
Make a list of what you are grateful for
Sit quietly at home
Turn off your phone
Take a social media break
Talk with someone who makes you feel calm and comfortable
Remind yourself that you have a right to take time and make space to practice Self Care
Forgive yourself for whatever you think needs forgiving
Talk to yourself, with kindness
Watch a sunrise or sunset
Wear your favorite clothes, or find a place you can appropriately get naked
Do a divination
As long as what you choose is something that nurtures you, you can’t do Self-Care wrong. Take Care of your Self!