Re-defining self-care: what is self-care, why and how it looks like?
What is self-care?
Put it simply, self-care is ‘self-love in action’. Although there are many definitions for self-care out there, I like the one used by Psych Central: ‘Self-care is defined as doing any activity deliberately to take care of ourselves at different levels – physically, emotionally, and mentally. Good self-care will help improve our mood and reduce anxiety’. However, I’d like to add a fourth dimension to it, which is taking care of our spiritual side, too. Nurturing these four dimensions will help us shine through and we will then inevitably experience freedom and self-love. We can also make the analogy with learning to re-parent ourselves.
I often see a tendency to refer to self-care as focusing most of the efforts on our physical body. And I truly believe it goes far beyond the physical bit. I consider mental health key in our self-care practice, because this is an inner journey, from the inside out. It involves showing up for yourself every single day. And it is especially relevant to take care of our own health and well-being during periods of stress and anxiety because it is then when one would probably feel less inclined to practice self-care but it is when is most needed.
I view self-care as a pleasant and nourishing activity. It definitely does not need to feel like a chore! Trust me, if it feels like it, we won’t enjoy it and it won’t be sustainable over time. Thus, don’t forget to add some fun in your self-care routines and don’t be too strict on yourself! Rather, show some love to taking care of yourself while you are learning to find the balance between patience and that push you need in order to grow as a person! Allow for flexibility, experimenting and learning! It’s a path of consciousness and choice where we practice courage, compassion and connection along the way. It is like being your biggest cheerleader! Sounds good?
Why practicing self-care?
Well, that is simple. We need self-care to improve our overall well-being, health, contentment and satisfaction with ourselves and with life. Don’t we?
With self-care, we learn to stay in tune with ourselves, we learn to develop a good relationship with ourselves and consequently with others without sacrificing our health, our well-being and our worth. It helps us to feel good with ourselves and to increase the mind-body-soul connection, which often feels quite disconnected in this ‘hustle culture’ where everyone just seems to be on an automatic pilot juggling between family, work, and other life responsibilities. Do you agree?
But more importantly, I see self-care as a means to get to know ourselves better and ultimately allow our true powerful self to be deeply seen and expressed so we can thrive in life. It is clearly a process of self-discovery. So, in our self-care journey we need to be able to understand and discern from what we need, what we want, what best serves us, and how we can honor our well-being. Because having this clarity will be so empowering in our self-care and well-being journey. And having this self-knowledge and freedom to choose consciously will help us figure out what works for each of us and on what terms – especially if we want to connect with the feeling of self-love. It is certainly a unique and individual experience!
How self-care looks like?
Self-care may take a variety of forms depending on what needs are being satisfied and when – so it will be different for each individual and circumstance. I conceive self-care as a process that requires patience, a lot of self-compassion, treating ourselves with a lot of respect for our own journey and trusting ourselves. Because we know best what we need and when if we are able to listen to ourselves and develop more self-awareness of what is going on with ourselves. And each self-care experience is unique. But this journey also requires embracing our imperfection. We are not striving for perfection here, we aim to make progress so we can feel self-realization with ourselves. To me, self-care also needs to be practiced from a place of worthiness – what Brené Brown refers to ‘wholeheartedness’. As Brené Brown puts it, it means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection, and to wake up in the morning and think ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough’. It’s going to bed at night thinking ‘Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging’. If you haven’t read Brené’s work you need to read her books! They are super TOP!
Self-compassion – the big word! It involves treating yourself gently, warmly and kindly when you make a mistake, fail or experience a setback. Learning to be compassionate will help us find that balance. The better we are at accepting ourselves and others, the more compassionate we become. And this is something we will achieve by setting boundaries. Put it simply, it is doing our best with what we have and recognizing that personal failures are part of the shared humanity too.
Below I outline some examples of self-care practices so you can get inspired! But you should be able to find what works for you, as you are a unique being that require different things at different moments. And what may work for you, might not work for me.
Some examples of self-care practices:
-Detox from cell phone and social media
-Hang out with people who are not toxic
-Practice kindly and positive self-talk
-Practice gratitude and positive affirmations
-Being present / mindfulness
-Have a pampering bath
-Massaging different parts of your body
-Eating nourishing and delicious food
-Good quality sleep
-Surround yourself with beauty
-Practice mindful and intuitive eating
-Using essential oils for different purposes
-Read interesting books
-Watch inspiring videos
-Walks in nature
-Exfoliating your body
-Managing adequately your energy
-Observing your thoughts and feelings
-Paying attention to your body cues
-Embracing your emotions
-Letting go of the past
Happy self-care for everyone! I’m excited to know how self-care looks like for you! 🙂
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