Self-care isn’t direct -it’s multi-faceted, and is most successful when treated as such. Like a diamond that’s been pushed down time and time again while feeling the pressure of the world, to finally becoming one of the most precious gemstones that refuses to break -we too require the love and care needed to shine so brightly.
Diamonds aren’t a girl’s best friend, self-care is.
You’re the diamond, Sister!
The thing is, self-care has become just another thing most women are expected to be great at, or it’s assumed to be something we naturally know how to do, but that’s not the case -whatsoever. We aren’t born understanding what self-care is; as children, our environment teaches us the definition of self-care or lack thereof -not to say you should place blame elsewhere just that you should be kind to yourself. Remember, our happiness and growth is our responsibility. It’s up to us to take responsibility for how we treat ourselves as well the lessons we are giving our children. My daughter watches and learns from me. Eventually, she will mimic my self-care actions -that is all the motivation I need to take this part of my life seriously because not only will it make me feel better but it will teach her valuable life lessons.
The definition of self-care to me is when you deliberately take the time to focus on and care for yourself as an individual. You have your personal self-care, physical self-care, emotional self-care, social self-care, spiritual self-care, and practical self-care needs –seems like a lot doesn’t it, but don’t worry because it’s all about balance! Self-care isn’t just working out and getting your hair done, self-care has to be implemented in all aspects of your life so that you can remain healthy and happy as a whole.
The critical thing to remember is that self-care isn’t cut and dry – it’s unique as each person is and this may be why so many have such a hard time maintaining or balancing their self-care needs successfully. You may be focusing all of your energy into your diet and career because that’s what you think you need but are forgetting about your desire for community and those relaxing road trips you love so much. Or, you may feel great about your physical self-care habits because you naturally like to exercise and eat healthy foods and that’s all you need, but forget that there’s so much more to your physical self than giving your body the nutrients and maintaining your body. Your sexuality, for example, is another way to care for yourself physically and is as important as working out, eating nutritious foods, dressing the way you want to, or exceptional hygiene.
Ask yourself, “What do I need to do to take better care of ME?”
It may seem overwhelming to think that there are many sides to properly caring for yourself -especially if you’re having a rough time already. If you have a lot to do – you’re worth it, and you’re not alone – forgive yourself often and love yourself, struggles and all.
Now, let’s go over the many sides of self-care and perhaps you’ll see something that you could give more time and focus.
Tell yourself “BALANCE NOT PERFECTION,” an expression to remember when practicing self-care, don’t spend all of your time worrying about one thing, dabble throughout and see what that does for you.
Being a friend to yourself.
Not letting yourself quit.
Trying new things.
Pushing yourself to reach your goals.
Realizing your self-worth.
Personal self-care is as it seems -it’s personal! You should become friends with yourself and treat yourself how you treat others. Learn to love yourself for who you are and then discover what else there is under the surface -your quirks, your passions, your requirements, your needs, your skills. You try new things because you want to find out more about yourself and show yourself love by going out of your comfort zone to grow.
Learn how to play chess, crochet, or start a blog! Take something that you’re fascinated about and dive into it yourself, let yourself be passionate about your happiness. Perhaps the moment you step out of your comfort zone you find your dream career -wouldn’t that be something? Personal self-care is when you make goals and then respect yourself enough to follow through with those said goals. You encourage your friends yes? Be sure you do the same for yourself.
Eating healthy foods.
Taking pride in your personal appearance.
Physical self-care is probably one of the most known forms of self-care and because of that remains the go-to for getting to a happier place. There’s a reason why so many experts say we need to -working out and eating right has been proven to be one of the most important things you can do for your overall health!
Make sure that you set time aside to care for your image as well because when you look good, you feel good. Don’t assume that just because you’re disheveled and haven’t had time to go to the hair salon that you should be disgusted with yourself -absolutely do NOT do that. Caring for your hair, skin, and dressing the way that makes you feel good and should be a priority but you need to be kind. Pampering yourself with trips to the hair salon or health spa is beautiful, but it’s not necessary. Finding yourself an excellent at-home conditioning treatment or facial cream is perfect. Sneak away while your kids are with dad and lock yourself in the bathroom. That’s what I do, works like a charm!
Do you make sure to see your physician and your dentist semi-annually for check-ups and cleanings? Visiting the dentist is a part of my self-care regime that needs work, but recently (because of a dental emergency) I pushed past my anxieties and found a dentist I could trust and discuss my debilitating fears with comfortably. After a few weeks, I am already noticing a complete turnaround when it comes to that area of my life, I feel good and am looking forward to my next visit. That’s what self-care is meant to do!
Sex! Your sexuality is another aspect of your physical self that requires care as well! Sexuality is a beautiful part of who we are as women; we deserve passion and intensity -we deserve orgasms. When you look in the mirror do you shy away from looking at your breasts or curves or do you feel confident and embrace the woman in front of you? After children, it can be hard to get back to a place where sex is comfortable, or you feel sexy again, but that means you need a little more care. I think every woman at one point or another feels like sex isn’t a priority -I’m here to say that it is and that you should be enjoying it! I’ll repeat it -we deserve orgasms!
Giving your senses your undivided attention.
Being in the present moment is a self-care practice that isn’t always the easiest for me. Have you ever made it a point to focus on how many distractions we create for ourselves on any given day? For me, this means putting the television on for background noise or mindlessly going from one app to another on my cell phone instead of being fully present.
Removing distractions and giving our senses undivided attention is a form of self-care that we all need to practice daily. Next time that you’re sitting outside in the warm sun lay back and close your eyes -feel your breath, as well as the sun’s rays, touching your skin, what noises do you hear in the distance, what smells?
Maybe there’s something that calms your senses and brings you back to the moment so that you can focus? One thing that I’ve done since childhood is sitting on the floor heater or next to a fireplace wrapped up in a blanket. It gives me goosebumps, and the warmth calms my nerves. Maybe you find comfort laying in bed under a heavy comforter pulled over your head? Sit on the edge of a dock with your feet hanging in the water? Hiking to the top of a mountain so that you can feel the wind in your hair? Think of ways that you can console your senses and give them your undivided attention.
Addressing your feelings.
A form of self-care that needs much attention is taking the time to develop our emotional intelligence. When we take the time and become more aware of our emotions and the emotions of others, we can learn how to process them in healthier ways. This empathy gives you the ability to manage events differently as well as react more appropriately regardless of other another’s actions. When our feelings are clear, and under control, we can start to feel better about ourselves as well as how we interact with those around us.
Reading self-help books, talking to a therapist, taking an online psychology college course are all ways to develop your emotional intelligence. Addressing your present and past feelings are essential for your growth. Don’t attempt to ignore your emotions – take the time to care for them instead. Emotional self-care is learning how to maintain healthy relationships that are important to us and how to handle stressful situations in healthy ways. As someone who is extremely sensitive and highly emotional, this is a form of self-care that I make time for daily -therapy here I come!
Social self-care is when you take control of the situations that you put yourself in whether it’s with your family, coworkers, or friends.
For example, you know that every time you come back from “Amy’s” house that you’ll feel self-conscious of your looks or second-guess your parenting because her backhanded comments get to you. Perhaps there’s a small clique at work that you would like to be social with, but once you enter their social circle, you realize the majority of their time is spent badmouthing other coworkers, and it makes you feel uncomfortable. These two situations are examples of where social self-care needs to become a priority. Be honest with yourself and set appropriate boundaries with those who make you feel bad. You want to interact with people that make you feel better, not worse.
If you want to have a better relationship with someone but don’t know where to start -focus on your emotional self-care needs and develop stronger emotional intelligence. When you feel like you can, go back to that situation and understand why you let ‘Amy’ talk to you that way. Empathize with the fact that maybe she’s the one who is self-conscious or has to put down others to feel better about herself; the next visit will provide a situation where you can work through both of your emotions healthily.
You are allowed to set boundaries with the ones you love too. Don’t set yourself up for failure by doing things you know you shouldn’t or will have a hard time doing. When you assign all of your energy to those you socialize with how will there be enough left for your self-care? If you have things, you need to finish but still want to go out with your friends, set a time limit and respect yourself enough to leave once that time is up. If you have a group text going that keeps distracting you from work or home, let your friends know that you’re silencing your notifications and you will have to get back to them later.
Strengthening your belief system.
Challenging your spiritual ideas.
Remember that self-care encompasses taking care of our mind, body, and soul. Focusing on and strengthening your belief system is a way to find peace and comfort even when everything else seems to be falling apart. If you have an active belief system and you find yourself too busy and haven’t nurtured that part of you as much as you would like, I’m sure you understand me when I say that it can make you feel like a huge part of you is missing. Praying, meditation, reading books that strengthen your beliefs, getting involved with your community, and rituals are all forms of spiritual self-care.
Challenging your religious ideas is another way to care for yourself which may seem odd. Remember before when I mentioned that part of personal self-care was pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone and learning new things? Talk to someone who has a different religion or belief system and ask questions -this type of interaction will increase your emotional intelligence, open your mind, and help strengthen relationships.
Practical self-care is the adulting side of the self-care gem that we sometimes wish we didn’t have to do at times. You go on without me, I’ll sleep in and ignore the outside world -and please come back with ice cream and wine. Nope. It’s essential that we care about our responsibilities as parents/adults as much as we focus on our other self-care needs.
If you are spending more money than you should -take the time to create a budget and care for yourself enough to stick with it. Do you know the ins and outs of your family finances? If something happened tomorrow -heaven forbid- would you feel confident enough to take charge of the situation and keep your family afloat? Practical self-care is doing what must be done to be a rock for your family. If you’re spacing due dates and always forget to pay your bills on time -download an excellent planner app onto your cell phone and keep it updated. Canceling your children’s activities because you can’t keep up with your schedule? Retweak and reprioritize! You don’t take care of yourself by smothering yourself with mom guilt.
Don’t keep your essential chores on the back burner, if you know that going to bed with the sink clear of dishes makes you happy and helps alleviate stress, take ten minutes and tackle them. Maintaining your living space and caring for your property is essential too. You don’t have to get on yourself for taking a few days off from chores but if your anything like me -once the house is a disaster I can’t even think straight! Organizing your home, living a minimalist lifestyle, and setting a day or two aside each weel to deep clean your house are perfect examples of practicing self-care.
Practical self-care is looking at the parts of your life that you see as a burden or an annoyance and start thinking of them as blessings!
You’re going riddle yourself with anxiety and guilt if you choose to let yourself ignore overdue bills, appointments, phone calls, debts, and other duties that we must face as adults. Practical self-care is facing the fact that there are parts of our lives that must not be ignored and must be handled. Taking the time to heal those parts of your life will give you such high confidence!
Sometimes we can fall behind when it comes to practical self-care or we have bad habits that are hard to break -it’s important to recognize how we would like to change and then make improvements!
Sometimes, what I fear the most is for women to get this idea that self-care is some selfish trend – a narcissistic trait that makes mother’s selfish because they’re not using all their resources on their family.
That’s the last thing self-care is.
What self-care is, is thinking long-term. It’s a form of preventative healthcare. Self-care is understanding and acknowledging your self-worth. Often self-care is an immediate action that can turn a shitty day into a pleasant one. It’s how we keep our cup full and take care of our children and spouse the way we desperately want to. Self-care allows us to perform at our best while reaching for then meeting our goals. Self-care isn’t negotiable it’s a necessity.
We are that diamond, and the many facets of self-care are the tools allowing us to shine our brightest.
It can be challenging at first to face these needs of ours and initiate change, but over time these deliberate actions that make you happy will become second-nature. Before I made self-growth and development one of my top priorities I had a tough time staying on track and keeping my thoughts positive -I admit, I’m not perfect, and even now there will be times when I’m having a hard time balancing all that I need. What makes me successful even when I can’t recognize it within myself is that I never stop trying and understand that there is always work to do.
I know the work makes positive impacts and the best version of myself is a worthy reward!