Self-care has become a bit of a buzz word lately, especially over the last few months because of COVID. Typically the image that comes to mind is a bubble bath or a mud mask. It often gets this stereotype and is then placed in a category that we often think, “oh well that’s just not for me.”
But self-care is more than that, it takes a little bit of work.
Self-care goes hand-in-hand with taking care of our health, including our mental health. It looks different for everyone! What works for your friend may not work for you, and that’s okay.
Currently there is a growing acceptance of taking care of our mental health and normalizing therapy. We see it in the news and across social media. Usually these messages are tagged with celebrities talking about their mental health (because they’re just like us!) or with a graphic that says, “it’s okay to not be okay.”
These messages usually come across as squeaky clean and typically are after the messiness of self-care. The work it takes to maintain our health is something that consistently gets overlooked, because we only see the best of everything! We have to remember that these are more than just images on a screen. There are people, real people, who are experiencing life during their high and lows.
Part of self-care is creating and cultivating experiences that make us feel good. Ultimately this gives us the self-confidence to want what is best for ourselves. Creating this tool box will better prepare us for when we face hardships and discomfort. We will have these things to fall back on and remind us that we can make it through.
Self-care is more than just a bubble bath, it’s about growth. A lot of times it’s uncomfortable at first.
Here is a compiled list of things to add to your self-care tool box, if you don’t practice them already. Remember that if it doesn’t work for you right away or at all, that’s okay! Everyone is different and it’s important to do what’s best for you.
Move your body everyday.
This is on every list, which is not surprising because of the benefits exercise can have your mental health. Try and move somehow someway, everyday. It doesn’t have to be hard or a lot! Just a simple stretch will do. Sometimes our bodies have to feel good in order for our minds to feel good.
Unfollow toxic social media accounts.
You know what I’m talking about, the accounts that make you feel not so good about yourself. Follow accounts that don’t always show you the best of everything, or support your beliefs. A lot of times they can serve as a place to learn something new or be a support system!
Read or journal 30 min before bed and unplug.
Literally, unplug. Put your phone away and if you can shut it off. Whatever is going to help you get a good night’s sleep and help you let go of the day’s events. Maybe you read one night and journal the next, maybe you do both! Whichever you choose, either one will nurture your mind and prepare you for the next day.
Practice positive self-talk
Your inner monologue can be your best friend or your worst enemy. I’m sure, actually, I KNOW you have read somewhere or someone told you to be kinder to yourself. This is perhaps the hardest one on the list yet one of the most important. Talk to yourself with empathy and understanding like you would to a friend, or your dog. Practice being non-judgmental of yourself and eventually it will become a habit. This is one piece of self-care we should all practice daily.
Do the hard thing
Make yourself do the things you don’t want to do. Part of self-care is looking beyond the present moment and setting future you up for success. We all have somewhat of an idea of what makes us feel good and what doesn’t. So, start by asking yourself what a good day for you would look like, and if you want to have a good day.
Invest in you
This one took me ages to learn, also I’m not talking about buying a brand new car to put you in debt or the ‘treat yourself’ mindset ( that has its place just not here). I’m talking about things or experiences that will make you a better you. This can be therapy, a new plant, taking a class, buying organic/healthy food, or a new soap that just makes you feel really good about yourself.
For far too long I would always choose the cheaper or more affordable option of something I wanted. I did this because it’s what I felt like I deserved and all I could afford, even if the cheaper option wasn’t necessarily good for me.
I felt like I didn’t deserve to purchase myself high end products or afford that subscription of supplements because of the price tag.
Over time I realized that if I was setting this expectation of giving myself less than I deserved, so was everyone else!
This list is a compilation of things that I found work well for me. My hope is that by sharing this information it may help you too. Remember self-care is important work and it is not always pretty! But it is always important.