What is self-care? With all of things I go through, work frustration or relationship sadness or frustration, I find comfort in self-care. I have even suggested it as a way to cope with a break-up to some of my friends. It really makes a difference. For me though, the definition of self-care is taking that time to pamper yourself – get your nails done, an extra long pedicure, or a massage. For some people, that may just be part of their regular self-care routine and it isn’t extraordinary and therefore might not make them feel better, which prompted me to think about other aspects of self-care. I broke it down into physical, emotional, personal, social, spiritual, and practical self-care. I will caution this by saying, I am no expert, these are just my opinions on how you can take care of yourself when you’re not really feeling like yourself.
This encompasses your basic physical needs. Sometimes, if I’m angry, going for a run is the only thing that will make me feel better. Maybe my mind is running around in circles and I’m overthinking something (shocking!), and yoga is the best way to re-center myself and clear my mind and chakras. Pampering your body and just simply doing what feels good is part of physical self-care as well. Does a massage help you relax and work things out in your head? Or maybe help you not think about anything at all? For me, when I have a multi-day migraine a massage is the only thing that can clear it up. Having a pedicure that is like the deluxe edition – hot oil etc. – will often be my go-to when I’m not feeling so great. Identify what works for you and have no hesitation in taking those steps to make yourself feel better!
This is identifying the best way to process emotions in a healthy way, figuring out what your good coping mechanisms are. Does meditation help you? There are so many great guided meditations on YouTube. I highly recommend exploring that option, not only will it help you think about something else, but these meditations will guide you back to the right train of though in case your thoughts go astray – which is likely to happen while meditating. Spirituality is also a good way to process emotions in a healthy way – if that is something you believe in and practice. Also, don’t be afraid to feel your feelings…just don’t live there for too long. I strongly believe that there is nothing wrong with a really good ugly cry. But have it, be in it, and then wipe your tears and say, “that felt great, but I can’t live here.” If another way of coping emotionally is seeing your therapist or calling a friend who is just a great listener, then by all means confide in those people as well!
Some activities in the personal self-care area can be getting to know yourself in a different way. After a really bad break-up, I decided that I needed to shed some relationship weight so I got a trainer, signed up for a half marathon and discovered a new part of me who really enjoyed going to the gym, and wasn’t intimidated to grab weights and workout on the gym floor with others. It really helped me get out of my funk and begin the path forward. Trying new things – so I haven’t necessarily been a “cook,” and my mom would make fun of me in high school and college because I basically had no desire to cook – so who would want to marry me?! Anyway, with the introduction of at-home delivery of fresh produce and recipes I have discovered how much I enjoy cooking. It’s something I look forward to, and is very satisfying in the end. I’m one of those people who love to follow instructions and have an end product, so BlueApron is a great new thing that I’ve tried and enjoyed. Spending time alone is another personal self-care option. For some people this might be a bad idea, but if you have children or are involved with your family a lot, have a really busy social life, spending some time alone might be just the thing you need to reset and recharge. Making time for hobbies you enjoy is another personal self-care item that I think is often thrown off to the side. If you love to write (like me!) or draw, paint, read etc., then do it and make time for it! It really is a therapeutic task. Last but not least, have goals for yourself. Especially if they can directly relate back to self-care. Are your finances stressing you out? Set a goal to set aside something simple like 5 bucks a week. It will help feel like you’re making progress.
For some people this might not work. But, not getting enough social interaction is also a bad thing. I have realized how important social self-care is now that I work from home about 95% of the time. Even if it’s just getting out to run to the bank, it’s good! But in the same token, social interaction can be a little toxic with some people and that’s where having really good boundaries is important. I’ve talked about my issues with drawing boundaries in past blog posts, and I still struggle with it, but ensuring that someone isn’t going to drag you down with them, or impact how you feel personally is so very important. Create those boundaries and hold them to it – it is good for YOU!
I talked a tiny little bit about this when we were discussing coping mechanisms, but if you are spiritual it’s important to take self-care in that area as well. If you’re confused about your beliefs, take the time to really figure it out. Read books about spirituality and prayer. I have found that many of the fellow bloggers that I follow frequently share books they are reading on prayer or their beliefs, or some of their bible study groups, so that is a way to engage in spiritual self-care.
So this is doing things that are practical, but very much impactful. Getting your finances in order, completing chores…I feel so accomplished when I do really mundane things like vacuum the stairs, or clean the bathroom. For the short period of time it takes to complete those tasks, you can enjoy the result for multiple days. Of course, something else that lands under practical self-care is to set healthy work boundaries. Now that I work from home I have moments where I think – wow I haven’t stepped outside in 10 hours. If healthy work boundaries means stepping outside to go for a walk and clear your head, or checking your last email at 6 pm and not again until the next morning, then amen to you because that is a very practical self-care thing to do – and something I need to practice myself. Healthy work boundaries is also an area I struggled with in the past. Sometimes it’s hard when you become close friends with the people you work with to identify where your boundaries are – so take some time to really think about it and see what works for you and you work relationships.
I wanted to write this blog post, as I mentioned before, because I truly think self-care is important. As I began to write about it and search around a bit. I found that there were multiple ways to self-care, so I hope that by my sharing this you are inspired to start treating yourself to some self-care. Likewise, I hope that it reinforces the importance of continuing to treat yourself with the utmost care and consideration.