Something that I really wanted to prioritize this year, starting a new chapter, in a new environment was my own healing process, which entails a lot of self-care.
People want to know all about self-care, and of course they do because once you find out that there’s this magical thing that can make your life better, of course you want to jump on that train.
But people are like “I don’t … How do I … I don’t have time.” News flash, if you’re one of those people who feels like you don’t have time for self-care, then you’re really in need of self-care. As a recovering overachiever, I totally understand what you’re feeling, so I want to talk about it.
Step 1 to practicing self-care is letting yourself know that you deserve it. YOU deserve it.
So self-care is basically any set of practices that makes you feel nourished, whether that’s physically, emotionally, spiritually, all of the above. Self-care is putting aside time to recharge in a way that’s meaningful to you, and that can mean different things to different people.
I’m actually really introverted, which means that I find rejuvenation in activities that centre quiet, calm, and introspection. Others who are extroverted may find it refreshing to be in environments that are active, energetic, and social. Some people fall somewhere in the middle. What’s important is recognizing that what might work for some people might not work for you.
For example, when I’m feeling lonely, anxious or overwhelmed, what’s works best for me to get back to a neutral place are activities like taking a walk on the beach, meditation, yoga, journaling, going to the farmer’s market , a bubble bath, stuff like that. But I have a lot of extroverted friends.
When they know that I need self-care, they’ll text me “Hey, do you want to grab a drink? You want to do such and such social thing?” And I’m like “No, not even a little bit actually.” But for some people what they need at the end of a stressful day is to go out for a couple of drinks and vent, hence why happy hour exists, and none of these options are right or wrong. It’s really just about finding what works for you.
Figuring out what works for you, can be one of the biggest hurdles to self-care because it’s not something that we sit down and reflect about a lot. But the problem is that if we don’t already have a list of self-care activities that we know are going to work for us, sometimes, we’ll just pick one at random that isn’t actually all that helpful. One way to think through a self-care plan is to ask yourself who, what, and where make you feel safe and supported.
Who are the people that you can surround yourself with who will make you feel supported?
What are some activities that you can do that bring you a sense of calm, and where are the places that you can go to feel safe and comfortable? For example, earlier when I was talking about introversion I gave you a list of activities that are useful to me to find self-care, but what about the people and relationships….
I frequently reflect on the relationships in my life and actually hand pick the ones that I want to nourish. I actually sit down and choose a group of people who I want to be my support system, and I re-evaluate as necessary. I make sure that toxic people are no longer in my life, and I prioritize the relationships that help me grow. Remembering that it’s up to you who is a part of your life and who isn’t is actually a really powerful aspect of self-care.
So my take home message on self-care is making a list of 5 things that you can do sitting at your desk or wherever you are that will calm you down when you’re feeling stressed. My list is breath, move, gratitude list, tea, getting into nature. Five really simple things that can help calm me down when I’m in a state of anxiety.
The only rules are that they have to be something that you can do in the moment. You can’t put on your list go get a massage or take a vacation, because usually those aren’t available to you in the middle of the day.
Self-care really isn’t something that takes a lot of time, which is what I think most people think. It can be as easy as consciously choosing who you spend your lunch hour with. It can be remembering to take a 10-minute break in the middle of the day to go for a walk or to do some breathing exercises. It can be as simple as promising yourself that you won’t do homework on the weekends. It can be starting every morning with a cup of tea or watching the sunrise. It can be whatever works for you.
But it’s psychologically necessary. You need to take care of yourself. You need to prioritize yourself because you deserve to be prioritized. Self-care is one small step towards self-acceptance and self-love, and cultivating self-love is so, so important because holding yourself in respect and honour and compassion is a really beautiful, powerful thing.
It’s the only love guaranteed to you in life.