This year, pledge to care for yourself in truly meaningful ways.
Self-care, though not a new concept, has recently become a buzzword. But what does it really mean?
As the new year began, maybe you resolved to practice more self-care. With so much information and so many products competing for your attention, sometimes it’s hard to know where to start.
These do’s and don’ts of self-care will help you as you go.
While there are times when it’s totally appropriate to buy yourself something, self-care doesn’t always require it. Pause to discern whether you really need something, or if you’re only trying to stifle feelings of discomfort with retail therapy. Be skeptical of products advertised as though they’re going to bring you instant peace, or of the thought that as soon as you have the item you’re eyeing, then you’ll finally feel better.
How can you give yourself proper care if you don’t actually know what you need? Take the time to check in with yourself each day. Your feelings will naturally guide you to your true needs. Today I’m feeling anxious because I need my own space. This week I’m feeling bored because I need inspiration. In this moment, I’m feeling sad because I need acceptance. You’re a dynamic person who’s constantly changing. Taking a little time each day to get to know yourself will help you stay connected to what makes you feel most cared for.
Never underestimate the power of a balanced meal, a good night’s sleep, or a shower. When we’re busy or depressed, it’s easy to let these basic needs fall by the wayside, but the effect they can have on our moods is powerful.
Part of caring for yourself is acknowledging that you can’t do everything by yourself. There’s never shame in enlisting the help of others. Give a friend, a family member, a babysitter, a therapist, or whomever you need, the chance to be there for you.
I’d be lying if I said I’ve never spent ages scrolling through Instagram after a long day at work. However, even though mindless scrolling or binge-watching is easy, it’s not always what’s beneficial. Too much time on your device is soul-depleting, especially if you end up comparing yourself with “perfect” images or getting lost in a spiral of appalling news stories. Remember to unplug often.
When strapped for self-care ideas, go back to your five senses. Hug a furry pet or blanket. Look at your favorite painting. Taste a cup of your favorite tea. Breathe in the scent of fresh flowers. Listen to the woosh of ocean waves.
For some, a lavender-scented bubble bath would be very relaxing. But maybe the smell of lavender gives you a headache, or turning pruny in the tub isn’t your idea of fun. It’s okay to be honest with yourself when something that’s supposed to be relaxing doesn’t relax you. You’re unique – your self-care will be, too.
To care for yourself, you don’t need to stay at a five-star resort. Meditation, gratitude lists, deep conversations, hugs, journaling sessions, positive affirmations, tidying your space, and listening to your favorite song are all examples of simple self-care strategies that don’t cost a cent.
“Self care is never a selfish act — it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others.” — Parker Palmer
What self-care strategies do you rely on to replenish yourself? Share them with us in the comments!