Self-Care Shouldn’t Feel Like Hard Work
Self-care has become a popular term in recent years. It’s often encouraged as part of a balanced and healthy lifestyle. We see “Self-Care Sunday” trending on social media and “self-care gifts” advertised by online retailers. When we think of self-care, we may envision an Instagram model with a sunny smile on her face eating a smoothie bowl. Of course, she’s getting ready to head to her next yoga class, where she will later post flawless selfies of herself effortlessly posing.
Aaaand…..CUT! Let’s snap back to reality. Picture a woman with a messy bun in sweatpants and a hoodie sitting in her SUV. She’s drinking a Starbucks and listening to music. That’s more like it. Hey, this isn’t exactly the “self-care aesthetic” you might have had in mind, but it's real. She’s just taking a breather before she picks up her kids from daycare. Sometimes self-care is as simple as that. The important thing is that this woman recognized she needed a few minutes to herself, and she took them. She’s taking care of herself. That’s the whole point.
The truth is, self-care isn’t always that glamorous.
Real self-care isn’t just an “aesthetic” or an Instagram hashtag.
The Oxford Dictionary’s definition of self-care is “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress” and “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.”
There are many misconceptions out there about self-care. Let’s break down some of the inaccurate messages we may have unknowingly picked up from the movement as it’s evolved throughout the years.
Self-Care Isn’t Something You Check off Your to-Do List
Self-care isn’t something that you schedule for the end of your day when you finally get to relax. It’s a state of mind. Self-care is remaining mindful of how you feel throughout the day and making adjustments as necessary. In a way, it’s the art of taking care of yourself and a part of the choices you make moment-by-moment.
It’s deciding when you need to stop and relax- recognizing when you’ve reached your limit. It’s all about managing and prioritizing yourself so that you don’t end up having a meltdown. At that point, you have bigger problems.
Learning to be mindful of how you treat yourself and readjusting your thinking is part of the process.
Self-Care Shouldn't Cause Anxiety
When you start pressuring yourself or feeling guilty is when self-care becomes toxic. This is the exact opposite of what we want to achieve. Forcing yourself to do self-care activities is when it starts feeling like work. This can even cause anxiety, especially for people with Type-A personalities! Please don’t be hard on yourself!
If you make it a goal to meditate for 20 minutes a day but don’t have the energy or focus to get it done, be kind to yourself. Maybe you need to start with 5 minutes a day. Or, try doing it three times a week. Perhaps you need to skip a day because you are busy or sleep-deprived. That’s okay!
Some people find that when they approach self-care like a task they absolutely MUST accomplish, they beat themselves up. This attitude is not really addressed in the self-care movement. When self-care starts to feel like hard work or is causing anxiety, then it's time to reevaluate your approach to it.
Examine the messages you received in your childhood. Does self-care make you feel guilty or selfish? Do you start pressuring yourself or becoming perfectionistic? If you’re beating yourself up, then you’re going about it the wrong way. If you feel like a parent is hovering over you, then you’re doing it all wrong. Be gentle with yourself.
Meet Your Basic Needs First
It’s important that your basic needs are being met. Like sleep. You’re not a robot. Self-care isn’t a luxury. It’s a necessity. You owe it to your family to take care of yourself so you can be present with them and be your best self for them. Women often feel like they need to do it all and feel guilty prioritizing themselves.
Go ahead and tell a new mom if she just journals or meditates for 20 minutes a day, she’ll feel a lot better. It’s not that simple. You can’t just read some motivational self-care quotes and snap yourself into zen mode when what you really need is a long shower.
A helpful technique is to treat yourself as if you are someone you love. Imagine if your partner or child is exhausted. You’d tell them to get some rest and see if they need anything, periodically checking in on them.
When you ignore your needs until you collapse, you end up with a bigger problem. So do your loved ones a favor and take care of yourself.
Self-Care is Setting Boundaries
Sometimes self-care is saying, “NO.” It’s when someone calls and asks you to host the family holiday dinner like you do every year, and you say no simply because you have too much on your plate right now. It’s when you say no to last-minute plans because you know you’re stretching yourself too thin. When your boss asks you to come in and work an extra day that you planned to take off and you say no, that’s self-care.
Self-care is setting healthy boundaries. It’s not just setting boundaries with other people. It’s setting boundaries with yourself. When you are setting impossible standards for yourself, it’s an indication that you need to be more gentle with yourself.
You Can’t Have Self-Care Without Self-Love
Self-care and self-love are intertwined. When you treat yourself with love and compassion, self-care is a natural byproduct of that. For example, maybe you would like to treat yourself to a spa day. You can afford it, but you don’t feel worthy of it. In that case, self-love needs to be addressed.
You’re not selfish for taking care of yourself. If you are beating yourself up and being perfectionistic, then it’s time to work on those deeper issues.
Self-Care Is Not a Band-Aid for Mental Illness or Other Serious Issues
For someone who is struggling with trauma or deep self-worth issues, self-care isn’t a band-aid that will magically heal them. Forcing themselves to meditate or do affirmations can even be triggering. Self-care should be a natural part of daily life, but taking a vacation or lighting a candle isn’t going to heal years of trauma. When someone is dealing with core self-worth issues or extreme stress, scheduling an appointment with a therapist may be the best thing someone can do for themselves at that moment.
Self Care Looks Different for Everyone
It’s important that you first meet your basic needs and not force yourself to take on activities you aren’t in a state of mind to do. If you have core self-worth issues, sometimes the best thing you can do is address those and see a professional. Just know that self-care is all about your relationship with yourself. That reflects on your relationship with the rest of your world. So be kind to yourself. Always.
Sometimes self-care is allowing your child to watch tv so you can get a moment’s peace, despite your best intentions to limit their screen time. Maybe it is taking a bath and reading a book. Can we recommend our relaxing “Replenishing Soaking” Salt Soaking Bath Salts?
Self-care looks different for everyone, based on who they are and what they are currently going through. The following is a list of examples of what self-care could look like for different people:
- Reading a book
- Ordering food delivery
- Having groceries delivered
- Hiring someone to clean your house once a month
- Lying down for 30 minutes
- Calling up a friend
- Asking a friend or family member to babysit so you can get some alone time
- Lighting a scented candle
- Taking a bath
- Talking to a life coach
- Telling your partner you need 3 hours to yourself every weekend
- Eating junk food once in a while
- Letting the kids watch tv so you can take a break
- Preparing a nice cup of tea
- Buying a new outfit
- Giving yourself a body massage with our Anti-Cellulite Wooden Massager and “Firm-Shell” Firming Body Oil
- Dimming the lights and turning on music
- Getting a manicure
- Writing in your self-care journal
- Getting a massage
- Scheduling a date night
- Telling your boss “no” to more hours
- Rescheduling your plans
- Delegating a task to someone else
- Attending a church service
- Watching your favorite show
- Window-shopping at the mall
- Taking a mini-vacation
Sometimes self-care is falling asleep with your clothes on when you are exhausted and
not getting up until the next morning. Sometimes it’s getting your hair and nails done. Self-care is real. Self-care is messy sometimes. It’s not the image of a girl in a bubble bath, in a vintage bathtub in a Parisian apartment. It doesn’t look like a magazine cover. Taking care of yourself isn’t a luxury and shouldn’t cost you a lot of money. The whole point is to weave a self-care routine into your daily life so that you can prevent burnout. Self-care is a way of life. Don’t pressure yourself or beat yourself up. Be kind to yourself. Always.