So self-care is the hot thing right now, sometimes to a point it has lost its meaning in some way. You can’t open a magazine or a blog without finding lists of these “simple” ways to make yourself feel better (including yours truly…)
Well, I’m the first one to preach about the importance of self-care, and even a little indulgence sometimes but self-care is much more than bubble baths and another piece of chocolate cake. True self-care has little to do with “treating yourself” and “living the moment” and a whole lot with making tough choices for your wellness.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t put on red lipstick, or buy that dress. Basically, I’m a firm believer you should do whatever makes you even the slightest happier– as small as it may be. Hell, even light that scented candle… But! If you find yourself having to regularly indulge in consumer-based empowerment you may not be paying attention to REALLY take care of yourself.
Related: Happiness Hacks: 10 ways to be happier in under 10 minutes a day
While “basic” self-care is most of the time pleasurable and even hedonistic in a way. Splurging and spoiling ourselves so we can feel better at that very moment because we really “deserve” that extra chocolate. “Real” self-care will be at most part, unpleasant.
I know, that may sound counter-intuitive but it’s not. Proper self-care means showing up for yourself and making the choice to build a life you don’t need to escape from. This is not always an easy process because it requires work, inner work, and that sh*t is tough.
Related: 70 easy ways to feel happier
So while the facial mask is on your face, check out these 5 ways to actually practice self-care that doesn’t involve scented candles of any kind:
Ironic to the fact that every infant knows how to breathe, most of us don’t know how to master it and use it to our advantage. In mindfulness meditation, you learn how to pay attention to the breath as it goes in and out. It helps you focus on the present moment and thus reduces stress. It also improves concentration, increases self-awareness and happiness and so much more.
If you haven’t been practicing so far, you must be wondering where do you sign up for all these perks but the truth is meditation is hard. And at the beginning can be downright frustrating.
I’ve been talking on and on for years about how much I wanted to start but found it too challenging. It’s still a definite work in progress for me, but it’s also totally worth it and one of the best ways to genuinely have “me” time.
To make it easier at the beginning consider joining a meditation group or use an app like Headspace or Calm, which offer guided meditation and deep breathing exercises for all levels.
I think that are a few misconceptions about therapy: 1. You see a therapist only when you have a “problem” or when you’re struggling with mental illness. 2. Therapy is something to be ashamed of.
While digging into your soul in front of a stranger might not be the most pleasant thing to do at that very moment but it can do wonders to your mental health and life in general.
Therapy is mostly known for its problem-solving techniques for overcoming anxiety, depression, and addiction. But it’s also a way to establish better emotional wellness in your daily life. Talking with someone can help you handle daily life situation in a better way even if they aren’t traumatic or life-changing.
Although scrolling down our feed became second nature to us every time we have a free minute, try to learn to unplug sometimes. Social Media affects our mental health in so many (negative) ways.
One study a few years ago found that Facebook use was linked to both less moment-to-moment happiness and less life satisfaction—the more people used Facebook in a day, the more these two variables dropped off.
I’m not saying don’t be on social media because I do think it also has a positive side, but these apps are draining our time and attention. Not to mention they are (a bit) addictive…
For me, being on my phone all the time makes me feel less present at the moment and less connected to the situation I’m at. Which makes my mind feel cluttered and leads to a certain amount of stress.
Don’t get me wrong, I DO check my phone quite a lot (still need to work on that) but I also try to put my phone away when I’m spending quality time with my family or friends and make sure to turn the notifications (or at least sound) off so I won’t be tempted.
P.s unplugging means apps but can also refer to people. Yes, sometimes you also have to turn down people for a proper “me” time (so you can have all the chocolate cake, Netflix shows and facial masks you want), Just say no people. Just say no.
There’s no one who believes in mind-body connection more than me (and vice versa of course). So while we take care of our minds we also have to take care of our bodies.
First of all, listen to your body. What does it need from you? More exercise? More sleep?
Well, you know the basics right? Eating right, drinking plenty of water, exercising, walking around as much as you can… Our body is basically a machine – if we don’t take care of it, it will break down. Just like you take your car to the shop at least once a year… But one little extra tip.
I know, going to the doctor is such a hassle – making the appointment, finding the time, waiting in those god awful lines for ages just to be pocked and proved… but not putting off yearly physicals, seeing your gynecologist, doing the necessary tests, etc. is a huge part of self-maintenance and self-care.
Furthermore, go to the doctor when you’re sick and actually follow their orders. If your body needs rest – do it. None of that “I don’t have time to rest” excuses. It’s like not having time to put gas in the car because you’re driving… It will stop eventually. Most likely by ignoring your illness, you will feel sick longer and will take much more time and energy to recuperate.
As adults we tend to forget the simplest things that make us happy, we either lose track of it or put it in the back of our minds and to-do lists.
However, Self-care is choosing a life that feels good over a life that looks good. It’s giving up on a cool party on a Friday night to stay home and knit.
Related: A beginner’s guide to dating yourself
Try to remember what you did as a child that made you happy – not material things, but actual “doing”. Or just a hobby that you like to pursue. It could be dancing, singing, baking, knitting, DIY projects, puzzles or whatever ignites your soul.
For me, these days, it’s writing this blog. and baking – I love baking. In the mids of my extra hectic life these days – I find comfort in taking an hour, going to the kitchen with my music blasting and baking my ass off. The extra bonus for me – people who enjoy my food!
Related: Discover the 3 simple steps you need to take to become happier right now
Basically adulating is hard. Well, Life is hard. We work so much and do tough sh*t every day so we feel like we “earned” the right to indulge. That feeling of struggle is what makes us all feel “deserving” of that extra something. And I agree. But I think we also “deserve” to be our best selves.
At the end of the day, a healthy lifestyle is all about balance. Sure, Happy Hour is fun, but waking up with a massive hangover? Not so much. Just know the difference between another glass of wine with dinner “because you deserve it” and getting drunk as a self-sabotag act.
I ask you to think whether the wine is worth the headache the next day? Whether that extra dessert worth you struggling with your self-image? Sometime the answer will be yes. And sometimes our hectic lives shouldn’t be a justification for self-sabotage in the form of carbs and lack of self-control.
We need to make better choices for ourselves. Choices that will make us feel good with ourselves so we can enjoy the pleasures of life without them becoming “guilty”.
P.S. I learn so much from your input. Would love to hear what you thought in the comments and also what is your “to go” self-care tip.