...that is the question, right? It seems to be something often spoken of dismissively or with great reverence. Self-care, generally speaking, is "care of the self without medical or other professional consultation."*
One writer describes it similarly to being on an airplane and having to put on your own oxygen mask before helping others. You cannot help others if you yourself can't breathe. Which is so true. You have to make sure your own being is in the right state of mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health before you can guide others around you (i.e.- family, friends, co-workers, students, etc).
Something important to also think about is self-care looks different for each person. Our individual needs are very different. What may be self-care for me can certainly not look or feel like self-care for you. It's important to assess our own individual needs and address them when they arise. Which, interestingly enough, may be different each day/week/month/year. Our needs change and we need to make sure we are always aware of the changes and choose self-care based on where we are on our journey.
Also, we need to be as compassionate with ourselves as much as we are with others. Loving yourself isn't a bad thing. Taking care of yourself isn't horrible. Self-care isn't selfish. It's vital. We are part of a society where the societal norm is to always meet the needs of our family, friends, coworkers, bosses, and community, before we consider our own. But, if we are in a constant state of stress, anxiety, worry, and general unhappiness, - the hustle of life- how can we meet other's needs fully or compassionately? Our mental, emotional, physical or spiritual health will begin to deteriorate. Be compassionate with yourself. Take a moment each day - or even 2 or several - and make any small change that will help you. This may not come naturally to you. In fact, it probably doesn't. Go into this slowly and purposefully.
Self-care is necessary for a number of reasons.
It increases your sense of self-love, allowing you to appreciate and accept yourself for who you are.
It promotes feelings of calm and relaxation, serving as a way to refocus and come back to your daily life refreshed and ready to take on anything.
It improves both physical and mental health by reducing the effects of prolonged stress on your mind and body.*
There is no right or wrong way to engage in self-care. If you try something that doesn't work, try something else. Don't force it. Forcing self-care will diminish the value. Find the value and bring it into your life. Fall in love with taking care of yourself.
I (Jessi) only came into proper self-care a few years ago. It took a long time. A loooong time. I found guilt in taking that time for myself. After being a stay-at-home mother for 3 years and giving birth to my second babe, I was a hot mess. There. I said it. A crazy, hot mess. Amber invited me to try a yoga class with her (my very first!) and so began an amazing journey of, not only self-care, but life changing opportunities. We started weekly self-care yoga dates that turned into a yearly self-care trip where we indulge in only the things that will bring us joy - yoga, reading a book, the beach, a manicure, wine tastings, whale/dolphin watching, watching a movie, conversing with each other with no interruptions, laughing, crying, eating new foods, breathing... the possibilities are endless. We now make this an annual trip and come home with renewed energy, hearts filled with joy, and a new appreciation for ourselves and those around us. That is just a big way we find self-care. Some small ways I find by myself include: before getting out of bed in the morning I take 10 deep breaths with my eyes closed, making a hot cup of tea and sitting at my sunny window to watch my chickens while I drink it, play on snapchat with 1 of my kids at a time (it's hilarious!), snuggling up with a new book, taking new yoga trainings, making cookies, giving myself a facial mask and foot soak, eating healthy snacks/meals and sometimes eating something *not* so healthy, moving my body daily (yoga, a walk, gardening)... and so much more!
Self-care is not selfish. It's necessary. It's essential.
What are your ways to indulge in self-care? We would love to hear them!
Grace and peace,
Jessi at GYC
*Dictionary.com. (n.d.). Retrieved November 28, 2017, from http://www.dictionary.com/
*Importance of self-care: why caring for yourself is caring for all. (2017, April 06). Retrieved November 28, 2017, from https://plusguidance.com/blog/importance-of-self-care/