What comes immediately to mind when you think of self-care? Did you think about a bubble bath, a big glass of wine, or sitting down with a good book?
Although these are wonderful ways to wind down and relax, true self-care is a little less comforting. It’s not always pretty rainbows and warm soothing cups of tea. In fact, true self-care is not very pretty at all.
What is self-care?
It’s nurturing good relationships, and releasing toxic ones.
It is difficult to practice self-care if you’re surrounded by unhealthy relationships. If your romantic relationship isn’t moving forward and you’re feeling stuck, open the door to having a hard talk with your partner. You may discover something new about them, or come to the understanding that you’re ultimately not right for one another.
If you have a friend that is not supportive or seems to constantly project a negative energy, maybe it’s time to let them go. Severing unhealthy relationships is not an easy task, but it’s a big step forward in taking care of yourself.
It’s taking a cold hard look at your reality.
Are you where you want to be financially, or still struggling to make ends meet? Have you finally found a comfortable weight, or does the number on the scale still go up and down? Do you have good sleep habits, or are you only getting 5-6 hours a night?
When you’re truly taking care of yourself, you are looking at your life and figuring out how to take new and innovative approaches in reaching your goals. That means creating a debt-payoff spreadsheet and having a meeting with a financial advisor. It means scheduling an appointment with a doctor or nutritionist, or doing a thorough cleanse to better understand your own unique dietary requirements. It means making big lifestyle changes, like cutting back on alcohol or detaching from a smartphone addiction, in order to get better sleep.
Facing these difficult challenges is of the utmost importance for your wellness, mental health, and overall benefit.
It’s embracing imperfection…
Maybe you’re a workaholic that can’t take a break from checking business emails even when sick at home with a cold. Or maybe you beat yourself up for taking a full day off from errands and tasks, and can never really enjoy relaxing without any plans at all.
You’re not perfect. Luckily, no one expects you to be. Allow yourself time to rest and recharge. Making time for relaxation is just as important as the time you spend being motivated and productive.
… or pushing yourself further.
Have you gotten fired from your last few jobs? Have you been unable to find a nurturing romantic relationship that meets your needs? Are you constantly setting goals that you can never seem to reach? Instead of making excuses (my manager is a jerk, the good men/women out there are all taken, I try but I just can’t!) take a real introspective look at these issues and push yourself a little harder.
Was your manager really a jerk, or did you show up late and slack off? Are there really no good men/women out there, or are you looking for love in all the wrong places? Are you really trying, or doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for different results?
It’s learning to love yourself.
Not when you’re 10 pounds thinner, when you have a significant other, when you have your debt paid off, or when you finally get that promotion. Right now. With all of your flaws, you are beautiful and amazing just as you are.
Learning to love ourselves in this way is very powerful. It gives us the confidence to make real changes in our lives for the better, and provides us with the bravery we need to face our fears head-on.
Self-care is more than just taking time to relax. It’s about really diving in to explore a deep understanding of who we really are. Real self-care helps you learn more than ever before about what unique tools you need in order to make positive life changes, and have a healthier mind, body, and soul through and through.
[Credit: Wiest, Brianna. “This Is What ‘Self-Care’ REALLY Means, Because It’s Not All Salt Baths And Chocolate Cake.” Thought Catalog.]