What does self-care mean?
Self-care gets tossed around as a hot-button topic in the world of personal development, yet many people are confused about what it really means. If self-care looks like bubble baths, yoga classes, or treat-yo-self spa days, how on earth do you realistically add these practices into your life, let alone afford them?
Self-care basically means showing yourself kindness. Self-care can be any activity that you do deliberately in order to take care of your mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual health. This doesn’t necessarily that you need extra time, extra money, or extra energy to offer yourself some basic care. Often times, it simply means doing something that goes against your habitual behavior.
Self-care isn’t one-size-fits-all.
Depending on your personality and your habits, maybe you need to take more time to relax, or maybe you need to be more disciplined. Maybe you need to be more organized, less maybe you need more flexibility. Maybe you need to allow yourself permission to make mistakes, or maybe you need to push yourself to follow through with your commitments. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy. Self-care is a deeply personal practice of showing kindness and generosity to yourself.
Self-care is anything that demonstrates kind regard for your inner self.
Your inner self is the most essential part of you. Think of your inner self as a small and innocent child who needs attention, respect, and care. Self-care honors that inner you.
To help you think outside of the bubble-bath-box, I’ve listed nine realistic ways to practice better self-care. Some of these will be easier than others for you. I offer these tips to help you add practical, easy, and affordable self-care activities into your daily life.
Make a mess on purpose. Color outside the lines. Give yourself permission to not have to be good, or perfect. If you tend to be perfectionistic, self care might look like allowing some space for imperfection.
Take one minute for yourself before attending to others. Make yourself a cup of tea. Take five deep breaths. Lay down on the floor. If you tend to always serve others first, serve yourself for at least one minute before moving on to anyone else.
Take the long way home. It’s so easy to caught up in being productive and efficient. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do for yourself is to take the scenic route. Rather than always choosing the quickest thing, choose something that takes a little bit longer. Cook something from scratch rather than picking up take-out. Make pour-over coffee in the morning rather than popping in a Keurig pod.
Stick to a schedule. If you’re someone who typically follows your whims and moods, sometimes the best form of self-care is to commit to a schedule or to a routine. Before you go to bed at night, try writing out a schedule for the following day. Then stick to it. Structure is the backbone of freedom.
Connect with someone in real life. If you’re someone who typically withdraws, self-care may look like reaching out to someone. The key part of this is to connect in real life, this means that you must leave your nest. Smile at someone on the street. Say hi to someone in the grocery store. Make eye contact with a person or an animal. Give yourself permission to belong to the world.
Don’t walk… skip. If you’re feeling depressed, anxious, or annoyed, sometimes the best form of self-care is a dose of silliness. There’s no way to take yourself seriously when you’re skipping, you pretty much have to let go of your ego, your bad mood, and all of your cynicism. You’re going to feel dorky… do it anyway. This isn’t about looking cool, it’s about caring for your inner self.
Finish something that you’ve been putting off. If you’re the type of person who flits from thing to thing following the feel-good, self-care might look like investing in long-term satisfaction rather than instant gratification. Through discipline, you may find a deeper and more rewarding sense of joy.
Turn on some music. If you’re the type of person who’s always disciplined, always going, and always driven, self-care might look like taking a moment to put on some music. Set the mood, dim the lights, and create a haven for serenity. It’s amazing simple things like lighting and music can completely change your experience.
Do the easiest thing on your list first. If you tend to procrastinate, self-care might look like getting yourself into gear. The best way to do this is to do the easiest thing first and then pat yourself on the back. This helps you realize that you’ve gained some momentum, and that you can trust yourself to keep moving forward. Do this before you try to move onto the more difficult things.