Self-Care: What is it and why you should be doing it.
#selfcare. It's trending. 52.4 million posts on Instagram kind of trending. But what exactly is it? And just because the socials are all over it, does that mean I should be doing it too? Well, usually, when something is trending on the socials there is a good chance you should avoid it. Remember planking? Case in point. This one is different, though. I'm sure nobody will argue the fact that we are living in a weird, chaotic, and deeply unsettling world at the moment. It has never been more important for us to stop, take a breath and allow ourselves a few precious moments to do something that is just for us.
Traditionally, the term 'self-care' would generally be used to refer to all of your usual daily practices to keep you alive and in a state of reasonable health. This would include eating, drinking water, exercising, bathing, brushing your teeth, and other basic hygiene activities. Nowadays, the term has expanded to include looking after our mental/emotional health as well.
Over the years, our work lives have swelled to the point where we work longer and harder than ever. In our personal lives, our responsibilities to others (kids, elderly parents, sick family members, friends, community groups, or committees) take up a fair whack of what time we have left over outside of the workplace. As if that isn't enough, add in the domestic duties like housework, grocery shopping, gardening, and the like, and it's little wonder most of us get to the end of each week, month, or even year and wonder, "Where the hell did it go?"
It really is no surprise that people are exhausted and burnt out from the constant demand on our time. There is a really useful life skill that can help with this. It's called "learning how to say no and not feel guilty about it," but that might be a blog (or entire book) for a different time. And even if you are the master at guilt-free 'nay-saying,' there are a lot of times that you just don't get to say no and merrily dance off into the sunset. This is where self-care comes to the rescue, and I'm going to drop a massive bombshell right here:
You are allowed to reclaim a few hours here and there to do something that is purely for your own rest, relaxation, and personal enjoyment. And, here's the kicker, you are allowed to not feel guilty about doing it. Because the fact of the matter is, when you feel better within yourself, you can be more present and effective in your interactions with others.
Now, you might find yourself in the same place that I had been residing in, mentally for the better part of 40 years. "I can't take time for myself, everybody needs me, nothing will get done, I'm too busy, there is simply too much to do."
I've got an answer to that one too...If you run yourself into the ground and get sick or have a breakdown ( been there, done that, do NOT recommend), then you will have no choice but to take time for yourself (medical treatments etc.), you will be of no use to anybody, absolutely nothing will get done, you will still be busy (trying to get your mental and physical health back on track), and there is always going to be too much to do.
Makes slotting in an hour here or there for a bit of a reset look like the more efficient option, doesn't it? Make no mistake, there is a lot of power in that precious hour. You can find balance, restore your equilibrium, ground yourself, reset your goals and reconnect with yourself as an individual, not just as somebody who exists only to serve others.
The very best thing about the time you claim for your own self-care? You can do with it as you please. And, it doesn't have to cost you much, if anything at all. Here is a list of some of my favourite self-care activities; some are free and some I have to pay for but use this list as inspiration for your next hour of power:
- Take a walk: get out in nature. It can be a park, forest, local garden, closest lake. Doesn't matter. Weather is warm; enjoy that sunshine! Weather is cold; feel that crisp air re-invigorate you. Walk fast, walk slow, walk however you please. Your body will revel in the movement either way. Not everything has to be a triathlon.
- Listen to an audiobook. I love Audible and have a wonderful 12 hour series on the law of attraction on the go right now. Then I have Stephen King's latest ready to go right after. Bonus points, you can combine this with other activities on this list.
- Take a long bath. Level up that bath with some bath salts or bath oil and a candle or 10 (my bath time can sometimes resemble a séance more than a bath). Meditate, watch last night's episode of the bachelor, read, look at real estate for no good reason on your phone; it doesn't matter. It's your bath, and you can bathe how you want to.
- Listen to music. Another bonus point activity if you combine it with a walk or bath. Listen to whatever makes you feel good. Soft, relaxing meditation music or pop music. For me, it's metal. The harder, the better. Crunchy, feel it in my bones kind of metal. Oh yeah, baby!
- Take some time to practice meditation. If you've never done it before, it can feel daunting. It's ok to feel like you're no good at meditating. It's called a practice for a reason; the more you do it, the better at it you will be. It doesn't matter where you do it, as long as you are comfortable and won't be disturbed. You can level up your meditation, too, by choosing one of your favourite crystals and incorporating that into your session. My favourite is Angelite. I find the soft blue colour to be calming, and I like how I feel more connected to the universe when I have it with me.
There you have it, five easy self-care activities that anyone can incorporate into their day right now. You can create your own self-care rituals; that's the beauty of it. It can be literally anything that you love to do. Just be sure to do it. By putting your mental health first, you will be more positive and present moving forward. When you are more positive, that positive energy flows through to benefit all of the people in your life. It's not selfish, it's necessary. Being your best self benefits everybody.
PS: I should probably include at least one shameless plug. Here is a link to the Crystal Common range of self-care products that I created to level up my own self-care rituals. The sleep spray is a household favourite; even my seven-year-old son asks for it on his pillows at night.