Caring for ourselves is probably the most fundamental tool that we can develop, and the earlier the better! Unfortunately, online creators make self-care seem so effortless and fun, which I think we all know, sometimes caring for ourselves during hard times seems impossible. Self-care is often presented along these lines.
– Wake up at 6am
– Shower, get ready for the day
– Make a healthy smoothie breakfast
– Run errands, get some work done, etc.
– Meet up with a friend
– Grab lunch, coffee, etc.
– Get home and clean, do chores, clean up
– Make dinner
– Relax, read a book
– Sleep and repeat!
Although this sounds amazing, some people (myself included) often don’t find this sustainable. Life throws curveballs at us all the time, and for a lot of people this kind of a day just doesn’t work; some people don’t work out daily because they don’t enjoy it, some people just simply cannot fit this many things into a day’s work. The coolest thing about self-care is that you don’t need to set up your days this way. Different things work for different people, the most important part of the process is that you put the effort in, and you try. So, what does self-care really look like? Let’s talk about it.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care is our individual ability to promote and maintain health and healthy habits. Anything that you do to better take care of yourself physically or mentally, would fall under self-care. This in turn will help prevent illness, boost our everyday mood, and help us to cope with everyday issues we may face. Self-care doesn’t require a doctor or medical professional (unless you want it to), it’s more of something you can do on your own, which makes it so personable and much easier for most people to achieve.
Some examples of self-care would be setting a regular wake up and bedtime or creating some sort of schedule for yourself. Again, for some people, a schedule works and for others, it doesn’t; personally, for myself, I can’t finish all the tasks I need to in a day unless I schedule times for myself. Another example could be practicing something spiritual or relaxing, like meditation or finding a peaceful podcast to listen to. Self-care can also be partaking in something like reading or learning something new. Something intellectual allows your mind to get to work and stay active.
The side to self-care that is less talked about and often not shown in the sparkly TikToks you see, is the part where you face things rather than avoid them. Talking openly about your feelings and emotions, facing issues in your life head on rather than putting them off to “deal with later” are important and will help you far more than avoiding these things and drinking the night away instead. Obviously, these things are far easier said than done, but it’s always the thought and the effort that counts. No path is ever linear, and caring for us often requires some learning, a couple bumps in the road here and there, and that’s perfectly normal and okay! If you’re trying, that’s all that truly matters.
Why is self-care so difficult sometimes?
Caring for ourselves requires a lot of effort, sometimes effort and energy that we don’t have. It’s not easy to come home from a day of work and cook, be active and do something creative all before heading to bed and doing it all over again the next day. The best way to keep up with self-care is to be realistic about it. Being realistic will save you from the disappointment that comes from not being able to achieve the things you set out to at the beginning of the day, always put your mental health first!
I think another really important point to mention is the way we make excuses for things and call it “self-care”. Things like skipping the gym for the 4th day in a row to watch movies instead in the name of self-care, even though you’re perfectly capable that day of being active, and you know that you should. Another is getting takeout every day rather than cooking for yourself simply because you don’t feel like it.
Skipping a day at the gym or grabbing takeout occasionally when you’re busy, tired, or just having an off day is what self-care is all about; balance is so important here. Regardless, sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is make the hard choices to cook for yourself, or drag yourself to the gym, because you know it will make you feel better, even if your mind is telling you no. Self-care is not always easy; it sounds so wonderful and perfect but it really requires a lot of work, most of which is not easy in the slightest, and is also difficult a lot of the time.
How can I get started?
You can start by deciding what exactly in your life needs to change at this moment, and how you can take better care of yourself. Whether that’s making a list, watching some videos first or just getting started with the first thing that comes to mind, you can really start anywhere.
With my own self-care journey, I started with my sleeping habits, and then moved to being more active throughout the week, then eating habits based on my activity levels, etc. Make sure the surrounding people are ready to support you on your self-care journey; having people in your life who will be there to help you along the way will aid you tremendously on your journey to a healthier life.
Lastly, this process is supposed to be fun (for the most part) and be enjoyable for you! If something isn’t working, re-evaluate and try something new. No one’s journey is the same, and it’s so crucial that the things you do everyday work for you!