It is often not until something bad/ negative/ frustrating/ sad (and so on) happens that shakes us to our very core that we start to think about our self. Note I said often, not always, as once you start thinking about and actually taking better care of yourself the benefits can be rewarding. They can also be overwhelming and unfamiliar because it is hard to put yourself first… but it shouldn’t be.
September is self-care awareness month! But what exactly is self-care? How do I/you/we self-care? Is it really that important? Let’s start with the last question first, because if you’re having to ask it then essentially you have answered it. So YES (in caps, bold, underlined, circled with a red marker) it is important. Each and every time you give of yourself to others, whether it is family, friends, work colleagues, strangers you need to replenish your supply. This does not only apply to people but things too such as your home, hobbies, jobs etc. Naturally, there is an exchange that can take place where you give to others and get in return but it is not always enough to fully ensure you have what you need to keep you being your best.
Back to the questions, the first one now. What is self-care? I am not gonna give you a dictionary definition. Rather my own understanding, which is simply loving, appreciating and caring for yourself like no other. Understanding your needs, desires, wants and catering to them. Making them a priority without excuses, questions or guilt. You can add your own interpretations to this as the phrase ‘self-care’ is exactly what it says on the tin. When I speak of self-care, I am talking about all aspects of your life and being… mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, financial. This list can go on. If it involves you, then follow Drake’s advice and take care (see what I did there)!
With all of the above, how exactly do we take care of ourselves? Here are my 5 principles of self-care (in no particular order):
- Mental strength training. Allow yourself time to heal and grow. Let your thoughts and feelings have an outlet. They do not have to stay in your mind and run rampant – it is super important to express your emotions, at your own pace and in a way that allows you to find some inner peace and strength. One of the ways I do this is by practicing mindfulness. I pray, talk to myself, write things down, meditate, read daily affirmations of faith, debunk my negative energy and channel my thoughts into positive spaces. I laugh loud, cry, act silly and just do me.
- Schedule regular time for ME. I find great joy and comfort in planning things to do by myself for myself. A face mask, a bubble bath, taking a walk, reading, writing in my journal, anything that takes me away from the every day grinds of life to remind me that I am important and I am special. Schedule time to at least 2/3 (really 5) things for yourself at least every day/week/ month. Sitting with your thoughts every day for at least 10 mins is more powerful than you think.
- Have a Plan A, B, C. Whether it is my finances each month or work, uni, home schedules, planning helps me keep on top of things. I can stay in control and be flexible without stress as we all know real life is anything but routine. Make plans that will change your life. Go after your dreams, don’t let anyone or anything stop you.
- Run, hop, skip, jump. Man, twerk if you want to. Try and fit some sort of physical activity into your day. If all you got is 5 mins, make it count. Let’s be honest though, the 20/30 mins we spend scrolling socials every hour on the hour can become a more productive avenue for physical self-care. Dance around the house when you vaccuum, see how good your knees are and put on your fave song and bust a move. I got a couple more ‘drop it low’ and ‘act up’ moves in me yet! My hot girl summer is for all seasons. Believe me!
- Love all over YOU! As much as we give and love on everyone else, love on yourself. Do this each and every day! Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. Tell yourself how much you love yourself. Why stop there, say all the things you love… out loud. Set them as reminders and alarms on your phone or on notes around the home (a la Being Mary Jane), in your wallet, desk any and everywhere. Dye your hair purple or grey, wear that dress or shorts, make up a song about yourself. Find different ways to show yourself love. No-one will love you like you do.
I am sure some of the above will seem alien or even uncomfortable for some. What that means is that you need to truly care for yourself more. It has taken me many years to get to this point and I am still working at it. I have experienced some exhilarating highs and heartbreaking lows over the last couple of years. I am surprised at just how much my heart, mind and body refuses to quit no matter what comes my way. Much of that has come from knowing that God has got me and how often he reminds me to take care of myself first.
If you are already making sure to look after yourself, you are a real one. If not, it is ok to be selfish, by doing so you will be able to give to others without expecting them to be the ones to replenish your supply.
Thank you and take care of yourSELF! ❤️