Self-care is something that’s so necessary to improve and maintain our wellbeing, yet we never actually learned what it may look like or how to practice it. We weren’t forced to take a mandatory Self-Care 101 class in high school. There wasn’t a class dedicated to it in college either. And I’m willing to bet that most of our parents never sat us down and had “the talk” about how to find inner peace and genuine comfort in being alone so we don’t need anyone else to take care of us.
So how are we supposed to take a step back and achieve a calm state of mind in a world where everything is constantly chaotic? How can we learn to slow down from the stress of our everyday lives and set the time aside to kick back and relax? How on earth do we stop focusing on other people and start to cater to our own needs for once in our lives?
Welcome to Self-Care 101, one of the most important life lessons that you’ll ever learn.
What Is Self-Care?
By definition, according to Habits For Well-Being, self-care refers to “the actions and attitudes which contribute to the maintenance of well-being and personal health and promote human development.” In simpler terms, self-care is ultimately defined as “care for oneself.”
Self-care isn’t necessarily about good hygiene, eating three meals a day, or brushing your teeth. It’s about doing what it takes to properly nourish your mind, body, and soul to achieve positive mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.
It’s about doing what you need to do in order to feel good when you open your eyes in the morning, when you finally crawl into bed at the end of the day to fall asleep, and throughout the hours in between those two moments. It’s about learning how to effectively work through your emotions, be honest with yourself, honor your deepest needs, and be comfortable in your own skin.
It’s about saying “no” to your friends when they invite you to the bar to grab drinks when you just don’t feel like going.
It’s about keeping a positive mindset toward life, acknowledging when you’re not okay, and knowing what you can do to fix that.
It’s about being your own biggest advocate, fan, best friend, confidante, and idol.
So how do we accomplish this? How can we develop a healthier, more positive relationship with ourselves in order to live a better, happier life?
Why Is Self-Care Important
It’s so easy to get caught up in taking care of other people and making sure everyone else is okay. News flash: No matter how hard we try, we can’t effectively take care of anyone else if we aren’t taking proper care of ourselves. We are the only ones in control of the way we feel, so we need to be able to heal ourselves and give ourselves the nourishment we need when no one else is doing it for us.
It’s vital to shine a light on how we can take better care of our minds and bodies and get in touch with our emotions, wants, and needs for so many reasons. Doing so will drastically improve our outlooks on life, relationships with others, and the way we live on a daily basis. That is why a proper, regular self-care routine is so important.
So when is it our turn? When do we accept the fact that we need to be cared for too? When do we begin to love ourselves and treat ourselves with the same kindness we regularly dish out to others? The answer is NOW.
How To Take Better Care Of Yourself
There’s no rulebook on how we can do this. We have to base it off of our intuition and how we truly feel. Soul Tattoo artist Ash, who goes by the name of Wadulisi Woman on social media, recently shared an Instagram story that said “How to not get overwhelmed and drained by time? Take care of yourself! Nothing makes me feel more replenished than time alone to listen to my spirit. We have to receive from ourselves even more than we receive from others.”
So what guidelines can we generally follow in our day-to-day life to start taking better care of ourselves? These rules won’t necessarily be easy to implement, but they will absolutely be worth it.
Here are some things you can do every day to improve…
- Eat a well-rounded diet: Eat more greens. Get more nutrients into your system. Cut out artificial sugars, chemical preservatives, and other ingredients that may be considered detrimental to your health.
- Stay hydrated: Drink a lot of water, and by “a lot” I mean at least the daily recommended amount of 64 ounces. Carry a water bottle around with you at all times. If you don’t like the taste of regular water, make your own fruit-infused flavored water.
- Stretch: When you wake up, in the middle of your work shift, and before you go to bed. Touch your toes, bend, move, wiggle, reach up to the sky – just activate your body after being idle for too long.
- Regularly exercise: Go to the gym, ride your bike, or take a class that you enjoy. Try Zumba, yoga, or a form of martial arts. No matter what you do, find a way to have fun while you sweat and detox.
- Stay positive: The power of positivity is necessary to survive and thrive in life. A positive outlook on things is key to staying strong and pushing through in good times and bad.
- Eliminate toxic people from your life: Negative energy is draining. Don’t be afraid to cut out the energy vampires who keep sucking the life out of you year after year. Say goodbye to anyone who brings more stress into your world than joy. On that same note…
- Surround yourself with positive people: Spend time with family, friends, and other folks who truly care about you and bring genuine happiness into your life.
- Spend quality time with yourself: Don’t have a positive support group? It’s better to be alone than in bad company. “Me-time” is the valuable time we take to decompress and unwind and be alone with our thoughts. Take the time to do what you like to do in the company of nobody else but yourself.
- Learn to be okay with being alone: Once you’re okay with being on your own, then you can feel satisfied no matter where you are, who you’re with, or what you’re doing. If you can accept being alone, you don’t need to seek anyone else to make you happy or fill a void.
- Be honest: With yourself and others. Be true to what you want. Say “yes” when you want to. Say “no” when you want to. Honor how you truly feel. You won’t be happy otherwise.
- Meditate: Happiness, peace, and love are already within you — it’s up to you to look inward and find them. If you want to learn how to meditate, do some research, buy a book, or download a mobile app to guide you through the process.
- Practice gratitude: Be thankful for all of the blessings in your life. Say “thank you” to the universe and appreciate the good things that happen every day.
- Spend time in nature: It’s challenging to feel stressed when you’re surrounded by tall, green trees or breathing in the salty ocean air. Go for a hike. Sit by the water. Look up at the night sky and count the stars. Breathing fresh air will help to clear your mind and serve as a hard reset button when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
- Do what you love: Stop doing things you don’t want to do. Say no to plans that don’t align with your interests or needs. Work a job you love. Pursue hobbies that you enjoy. Whatever you do, do what you love. It’s your life, after all.
So go light some candles and cook your favorite meal while you play your favorite music. Hell, even pour a glass of wine and take a bath if that’s what you want to do. A healthy relationship with the world and everything within it starts with a healthy, loving relationship with yourself.
In the beautiful words of Jorge Luis Borges, “Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.” And in the wise words of Big Sean, “The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It’s green where you water it.”
You are the only one in control of your happiness and well-being. It’s time to be your own gardener, water your own grass and flowers, and watch your life and everything within it begin to bloom.