When you were in school, did you take a class about taking good care of yourself? Probably not. Like doing laundry and effective housecleaning techniques, taking good care of ourselves – e.g. self care – is one of those vital life skills we never really get taught. If you were lucky, you had a parent or mentor that demonstrated good self care practices, but even then, we now live in a society and culture that runs at such a breakneck speed, self care seems like an afterthought or a selfish indulgence.
Self care isn’t selfish – in the opinion of myself and others, it’s required.
But what is self care? How does one practice self care? I like to think of it like a recipe – it requires a few ingredients to make it “successful” (a term which is relative, personal, and totally not objective) and everybody has their own ideal version. Here are my top 3 ingredients to ensure your self care routine is nourishing and supportive:
1. It’s Personal
Whenever I talk about self care, many people envision things like bubble baths and eating chocolate. While that might be nourishing to some, it isn’t for everyone – my definition of self care is anything activity that fills your cup, anything that helps you get in touch with the best version of yourself.
I give you permission to choose self care rituals that are just as personal and individual as you are. I have a friend whose self care routine is listening to his favorite music while walking his dogs. My self care routine includes journaling in the morning with a cup of tea, or reading books late at night (again, with hot tea). Your self care could be going for a jog in your favorite park, writing a letter to a friend, spending time in the kitchen baking, or even binge watching documentaries on Netflix – nobody has the right to judge! Good self care is personal.
2. It’s Intentional
It is easy to confuse things that make you feel good with self care – there is some overlap, but they aren’t exactly the same thing. For example, I love to clean the house – it makes me feel so much better afterwards. But, that isn’t self care; I’m often tired afterwards, and annoyed because it’s one more thing on my to do list. Another good example is binging on chocolate; it might feel good, but if you berate yourself constantly afterwards for your splurge, it might be doing more harm than good.
When deciding the role self care plays in your life, bring strong intentions into it – those intentions, such as knowing how you want to feel after self care, can help you ensure your focus is in the right place. Then hold yourself accountable and make adjustments to ensure your self care rituals get you in touch with filling your cup. Self care is intentional.
3. It’s Sacred
Lastly, when it comes to self care, it needs to be a regular, repeat activity that you make sacred. You shouldn’t ever feel ashamed that you are missing out on something else because you’re enjoying your self care activity; nor should you feel like self care is a chore. Indeed, if you have satisfied the first ingredient, your self care routine should be something that you truly look forward to. You should be proud of taking good care of yourself! It should be an activity that you just don’t feel as good without it – it should be a ritual that brings you closer to the best version of yourself. Good self care is sacred.