What Even is “Self-Care”?

Self-care has been a serious buzzword in 2017. It’s been used like “YOLO,” an excuse to indulge in extravagance. “Look at my $400 jewel-encrusted fingernails! #selfcare.” Yes, self-care can definitely refer to spending money on prettying yourself up, if that’s what you do to take a break from stress. But it’s so much more than that. Self-care refers to the things you do to preserve your physical, mental, and emotional health. Practicing self-care could be as simple as getting out of the house and going for a walk to clear your head. It could be making a point of eating more fruits and vegetables so your body gets the right nutrition. It could be meditating, practicing yoga, or journaling. Self-care encompasses a wide variety of practices, but the important thing is that it involves YOU taking care of YOU.

If you are planning on making a New Year’s Resolution this year, why not make it about self-care? Resolve to take five minutes each day to meditate, or resolve to attend a yoga class once a week. Resolve to spend at least a few hours a week doing something to better yourself. Resolve to spend ‘Self-care Sunday’ taking care of yourself, and try not to get stuck in a rut. Rather than getting into a habit of taking a bubble bath every Sunday afternoon, whether you want to or not, first take a moment to ask yourself, “What would be best for ME today?” Maybe your body needs some exercise and you decide to go for a run. Maybe you decide to get in touch with your emotions, and you spend time journaling. Maybe you’ve had a stressful week, and you just need some peace and quiet.

As an introvert, I also have to practice self-care in social situations. Before going out to a party or a gathering, I have to first make sure that I have enough social energy to function around people. If you are an introvert, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If I don’t have enough social energy, I know I’ll be miserable. Side note: it’s okay to not want to go out! Sometimes self-care means taking a mental health day.

The important thing to remember is that self-care is NOT selfish. You are in charge of you. It is your job to make sure that your body and mind are taken care of. Even the most altruistic and caring person cannot care for others without first caring for themselves. Think of it like an airplane emergency; you put on your own oxygen mask first, before helping those around you. You have to make sure that your physical and mental health are taken care of before you can start to worry about others. You’re no use to anyone in a plane crash if you’ve already passed out without your mask.

Today I am practicing self-care by eating right, drinking lots of water, exercising, and doing things I enjoy, like crocheting with a fire in the fireplace. What does self-care look like for you today?

Be happy. Be healthy.

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