I get it, when most people hear the words self-care they can’t help but picture a supple-bodied, problematic white woman soaking in a luxurious bath of manager’s tears sniffing on some Pumpkin Spice candles sipping a glass of Californian Rosé. That’s not to say that this isn’t self-care, but this is a very myopic interpretation of the practice. Self-Care is a radical act of self-love and though it may sound indulgent and bougie, it is really anything but.
Life is hard. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, this was true. In today’s society we are working longer hours than ever, spending less time with our friends and family and most people under 40 aren’t yet on the property ladder. There is immense pressure on us to go harder, faster and be better than the generation before us. However, because of the aforementioned pressures and the lack of personal attention we pay ourselves we are ill-equipped to do so.
Self-care is necessary. Say that out loud to yourself and then get started.
Nourish your body
Inside and out, this is a crucial habit to start. Simple things like drinking enough water often get forgotten in the blur of a busy day. Set alarms on your phone if you have to. Water is life.
Make time for exercise. Even 30 minutes a day is helping you to stay connected to your body, which transports you from place to place and supports you always.
Avoid overindulging in caffeine, alcohol or drugs. This is not good for your body or your mind. Keep a clear head and remember, everything in moderation.
Set healthy boundaries
Yas! This is self-care. Allowing others to tread on you is not serving you. Whether at work or at home with your family or partner, assert yourself and ensure you are protecting your energy and emotions.
Remember to set them for yourself too! Are you still working at 10pm despite starting at 8am? Are you meeting that friend for a coffee even though she always makes you feel insecure about yourself? Are you still waking up next to that person who never makes you a priority? This is all really poor boundary setting. Take some time to write down all boundaries you have that are important to you and then work hard to stick to them.
Do what you love
Make time to engage in activities you enjoy. Whether this is reading a book, going to a dance class, attending, yoga, getting a massage, taking a bath, playing football…whatever it is you have to carve it into your life at any cost. You can’t just live to work, you’ll live to regret it.
Remember that you do not have to be “good” at something to enjoy it and dedicate time to it. I am a terrible dancer, yet I dance every day. Whatever brings you joy do it!
Be in nature
Take a break from your screen and take a walk. Even if you live in a big city there will be green space somewhere you can spend time in. Take 20 minutes each day to be outdoors and connect with the natural world. It’s good for your body and soul!
Remember to breathe
This one shouldn’t be so hard, but it is. So many of us just don’t breathe properly, especially not women. We are taught to breathe vertically so as not to expand our belly, which is not in any way healthy. It restricts the quality of your breath and ensures you breathe shallowly. Start by taking some nice deep breaths into the belly through the nose and sighing them out your mouth, it feels wonderful. Do this at least three times and integrate it into your daily routine. Once you’ve started to breathe properly there’s no going back!
Practice Positive Thinking
Habitually tapping into positive emotions like joy and gratitude can really shift your overall mindset. Try starting a gratitude journal and listing all the things you are grateful for in the morning and then at night do it again as you reflect on your day. This shift to focusing on the positive has lasting benefits for your outlook on life.
If something didn’t go your way during the day, try and find a bright spot. If you missed out on a promotion, for example, try and focus on how brave you were to put yourself forward for it in the first place. By celebrating the good in life it helps better equip us to deal with the bad.
These are just a few ways you can start your self-care practice. And remember, it is that – a practice. You have to keep it up to reap the benefits. You deserve to be cared for, not just by others but by yourself as well.