This particular year, this particular season, this particular time of year is proving to be rough on many of us for many reasons. Life is wearing us down. It can be excruciating, trying to balance the weight between your work, your personal life and what’s happening in the world. You can only shoulder the weight so long before it brings you to your knees. So many of us are walking around trying to be strong, trying to be infinitely capable, just TRYING TO BE. And it makes me wonder, when so many of us are busy handling business and taking care of others, how well are we taking care of ourselves? How do you take care of yourself?
This quote by Audre Lorde is one of her most popular and one of my very favorites. “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare,” comes from Audre Lorde’s A Burst of Light, which is also included in The Cancer Journals. Read more on self-care via Feminist Killjoys and Feminspire.
So, what exactly IS self care? Wikipedia’s got a definition: “In health care, self care is any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated…In philosophy, self care refers to the care and cultivation of self in a comprehensive sense, focusing in particular on the soul and the knowledge of self.” It is quite simply, the quest for your own comfort, health and happiness. It is the physical act of loving yourself.
I believe self care is essential. I also believe self care is self defined. You have to do what you have to do, to take care of yourself. To feel better. To face the day. It’s an intentional act of taking care of your needs – physical, spiritual, mental. If you’ve got a particular religious or spiritual practice, that may be the thing that carries you through. Prayer, meditation, and yoga are all part of the process of self care for many of us.
I’ve also found that when I bring up the topic of self care with my friends, sometimes the response will involve indulgence in sweets or cocktails or fried food, or retail therapy. Please understand that I’m not saying that indulgence is inherently good or bad – I’m definitely Team Indulgence. I enjoy shopping and I love delicious foods and drinks. But I have had to make a distinction between healthy self care and unhealthy self care. Sometimes in seeking immediate gratification for our self care needs, we make decisions that aren’t ultimately beneficial to our best interests (and are therefore detrimental to our health and self care). Retail therapy is sometimes a form of unhealthy self care that I indulge in, but I have to make sure that I don’t shop beyond my means, or shop just for shopping’s sake.
To me, healthy self care is making an intentional choice to make yourself happy AND do something ultimately beneficial for your life. To me it’s like the difference between having truffle mac and cheese for lunch, or ordering a big salad with all the fixings I enjoy. I LOVE truffle mac and cheese, but I know nutritionally it isn’t giving my body everything it needs to thrive and survive. What’s going to make me happy immediately? OK…so what will make me happy immediately after enjoying it? And what’s going to make me happy when I look back and remember that meal later on? I have to stay aware of what my health requires, and balance that with my needs and desires. That can be a struggle for me. Basically, making that bomb salad with all of the things I enjoy that I know are giving my body what it needs, all the veggie colors of the rainbow – that will fill me, make me happy AND be good for me. So in my definition of self care, that’s the way to go. Of course, it doesn’t always go that way. And THAT is also OK. We’re beautifully human and we’re doing our best.
I’m trying to focus my attention on healthy self care, on recognizing my energy sources, on filling my spirit and improving my mental and physical health in achievable, sustainable ways. I know I’m not alone in needing to step up the self care, too often I find myself putting my own health and happiness (and hunger) on the back burner, and placing the needs of others and the demands other things ahead of my own. So I’ve made this list for myself and for you, too. We all need a little more self care. Here are 30 healthy self care suggestions that can help to make you happy and feel good in the short and the long term:
1 – go for a walk somewhere beautiful that lifts your spirit
2 – take a nap because your body needs it
3 – take a bubble bath. Listen to relaxing music while you soak the stress away.
4 – go to a spa or day spa for a massage, facial, body scrub
5- Go get a manicure and pedicure. OR give yourself a manicure or pedicure
6 – deep condition your hair, do a hot oil treatment, pamper yourself at home
7 – plan a trip. Maybe a solo trip to get back in touch with yourself.
8 – see a therapist. We ALL need a little therapy sometimes.
9 – try acupuncture
10 – try reiki
11 – read a book that nourishes your spirit and inspires you to be great
12 – listen to music that will lift you up
13 – exercise, find a workout that will make you sweat and raise your endorphins. Sweat out the toxins.
14 – cook for yourself, enjoy the process of cooking or baking or making something special that’s just for you that you love
15 – drink water. As much as possible throughout the day, your body needs it and it’s so good for your skin!
16 – drink green tea, it’s good for you
17 – drink pure juices and green juices
18 – make yourself a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner. Most of us skip at least one meal, many of us are spending time undernourished and dehydrated. Nourish your body with healthy food. Try to include as many vegetables as possible in general!
19 – Go see a doctor instead of putting it off. Have a physical and do some blood work to make sure you’re getting enough vitamins and minerals. Your physical health is of UTMOST importance!
20 – if you have a vitamin deficiency, take supplements every day. Consider a vitamin for your overall health, not just for your hair and nails.
21 – disconnect from social media. Put your phone down for a moment and stop documenting every little thing. Live in the moment.
22 – call a friend you love talking to, just to catch up and say hi and tell them you care about them.
23 – make plans to meet up friends or family for lunch or dinner. Get together with people whose company you honestly enjoy.
24 – go to see a movie or play that will make you laugh.
25 – dance. You can dance at home by yourself, you can go to a class or do Zumba, just move your body to music that makes you want to move!
26 – write in a journal.
27 – make a playlist of your favorite songs
28 – beautify your living space or your work space – Tayari Jones wrote an excellent post on this topic
29 – enjoy a regular Sunday beauty ritual that suits your needs
30 – take some ME time to just chill, be in your own head, feel your feelings and do whatever YOU want or need to do. Don’t deprive yourself of solitude. We all need time to ourselves to just BE.
So a lot of my list involves beautification rituals, but HEY. You’re reading a beauty blog! Also, I strongly believe in the power of beauty therapy. With my nails painted and my hair freshly detangled and some makeup on, I feel like a new person physically, mentally and emotionally.
I saw this image (via @NoelAshley on Instagram) and was struck by it. It’s an excerpt from a book called Choose Yourself, written by James Altucher. Basically the message here isn’t about being selfish, it’s about self preservation. So many of us are running around doing things we don’t want to do, going places we don’t really want to go, and stressing ourselves out over things we don’t even need to add to our things-to-do list. We’re making ourselves suffer unnecessarily and putting the needs of others before our own basic needs. How can you expect to successfully care or be there for others, if you haven’t taken good care of yourself? Sometimes you really do have to CHOOSE YOURSELF. Choose self care. Choose self love. Choose self preservation.
Those are my 30 suggestions, but there are so many other ways! Maybe you love gardening or knitting or painting and that’s part of your self care ritual. Please share your self care secrets with me! How do YOU take care of yourself?