What Does Self-Care Mean?
In a nutshell, self-care is any activity that we incorporate into our daily lives that creates balance and fulfills our mental, emotional, and physical needs.
As simple as it seems, it can be very difficult to execute. Why? Though appropriate self-care has been linked to overall improved mood and reduced anxiety, it can be incredibly challenging to find the right balance for you, and for those who are around you. Additionally, it seems even more arduous to overcome the fictitious guilt that taking care of yourself isn’t actually “selfish.”
What Doesn’t Self-Care Mean?
“I pushed myself. I gave of myself. I gave and gave and gave, until I no longer knew who I really was. I was beginning to think I didn’t really exist at all. Any space I took up was only to assess and service someone else’s needs. But, what were my needs? I didn’t seem to know…” – said every person with lupus…ever.
“Self-care is never a selfish act—it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.”-Parker Palmer
Knowing what self-care isn’t is even more important than knowing what it is. Self-care does not equate to selfishness. Self-care isn’t vanity, self-righteousness, or narcissism. It isn’t overindulgence either. It is the acknowledgment that if you don’t take care of yourself, you will not be able to take care of others. It is understanding what we need in order to be a healthy functioning human being and take care of ourselves as a whole – so we have the energy, enthusiasm, and empathy to give to those around us.
Here are the basics of self-care:
Make a list of things that bring you joy, peace, and centering. It might be taking a walk, a bath, or listening to a daily meditation or guided prayer lesson. Over time try to incorporate the forms of self-care that work best for you into a consistent routine. Get into a rhythm of setting time for appropriate and necessary self-care.
Add your self-care activities to your calendar, be vocal about them with family and friends, and be intentional with seeking out opportunities to enhance your self-care routines. Self-care is something that you have to actively plan, it is not going to just happen on its own.
Be mindful of why you are choosing to participate in self-care when you are doing it. You might need to repeat a mantra to yourself like this, “I need to do this for myself because my body is worthy of being taken care of.” Take a mental inventory of what you choose to do, how it feels, and what you feel like after.