Why self-care is non-negotiable and how to do it (Self-Care Part I)

Happiness Collective definition for self-care: (verb) actions or effort made to maintain emotional, physical, mental, social, and/or spiritual well-being. 

Let's talk about our relationship with ourselves. All day we ask ourselves to perform, to think at work, to stay calm in stressful situations, to run errands, to carry us through that difficult workout, etc. How often do we give back to ourselves? In ideal relationships, we would like to have that which we give, to be equally reciprocated. We give love, we'd like to receive love. We nurture and we'd like to be nurtured. What we give back to ourselves should also be equal to that which we ask of ourselves. Our relationship with ourselves is the foundation for all other relationships. Often, our relationship with ourself mirrors our relationship with others. If we fail to care for ourself, we may end up in relationships where we put others' needs above our own. We may end up in relationships where our voice isn't valued or heard. If you want healthy relationships, start with the one with yourself. Self-care is a perfect place to start. Self-care is also about just what it sounds like: caring for ourselves. Self-care is about showing ourself love. Self-care is about re-energizing, cleansing ourselves emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually. Self-care is about flushing distress, decreasing anxiety, boosting our mood. Self-care is about refilling our gas tank. I will be writing a more in depth post about self-care, how to maintain balanced self-care, and how to care for each part of ourselves. This post is simply an introduction to self-care and why you should absolutely, non-negotiably be doing it. You can't drive your car day in an day out without refilling the gas tank, getting regular repairs, regular oil changes done. We are the same way. We cannot maintain balance, well-being, mental clarity, emotional well-being without regular maintenance and recharging. Self-care should be a daily habit. It doesn't have to be time or energy consuming. I will list some simple self-care activities below:

Short Self-Care Activities:

  • Savoring a cup of tea
  • painting your nails
  • 5 long, calm, deep breaths
  • Taking a moment to revel in the magnificence of life
  • Watching a sunrise or sunset
  • Indulging in a piece of dark chocolate
  • Reading inspiring quotes
  • Looking at beautiful pictures
  • Listening to your favorite song
  • Buy yourself fresh flowers
  • Light a scented candle
  • Taking the scenic route to work

Longer Self-Care Activities:

  • Meditation
  • Walk
  • Music on in the car, singing at the top of your lungs
  • Nature
  • Cuddling
  • Journaling
  • Gratitude lists
  • Bubble baths or hot showers
  • Dry brushing
  • Yoga
  • Having a good cry
  • Living room dance sesh
  • Adult Coloring
  • Art/Creative work
  • Vacation
  • Massage
  • Reading

There are infinite more possibilities. The only requirement is that if makes you feel good. One person's self-care activities might not work for another, so find what fits for you. The point is just to practice self-care. Fit it into your day any way you can!

Finally there are two requirements for self-care:

  1. Mindfulness. Focus your awareness on the experience of your activity/action. Savoring a cup of tea involves focusing on the smell of the tea, the way the warm cup feels in between your hands, the taste of your tea, the sensation as it enters your mouth and moves slowly down your throat into your stomach. If I sipped my tea without that awareness, it would be a very different experience or lack thereof.
  2. Intention. Intention gives actions meaning. Do your self-care activity with the intention of showing your self love, or nurturing yourself, of tending to your mind body and spirit. Do not do your self-care because you feel you need to change, because you feel you're not good enough. Example: If I go to yoga because I feel like I need to lose weight and look a certain way it is a very different experience than if I go to yoga because I want to show my mind, body, and spirit some love. Different experience, different energy, different mental and emotional effects.

There is so much more I can say about self-care but this post serves as a general introduction to the topic. Please care for yourself on a regular basis. You must refill your tank, or you will burn out. Life will drain you rather than sustain you without self-care. Start small if you must but aim to practice at least one self-care activity everyday ideally multiple. Find what works for you, find things you love and enjoy.