Self care is definitely having a moment in our culture. It’s not uncommon to see it touted in major publications like Forbes and other major news outlets. Self care apps are plentiful. There are podcasts. The concept of self care is permeating our culture. And this simple fact is creating an odd scenario where there can be undue pressure to practice self care.
For a moment, let’s consider what self care really means. When you hear the words, your brain may conjure images of soulful journaling, a luxurious bubble bath in a huge soaker tub, or getting a full eight hours of sleep each night. Perhaps our expectations of self care or what we need to do to successfully exhibit self care are glamorized, or even romanticized.
What if self care simply means to take care of yourself in the ways that make a positive, meaningful impact on your life? What if it isn’t the pretty picture meditating on a cliff overlooking the ocean? What if it means wading through the mile-high pile of papers on your desk so that you feel more organized and calm at home? What if it means saying no to a social outing so that you can workout, read a book, or get some extra sleep? What if it means taking a night out of the house and away from your spouse/partner/family to reflect on your personal goals and dreams?
The Oxford English Dictionary defines self care as “The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.” I really like this definition save for that last clause. “Protecting one’s own well-being and happiness”…wow. That’s powerful.
Self care is somewhat obvious in that it is all about you. However determining your ideal self care ideas and habits may be a little more complicated. It’s about finding habits, defining your personal priorities, and establishing what is necessary for you to live a healthy and happy life. I encourage my wellness coaching clients to consider any wellness practice a bit like a science experiment. Each time you set out to enhance your wellness whether it be through a meditation practice or through more movement in your daily life, you will embark on an experimental journey to learn what works and what does not work for you. Along the way, you may find that a certain habit does not align with your goals, values, and preferences. That simply tells you it’s time for a new experiment!
One of the critical elements of self care is that it is conscious and autonomous. That means that any element of your self care should be executed with attentiveness and of your own free will without feeling like you should be doing it because of some external pressure. You are the only person who can decide what your self care routine and practices should look like. While you may seek inspiration from friends, colleagues, and possibly social media, your routine is all about you.
What are your favorite self care practices? In an upcoming post I’ll share my own self care routine.
This is what self care really means because it’s not all salt baths and chocolate cake from Thought Catalog
What self care is – and what it isn’t from Psych Catalog