5 REASONS WHY SELF-CARE SHOULD BE YOUR BEST FRIEND
"Not this again.” You probably thought that as you rolled your eyes at me. “Not ANOTHER person telling me self-care is important and great and healing and blah blah blah… I get it! Being selfish is “good.” Taking me time is “important.” Whatever. I don’t want/have time for that.”
Friend, you are not alone in thinking that. In fact, I thought that. All of that, and yes, I rolled my eyes every time I saw someone talking about self-care. I had it in my head that self-care is really selfish and probably expensive and kind of gross. I wanted none of that. I didn’t want to feel like I needed to do anything for myself. I was just fine. Nothing to see here, move along.
You probably know how the rest of this story goes… Girl denies self-care. Says she’s tougher than that. Says she isn’t that selfish. Says self-care is a luxury for those who feel like indulging. Then girl starts noticing all of the people she admires talking about self-care. They say it’s important. They say it’s healing. They say it isn’t optional if you want to be healthy + happy. She starts to pay attention. She starts to deal with the way she’s demonized it in her head. She starts to realize all of the things she already does for self-care. Then she discovers the healing benefits and wants to shout them from the rooftops! Someone should stop that girl before she convinces another unbeliever to change their mind. Noooooo….
Here I am. She’s me. Or I’m her. Whichever way you want to look at it.
You probably think I'm about to tell you that my life has been changed by self-care and it's all magic and rainbows over here for me. You might also be thinking I'm about to list 5 reasons why self-care should be your best friend. Well, you'd be wrong. I tricked you with that title, sorry.
Listen, I don't have time/I'm not interested in/I don't care to know about someone else's perfect right now and I bet you aren't either. I'm interested in the long-game. I want to care about tomorrow as much as I care about today. I want to invest in the future for myself, my happiness, my health, my well-being. I want that for you, too. I want you to be thinking about your future, happiness, and well-being.
Personally, I'm not all that interested in "5 easy steps," or "6 reasons why self-care rocks," or "3 days to your best self." OK, OK, another lie, I am interested in those things (what is going on today?). I'm really drawn to those quick fixes. Most people are. BUT I know that for me, for the long-game, for my future, I need more than a quick fix. I need a permanent and sustainable change.
I don't know about you but I'm not the kind of person who can decide to make a change and then do it. I don't wake up in the morning ready to tackle all of life's challenges. I've never been able to stick to a diet of any kind and I'm not sure I'll ever know what a routine is like. It just isn't me. Which is why "self-care" always felt like some weirdly unattainable and undesirable new list of things I MUST DO RIGHT NOW. No thank you. If you need me, I'll be watching Elementary for the 5th time on Hulu cause I can't even with anything right now.
What was I even talking about?
Oh, right, how much I've learned to appreciate self-care.
Somewhere along the way (while someone was probably having to drag me kicking and screaming on the way to a better life) I realized that there were things I was already doing that were self-care.
Like taking extra time to get ready and pay attention to my makeup on days I don't feel good.
Like spending 45 minutes in the shower every once in awhile because it makes me feel relaxed.
Like shutting myself in my room and watching TV in bed for an entire day once a month (sometimes more if I'm being totally honest).
Like getting up on a Sunday morning and getting my favorite coffee and a donut and sitting in silence downtown.
I could go on but you're probably getting bored. The point is, I was already doing things to take care of myself, I just didn't want to call it "self-care" because, well, that felt weird and selfish.
Here's the thing, self-care is not selfish.
Say it with me.
Self-care. is. not. selfish.
It's not. When you are happy, I mean mentally, physically, emotionally, happy, then your friendships are better, your relationship is stronger, the energy you put out into the world is just better. Ew, gross did I really just say "energy?" I just rolled my eyes at myself. Moving on. You can't be happy in all of those areas if you're not taking care of yourself.
If you need to take a really long shower once a week- do it. If you need to go for a long drive and listen to music alone- do it. If you need to go out for drinks with friends- do it. If you need to spend time feeling hurt or pain from something- just f****** do it! Don't let anyone tell you not to.
Not everyone will need to do these things. That's important to know and remember. Not everyone needs to processes things internally or slowly or deeply in-touch with whatever pain they are feeling. That's completely fine. But if you are one of those people who needs those things (as I raise my hand), it's so important for you to know that about yourself. Know your limits. Know when you need to take a break and do something for yourself. And if you're not one of those people, please, please, please, know that not everyone is like you. Not everyone can processes things quickly and relatively pain-free. Not everyone can bounce back like you do or charge ahead like you do or take on the world like you do. Strength shows itself in different ways in different people.
We all owe it to ourselves and to each other to know which person we are. When we know ourselves we are then able to know others and when we can do that, we can help those closest to us process life in the way that works best for them, not us. I'm not going to lie to you, that is super hard to do. We all tend to react to others the way we react to ourselves. We offer advice based on ourselves and we expect results and reactions based on ourselves. It's incredibly difficult to stop yourself from doing that and take the time and energy to respond to someone and support someone in the way that works best from them. But it is so worth it.
Maybe for you self-care looks like a day at the beach. Maybe it's just 5 minutes of silence. It doesn't really matter what it is, as long as it brings you more joy and more rest. I asked some friends what they think about or like to do for self care and here's what they said:
Self-care is a journey. It takes time to learn to take care of ourselves in a way that is truly restorative and helpful. Yesterday I took a four hour nap on the couch and it was the best thing I've done for myself in weeks. It was the first time in a long time that laying down in the middle of the day felt like self-care.
I'll tell you a secret. Most days I don't get out of bed until 9:30 and I accomplish almost nothing. Most days I let myself feel so bad and so unqualified to be doing what I want to do that I just mope around and watch TV or waste time on YouTube. That is not self-care. That is laziness and self-deprecation. There is this thin line between doing something to really take care of yourself and doing something to avoid living your life. At least, there is for me. But yesterday when I took a four hour nap I knew it was self-care because I had been doing things. I've gone to the gym twice this week, which is more than I've gone in one week for almost a year. I wrote a blog post and edited my first podcast episode and organized ideas for social media posts. I listened to two webinars and went to the grocery store and cleaned the house. I'm not saying any of that to be like, "GUYS LOOK HOW MUCH I ACCOMPLISHED!!!" I'm saying it to point out that it wasn't my normal state of being. My normal state of being involves avoiding doing anything that will help me accomplish anything in life. In that state of being taking a four hour nap would be avoiding life and probably feeling sorry for myself. But yesterday it was restorative and wonderful. Yesterday it was because I've been doing things.
I told you that so you can examine what you're doing for your self-care and decide if you're doing it to bring yourself more joy and rest or you're doing it to avoid living your life. Friend, I want you to live your best life. I want you to have more joy and rest. I want you to accomplish everything you want in life and more. And I want you to take time every now and then to show yourself some love and exercise your self-care muscle.
I hope this has been encouraging to you. I hope you feel empowered to do something today or this week that is just for you. I hope you can let go of thinking that self-care is selfish. I hope you see the difference between avoiding life and taking care of yourself. I hope you have the best week you can have.
It would mean so much to me if you would take a few minutes and let me know what ways you like to take care of yourself. Leave me a comment below and let me know! Thank you, friend!