At first, “self-care” sounds pretty straightforward. You’re taking care of yourself and doing things that make you feel good about yourself. This is often associated with relaxing and the images of face masks, bath bombs, doing yoga, and reading with a cup of tea. Self-care can also include cleaning out your closet, watching your favorite show when work or homework gets too overwhelming, and, of course, “treating yourself.”
All of these things are completely valid forms of self-care (we’ve talked about a good majority of them too). However, while they feel great, self-care is not just about doing things that feel good, but are the actions you take to make sure your emotional, physical, and mental needs are being met so you can function and go about your daily routines as healthily as possible.
It’s one thing to take care of yourself and have a “me-day,” but while that feeling is great at the time, sometimes it’s only just a distraction from what’s really bothering you. And this is where self-care isn’t as fun. In order to meet those basic needs, you may have to confront the things that are upsetting you and causing mental strains that can lead to burnout, heightened anxiety, or explosions at other people from pent-up frustrations.
Sometimes confronting these things and taking the steps to change habits and ways of thinking can be harder than we want to admit. Trying to change bad habits ranging from biting your nails to smoking are a form of self-care. Going to therapy and talking to a therapist about things you may have buried is a form of self-care. Making the effort to follow through with plans and socializing when you usually try to find ways to stay home instead is self-care. By tackling these barriers and working through things that can seem scary and difficult at first, you’re taking the steps forward in order to become a better you.
Self-care for everyone looks different. It can be both fun and terrifying. And to get a little cliche, self-care can be going out in a storm to see the rainbow that shines after.
What do you think self-care is? Have you ever had a difficult conversation or been in a difficult situation that you found actually helped you after?