Recently self-care has become a hot-button (and honestly click-baity) topic for all sorts of media outlets and social media profiles to dive into. While I love that the dialogue has become more open recently into discussing the importance of self care, my big problem is that the majority of the time the the self-care movement has turned into a vanity surface-level movement. Instead of focusing on the rough and tough inner self-care, magazines publish how it is important to take the time to get your nails done or take a bubble bath. While I don’t disagree that personal hygiene and cute nails are great to have and the practice of taking time away from stressors and focusing on yourself is important, we don’t see much, if any, publications discussing the REAL self-care.
Self care is investing time in caring about yourself and taking care of your WHOLE self. There are five dimensions of self care- social, spiritual (if you’re into that), physical, emotional, and intellectual. In the mainstream the focus has been on the physical- eat right, exercise, do a face mask, etc- and has limited space left for the mental self care that is needed so desperately. The old saying goes ‘you cannot pour from an empty cup’ and the only way to fill your cup is to ensure you take time to focus on what fills your cup and what needs to be done to align yourself mentally in order to be able to give unto yourself and unto others.
In order to fill that gap that I have seen, I compiled a list of my top five REAL ways to practice self-care that you can easily tie into what the magazines are telling you to do, so now when you’re taking an afternoon off to go get your nails done you can really work on some real self-care shit.
- If you can’t afford/find a therapist, find a group of friends (or a friend) who can, and will, hold you accountable for keeping yourself sane and practicing self-care, and who will also listen when issues arise and work with your through them. Find your people, your community who are going to be there to help you work through your emotions and struggles. Make sure your person, or people, are those who can talk about the important things in life, who are willing to be there for you and work through the hard stuff with you. Hold them, and yourself, accountable for checking in on each other, and both of you must refuse to accept “I’m fine” as an answer. Dig deep with them, work through issues together, and call them when you need to.
- Take a nice bath- sans spouse and sans TV/electronics. Twice a week take a bath. Turn off the TV, turn off your phone (or keep it out of reach), get some hot water going in the tub, and add in some Epsom salts (or bubble bath if you prefer). Soak in the tub for 30 minutes to an hour and focus on your mindfulness (read up on it’s importance here). When you are able to finally get comfortable in the tub focus on your breathing, for every inhale count ‘one’ in your mind, and with every exhale count ‘two’ in your mind. Do this until other thoughts and intrusions wade away, then return to your normal breathing pattern. Next, focus on how each part of your body feels, starting from your feet and working your way up. Focus on how the tub and water feel on your feet, your legs, your back, and so on. Be in the moment, focus on the now, and breathe in and out.
- If skin care routines are a part of your self-care routine, use this time to work on your personal development by reading a “mind stretching” book or educational podcast (I’ve recently gotten WAY too into astrology and astrophysics) to expand your knowledge. Don’t use this time to listen to, or read up on, a stressful topic (such as the news) and use it as a way to work on expanding your knowledge. While your face mask dries, I also recommend working on developing and better understanding your ‘Why” behind your passions and purpose, and to do this on a consistent basis to check up on your path.
- Watch a romantic or sad movie to get your cry on. Yup, you read that right. Watch some movie that will make you cry the ugly tears. Ladies, we all know we need a good cry sometimes just to let it all out, and I am guilty AF for holding in all of my emotions and having them wreck havoc on myself physically and mentally until I reach my breaking point.
- Ban social media and the news at least one day (or one half day) a week. While I eat my morning breakfast (well, my first breakfast, my eating schedule is that of a Hobbit) I read the morning news or intake it via podcasts to see what has been going on. Some days that leaves me in a good mood, but most days that starts me off on the wrong foot. And then add into the pressure and toxicity of too much social media, and you have a recipe for mental health disaster. Once a week I spend a day with no news and no social media and spend time being unplugged and living in the moment, this helps reset my mind to focus on things happening directly TO ME that day, give myself a break from the harshness and hard shit happening in society, and allows myself time to heal, if needed, from seeing the tough topics being covered in today’s world. Then, when I come back to the real world the next day, I’m a bit refreshed and have the ability to intake more of what is going on since purging it from my system for a bit.
- BONUS: Take your meds. Plain and simple, if you were prescribed medication, take them. If you feel they aren’t doing the job, schedule time with your doctor to find out why and update your prescription. But people, please take your meds.