Self-care is the buzziest of buzzwords lately. Instagram is full of mani/pedis and bubblebaths all in the name of #selfcare. And, don’t get me wrong, those things CAN be self-care. It’s just that those insta-worthy examples are certainly not all-encompassing. Self-care looks different for every single person because, well, it’s for YOURself. Not what your mom needs, not what your spouse needs. You.
Which is why when we see #selfcare everywhere on the interwebs, it kind of gets a bad rap. It can appear like self-care is forever and only putting yourself above everyone else. Which is not AT ALL the original intention behind it.
Self-care is taking care of your own needs so that you can show up as your best self in all areas of your life.
Self-care isn’t selfish. Quite the contrary, it’s actually very selfless to give the best of yourself to someone else. And that’s only possible when you take care of yourself.
Let’s look at the oxygen mask example. If you’ve ever been on a plane and they’re going through the safety spiel before the plane takes off, they tell you that if you’re flying with small children and there’s a change in cabin pressure, “Place the mask on yourself FIRST and THEN help others around you.” You are NO GOOD to anyone if you haven’t taken care of yourself.
That example breaks down a bit because it’s talking about self-care (the mask) in an emergency. Self-care isn’t just meant for when the plane is going down and your life is in crisis. Self-care is one of the best preventatives out there to keep you from getting to the point of crisis. It also gives you margin when chaos does inevitably hit.
Even though the “face of self-care” is often binging Netflix with zero interruptions from another human, it doesn’t necessarily have to be something you do by yourself. That’s the beauty of self-care--it’s whatever it is that will keep you healthy and refuel you. Sometimes it’s going for a run, sometimes it’s eating a cookie. It could be making time to have meaningful conversation with your spouse or it could be choosing to put your kids in front of a show so you can go sit in silence for a few minutes. Massages, journaling, making healthy meals at the beginning of the week so you aren’t hitting the drive-thru on your way to kids’ practices, going to bed on time, actually taking a lunch break, using your vacation days, getting your chiropractic adjustments...all examples of self-care. (You didn’t think I wouldn’t sneak that one in, did you?)
It doesn’t even have to be DOING something. Kendra Hennessy of Mother Like a Boss says that one of her favorite ways to practice self-care is by setting boundaries. By actually saying no to things that won’t serve her or her family. By not taking on another obligation for the sake of “should-ing” all over yourself.
Self-care is important all year long, but at this time of the year, it can become glaringly obvious when it’s not happening. When our schedules are full, nights are long, and not-so-nutritious food is a-plenty, the more preventative work we can do for our minds, spirits, and bodies, the better. That way, when you’re listening to your Great Aunt tell you again that she doesn’t like the way you’re wearing your hair, you can take a deep breath, and think of the good book and bubble bath waiting for you at home.