Did you know that May is mental health awareness month? I’ve spoken often on the blog about the importance of taking care of yourself mentally and physically. But I think the term self care has become overused and misdefined lately.
So, let’s get really clear and simple on what self care is and how you practice it, because it’s a lot less complex than it’s made to be.
In its purest form, self care simply means taking care of yourself. It’s not an elaborate treat or an expensive luxury only available to few, it’s a literal necessity. We should all be taking care of ourselves as best as we possibly can. We need to keep ourselves alive and well if we have any intention on doing anything else, like having a career or even a fun hobby.
Oftentimes I think that we use treat yo’self and self care interchangeably, which is a bit problematic. When I’m treating myself, I’m splurging on an upgraded, longer pedicure or upgrading my seat on a flight. Small things, that usually are costly, that make me feel good in the moment but rarely have long term effects on my overall mental health.
Self care is self sustaining. Practicing it helps me live a better and happier life.
And while we’re on the topic of defining things, let’s talk about what self care is not.
It is not avoiding your responsibilities or allowing yourself to overindulge in things that aren’t good for you. Like when I should be writing posts or editing video, but then decide to watch Harry Potter movies for 6 hours instead… that isn’t self care. It’s procrastination. And while it may feel good in the moment, it definitely hurts me in the long run (i.e. when I’m up at 1a.m. trying to make words happen because I’m so behind on posting).
In everything, there should be balance…even in finding that balance. In order to bring value into our lives and into the lives of others, we have to take care of ourselves. Fill your own up before you pour into another.
Sarah wrote an essay about the art of self care that I think is spot on. In it, she mentions Mike Foster’s “canteen exercise,” where you treat yourself as a canteen needing to be filled, and use different categories of self-care to fill it. Those categories are broken down into daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual practices.
When I think of how I practice self-care, it usually shakes out into daily, weekly and monthly splits. Here are some of my self care best practices, broken down into these categories:
- Morning pages. I’m working on an updated post about them and journaling as a whole, but it’s become a essential part of my days. I feel a huge difference when I don’t do them in how I feel and in how cluttered my mind is during the day.
- Morning and evening skincare. It’s as simple as washing, toning and moisturizing each day, morning and night. Something that I pretty much do on autopilot, but makes me feel so good.
- Reading. You all know I’m a huge book nerd, but it’s not for nothing! Getting lost in another character’s issues for a few pages does wonders for helping me get out of my own head.
- Making meals. Cooking in great for your mental health, as preparing food for yourself sends triggers to your brain that you’re doing good things. Taking 10 minutes to make a salad or spending an hour trying a new recipe both do wonders.
- Cleaning. My little apartment gets so messy and dusty if I don’t spend a good amount of time cleaning. I throw a podcast, playlist or audiobook on and just clean until everything is tidy and in it’s place. Sometimes this takes 30 minutes, sometimes it takes 2 hours. I only do it to get my apartment to a state that works for me, not for guests or anyone else (sorry dad).
- Mani/Pedi. I actually do this bi-weekly, and it’s one of my favorite things because you really can’t multitask while someone is holding your hands hostage until UV light. I occasionally read (between jumping due to be super ticklish) during my pedicures or listen to a podcast or audiobook, but I try to just zone out during this time.
- Face masks. I’m obsessed with masking these days because it’s so easy and feels so great. I’ve left masks on for hours while doing other things (or…accidentally falling asleep). But at least once a week, I go all out doing multi-masking and playing around with new products and testing samples.
I don’t have any one thing I do every month for self-care, but I’ve been thinking more and more about what that would even look like. Honestly, if I could spend one Saturday out of every month doing nothing but lounging on my couch or bed reading a book from cover to cover, that would be heaven. There’s something about reading a book cover to cover in one sitting that makes the reading experience and day so amazing.
How often do you practice self care? And what are your go-to practices? I’d love to hear how you’re all taking care of yourselves in the comments!