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What Self-Care Really Is (And It’s Not What You Think)

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When I say “self-care,” what does it make you think of? Does it make you think of face masks, bubble baths and eating all the sweets you can? Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that’s not what self-care is.

Self-care is what you do to take care of yourself, essentially. It’s what you do to make sure you are living the best way you can.

Lately, self-care has become something that is more and more talked about, when it always should’ve been talked about this much. But the truth is, in today’s world, we need self-care now more than ever before. We are constantly working, busy running errands, taking care of our family or any number of things. We are always doing something, and it has gotten us to the point where we end up stressed, sometimes depressed, lost, confused and unsure of what to do. It feels like we should keep going, but our bodies are about ready to give up. It feels like “laziness” if we just sit around and do nothing. We end up burnt out. We don’t know how to breathe anymore. We don’t know how to take a break. It’s always go, go, go.

Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s necessary. It’s what we need to do so we don’t end up burnt out. It’s what we need to keep going.

Real self-care isn’t all that luxurious, to be honest with you. It’s taking care of yourself, yes, but not just in the physical sense; it’s mentally and emotionally as well. Let’s talk about physical self-care. This can include taking the time to bathe yourself every day. This may seem like an obvious thing to do, but if you live with a mental illness, sometimes this is one of the more difficult things to get yourself to do. Brushing your teeth every day can be another way to engage in self-care. Again, something that is easy to neglect when you’re feeling especially down. It can include getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night. It can be taking a walk, drinking water every day or eating well. I know firsthand that some if not all of these can be a challenge when you’re not feeling 100%, but they are all so important. They are things we need to start doing if we expect our lives to get any better.

Onto mental self-care, this can include just about anything that helps to reduce your stress levels or makes you happier. This can include going for a walk outside. Just being outside in nature can work wonders, with the fresh air and everything beautiful that surrounds you out there. It can include reading a book, turning off your phone, building a puzzle or coloring something.

Emotional self-care is what helps to take care of our emotional well-being. It can include writing in a journal, seeing a therapist, deep breathing, paying attention to your thoughts and challenging them if they are negative. It can be making time to do absolutely nothing but sit there and rest. It can include practicing gratitude and becoming aware of everything around you. If self-care was easy, then maybe it wouldn’t be as trendy a topic as it is now because everyone would already be doing it. Self-care is what we need. If we don’t take care of ourselves, then what kind of life are we really living?

Photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash

Originally published: January 8, 2020
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