Self-care has become a culturally popular topic. It’s common to hear people talk about self-care in casual conversation or mention it on social media. When depicted this way, you usually see the same things — doing exercise, drinking water, taking a bath, etc. But what does self-care actually mean?
Self-care looks different for everyone.
It doesn’t necessarily mean taking a bath, journaling, meditating, or any of the other things that pop up on social media. Depending on who you are, these things might help, or they might feel like work. You could be doing these things, but then wonder why you still feel exhausted. When you do things that are supposed to be “self-care” but they don’t have a positive effect, this may be superficial self-care.
So, how do we battle superficial self-care? We practice authentic self-care.
Self-care that works for you is called “authentic self-care”. Before looking at what it is, let’s look at what it isn’t.
Authentic self-care is not:
Authentic self-care is:
Self-care maintains your health. It shouldn’t harm you. That said, sometimes it’s okay to do things that are technically bad for you, as long as they’re done in moderation. That goes for both physical and mental health.
Self-care should be something that you look forward to, not something you force yourself to do. It can also be something that feels harder at the time but makes you happier in the end (i.e., saying no to a commitment or not doing an activity).
Self-care should be sustainable. It should fit into your routine and honour your needs. For example, if your self-care routine involves daily exercise, is it sustainable to run two hours every day? Maybe. But you will probably cause more stress on your body and mind in the process.
The same goes for less concrete actions, such as wanting to spend time with your loved ones. Is it sustainable to say yes to everything you’re asked to do? Maybe, but you’ll probably get burnt out. Authentic self-care is prioritizing your mental and physical health when you’re deciding whether or not to do something.
It’s important to remember that self-care is not selfish. It’s also not something to do in reaction to something bad. It’s a routine or habit that can help you maintain your health in both day-to-day life and through hardships. It can be flexible. It’s asking yourself “what do I need right now to take care of myself?”.
Self-care can help you focus on what you can control in your life. Instead of waiting for the good moments to come, you can use self-care to create them in the present.
Lastly, just because it’s called self-care, it doesn’t mean you have to do it on your own. Sometimes self-care means asking for help, leaning on your support network, or reaching out to a therapist.
If you want to learn more practical ways to practice authentic self-care, watch my webinar on YouTube.
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