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When the idea of self-care was first introduced to me, I didn’t get it at all.
I thought it was something to do with baths and hand cream, and initially, doing it was just ticking another box in my recovery journey.
My relationship with it has, of course, changed and evolved over the years as I’ve deepened into what it really means and what it looks like for me personally. Because for some of us, it looks like baths and hand creams, for others, it’s blaring music and dancing around, or it could be a run, yoga, stretching, art, music, reading, or writing—the list is endless.
But there are also aspects of self-care that I’ve realised the importance of in the last few years that we may not think of as often. And they’re the ones I want to look at today.
Here are five acts of self-care that are incredibly beneficial:
1. Setting Boundaries
This is simply the wisdom of when to say yes and when to say no. Setting boundaries is the safeguard to our aliveness—to our felt sense of feeling good, connected to ourselves and to others. This can look like: finishing work on time, saying “no” to a night out when you’re exhausted, asking to not discuss certain things to preserve your energy, creating a boundary around your physical space, or putting your phone on flight mode or taking a break from it altogether (among many others!).
It’s a form of self-respect and is key to protecting our energy and building our self-esteem.
Are you being self-caring with your boundaries?
2. Reaching out for help
Getting help when we know we need it is a huge element of self-care. We don’t have to figure everything out alone. And we can get to where we want to go faster if we enlist the guidance of someone who’s already walked the path and knows how to navigate it. Even if it makes us uncomfortable to ask or we hate the vulnerability of it, it is a beautiful act of self-care to ask for support when we need it.
I know many of us try to get through challenges by ourselves, thinking we “should” know better or we “should” be able to get through it on our own. As always, “shoulds“ do not necessarily have our best interests at heart.
Do what you know you need to do, which isn’t always going to be what you want to do.
Are you holding back on reaching out?
3. Calling out our own BS
This one is a game-changer. When we can start lovingly calling ourselves out on what isn’t serving us, we start making real progress. You can criticise yourself all day long and bring awareness to it, “knowing“ how you could change it—but if you don’t actually stop yourself mid-thought and rewrite it, or choose a more loving thought, you’re continuing to do yourself a disservice.
Knowledge is only potential power; executing what we “know” we need to do is the key to change. This one helped me so much to redirect my thinking.
I started hearing when it was fear’s voice in place of my own and I decided I wasn’t tolerating it anymore. Or when I was slacking on doing what was suggested to me, or when I could see myself doing self-destructive actions, I had to be the voice that spoke up.
We’re the only ones with ourselves all the time; we’ve got to hold ourselves accountable if we want to live in integrity and enjoy the changes we say we want.
Are you tolerating old patterns that you say you want to change or are you actively changing them?
4. Using triggers as teachers
Again, this one is a profoundly powerful self-caring choice. When we get triggered, it’s our responsibility to heal whatever is being triggered. When we’re reactive or defensive or avoidant, there’s a lesson hidden in there that we need to learn. (Even if in the moment we really don’t want to try find it.)
If we choose to go through life feeling ill-equipped to deal with whatever we could be faced with, we’re not learning to stand in our power. I get that this is not easy work, but it is work that we can do. And when we do, we are better able to navigate our way through the world with confidence, strength, and freedom. We deepen our self-trust, we regulate our nervous systems, and we teach ourselves that we are capable of handling life.
Are you choosing to see and apply the learnings in challenges, triggers, and reactive moments?
5. Keeping the promises we make
Whenever we tell ourselves we’re going to do something, self-care means following through on that. Every time we break a promise to ourselves or neglect to follow through on our commitments, we are demonstrating that what we say to ourselves doesn’t matter. We are weakening our self-trust. We are telling ourselves that we’re not worth following through for. Not very caring.
Self-care means deciding that the promises you make to yourself are as valued and important as any you make to anyone else. Make your word matter. Show yourself you care enough to show up for you.
Are you letting yourself break the promises you make to yourself consistently?
These practices may not be as easy as a few minutes of meditation or lighting some scented candles in the evening, but they are the firm foundations of sustained self-support, self-esteem, and self-love. They are the means to deeply show ourselves the care we need and they are the key to recharging ourselves and reclaiming our power.
You deserve your own care. You deserve your own support. You deserve to give yourself what you need.
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