Self-care seems to be all the rage lately, but what is it really? The loose definition is: anything you do deliberately to care for your mental, emotional and physical health.
That could mean downing green smoothies and meditating, or it could mean crashing with a pint of ice cream and five seasons of your new favorite show. No judgments! Ultimately, it’s a way for us to take a moment out of our lives to check in and make sure everything’s good. It doesn’t need to be an Instagram-worthy moment, but rather a way to look inward, figure ourselves out and define our boundaries. It can be hard work, even when it’s fun.
Find your groove
So how do we practice the elusive art of self-care? It’s different for everyone. If the idea of yoga, green tea, candles and gentle meditation isn’t your bag, then it’s not exactly going to work for this purpose. If you need to eat your favorite foods, relax in a citrusy bubble bath and throw on a chocolate face mask, do that instead.
But how do you know for sure what will work? To start, think of the last time you felt truly relaxed, energized or inspired. What made you feel that way? Maybe it was a lazy Sunday morning when you slept in, when you ran your fastest mile or when you reconnected with an old friend.
And remember, self-care isn’t for the benefit of others. This is completely and totally about you. If throwing up a photo on the ‘gram makes you feel good, then follow that instinct. But do it because it feels good, not because it looks good. Sometimes the best way to care for ourselves is doing unremarkable things like zoning out playing Candy Crush or staring aimlessly at the clouds—and that’s okay.
Take back your time
In a world where “busy” has come to be synonymous with “successful”, we need to have the courage to say no. Balancing a full-time job, a side hustle, relationships, volunteering, studying, meal prepping, a full-on gym routine… it can be exhausting. Many of us believe that the harder we work, the happier or more successful we’ll become, but that’s not always the case—overpacked schedules leave little time for ourselves and can cause serious burnout.
Once you’ve figured out your own definition of self-care, take control of your schedule and prioritize yourself. We know it can feel selfish but we’re here to tell you: it’s not. Self-care isn’t a luxury, it’s part of a well-balanced life that’ll keep you happy and healthy for years to come. So, go ahead and decline that invite to retirement party or weekend getaway that'll leave you feeling drained, and reclaim some time for yourself.
Reap the benefits
Putting time into self-care has far-reaching benefits like reducing stress, improving relationships and boosting self-esteem. But like anything, it takes practice—especially if you struggle to fit it into your schedule. To set yourself up for success, create a self-care routine that you’re likely to follow, even if it’s just a few minutes every day. Take note of how you feel before and after, and switch things up if it’s not working for you. Remember: there’s no right way to care for yourself, so just do you!