We hear it in excess these days, but what exactly is self-care?
Self-care is not always face masks, “treating yo’self”, or just exercising. It includes those, but it goes beyond the physical realm and that is an aspect I believe we can all easily forget. Growing up in a Southern Baptist household, I unintentionally developed an aversion to faith in general. I was tired of hearing that things were out of my control and I had to trust and believe in something that was just not tangible to me for my life to be better. Rewind 10 years, and if you told me I’d be looking into numerology and manifestation, I would have laughed in your face, in fact, I laughed in my sister’s face anytime she tried to tell me about it. I was naive.
In 2016, I began dating for the first time and wound up in the ER and was in psychiatric care. I did not like myself, I was searching for external validation and it kept coming up short. It was kind of a wake-up call…I made the decision to really get to know myself, to find myself underneath all of the damage. Part of self-care is learning to care about yourself and nurture the activities that make you, you. I began practicing photography again, I started going out to experience new things, I dyed my hair a wild color to see if I felt more like me (and yes, I did); I explored the possibilities to who I could have been.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy
During that journey, I gained knowledge of mindfulness and DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy). I began to realize that my anxiety was a huge problem for me. I would spend most of my time either being worried about something that would most likely not happen or worrying about a random interaction I had a few hours ago. Let me tell you, that is torture. Mindfulness is pretty much staying in the present and focusing on the now. You cannot change the past or control the future, all you can do is focus on how you live and react in this moment as it is the only thing in your control. As scary as that may sound, once you have that realization it becomes freeing. You can incorporate mindfulness into your every day life:
- While eating, focus on you the textures, temperatures, and taste. This helps your mind not wander onto anything worrisome and allows you to enjoy the moment of nourishing your body.
- When walking, turn your attention to the sounds around you. If you are in nature, try to hear all of the different sounds you can hear from the world around you. Listen to your footsteps, the dog barking in the distance, anything to keep you in your body in the present.
DBT was a huge lifesaver, it teaches you how to live in the moment, cope with stress, regulate emotions, and improve relationships with those around you. This is a path I have not fully discovered and will in the future so…stay tuned!
The Art of Mindfulness
Mindfulness soon turned into me turning to the world of spirituality. I began shadow work, reparenting my inner child, all of this while attending therapy, taking my medications, and forming a daily routine for myself. I can become stagnant, I can lose drive very easily, but day by day I work my hardest. To be honest, writing another blog post so soon is a testament to myself that I am progressing. My spirituality practice helps me get to know myself better, it is teaching me to love every part of me, to nurture myself so I can grow into the woman I have always been (she is just hiding in there). Don’t worry, I will go much more into my spiritual practices in future posts.
Let’s Get Physical
Another big thing I have learned about self-care is physical health. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind and vice versa. This year, I was inspired (by Beyonce’s Homecoming?) to really start being active. I am not a runner, but I have gotten out and ran, am signing up for kickboxing classes and taking yoga every Saturday, and let me tell you, the endorphins that are released after working out…it is real. To keep my health up, I have began to keep a food journal, I am an emotional eater, I eat ALL of my feelings. It was making me sluggish and unhappy, so now as an act of self-care, everything that I put into my body I ask myself, “what will this do for my body?”. What nourishment will this food give me? If it’s nothing, I do not want it (well most of the time). Taking better care of my physical body has made me personally feel better overall.
And of course, my self-care rituals do include face masks, heavily moisturizing, treating myself, and soaking up that Vitamin D. There is no one way to do self-care, it is a whole process, it is your lifestyle, it is you honoring and taking care of yourself in the ways that you need.
Learning about yourself and acknowledging parts of yourself that you need to work on is self-care. Holding yourself accountable for your actions and making the effort to work harder to live your life to the fullest is self-care. Treating yourself, exercising, eating your favorite food, are all in the category of self-care and it is up to you to determine what works best for you! I am still a work in progress and am constantly working on these skills. The road is not always easy or smooth, but together we can get through this and conquer all. What are some things you do for self-care days?