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What Self-Care Actually Looks Like (it’s not always glamorous)

The term “self-care” has become pretty trendy and idealized these days, especially in the wellness industry.

There’s a mainstream belief that has convinced us that we need to treat ourselves to weekly spa days, take long vacations, buy expensive candles and essential oils, and read all the self-help books in order to do self-care the “right” way. While all of these things are generally great and can certainly be aspects of our self-care routine, real self-care encompasses so much more than that.

Self-care is beautiful and ugly and everything in between. Self-care isn’t always luxuious, although it can be. It can be anything that we deliberately do to positively impact our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Self-care looks different on everyone, and it’s supposed to.

Self-care is making sure our essential needs are met (like practicing good hygiene, having enough food and water, getting restful sleep). Self-care means recognizing the relationship we have with ourselves and prioritizing it. It’s about making an intentional effort to honor how we are feeling and to do our best every single day.

If I were to ask you to think about all the people you love and care for, how long would it take you to think of yourself?

When we love someone deeply, it’s easy to care for them, right? When we cherish someone’s relationship, we do all that we can do honor and support them. When we appreciate someone, we make sure they know it. So why is it so hard to do the same for ourselves?

The truth is many of us struggle to value ourselves enough as we deserve. We’ve been conditioned to believe we aren’t good enough. We’ve been taught to put everyone’s needs in front of our own because it’s selfish if we choose ourselves first.

I believe there is a big difference between selfishness and prioritizing self-care. Selfishness is putting our own wants before the needs of others. Self-care is putting our own needs above the wants of others. When we practice discernment and honesty we can maintain clear communication with our loved ones to ensure mutual respect and understanding.

We can’t be our best for each other if we aren’t the best for ourselves. Daily self-care helps us to refill our cup and recharge our batteries so that we can show up for others just as compassionately as we show up for ourselves, without feeling drained or taken advantage of.

Self-care starts by reconnecting with ourselves. We need to acknowledge and understand where we are and what we need in order to provide proper care. We need to recognize that our needs will change and know how to adapt. When we come to the realization that self-care is more than just pampering ourselves, we can commit to something that serves us beyond the surface level.

So what does self-care actually look like? Self-care might look like admitting you need help and then asking for it. Self-care might look like setting boundaries and learning that it’s okay to say no. Self-care might look like choosing not to avoid your problems and focusing on finding a solution. Self-care might look like allowing yourself to feel and move through all your emotions instead of numbing them. Self-care might look like pushing yourself past your comfort zone to try new things. Self-care might look like taking a nap when the dishes are dirty because your body is asking for rest. Self-care might look like practicing mindfulness in line at the grocery store. Self-care might look like pausing to take deep breaths before hopping in the shower. Self-care might look like singing your favorite song on your drive to work. Self-care might look like having a difficult conversation while speaking your truth. Self-care might look like being okay with not being universally liked. Self-care might look like embracing your imperfections instead of rejecting them. Self-care might look like choosing to sit and meditate for 5 minutes instead of hitting the snooze button for a third time. Self-care might look like limiting your time mindlessly scrolling through social media. Self-care might look like eating ice cream and not feeling guilty about it. Self-care might look like all or none of these things. What matters most is knowing what is right for you.

Our self-care practice is as unique as we are as an individual. There is no cookie cutter approach or how-to video that will teach you the perfect fail-proof routine. Only you know what is best for you.

We can start by asking ourselves these questions:

- What is important to me?

- What are my core desired feelings?

- What can I do to feel the way I want to feel?

- What would my life look like if I embodied my best self?

By becoming more conscious and intentional about creating healthy rituals we can craft a self-care practice that is in alignment with who we are. I say rituals for a reason because rituals happen with mindful awareness and are done with a purpose outside of the action itself. A habit is merely an action we do with or without being fully conscious of actually doing it. A habit is singularly focused and something we tend to do automatically, on auto-pilot. A ritual, however, helps us to connect to the sacredness of every moment; the miracle of simply existing.

We can begin to implement these rituals slowly and in a way that feels good. To build consistency, we can set daily check in reminders to evaluate how we are feeling and what we may need to adjust to in order to improve our wellbeing. This can be an alarm you set on your phone once a day, twice a day, or every hour until it becomes natural. Remember that it’s okay to start small and to ask for help when starting something new. Maybe invite a friend to join you and hold each other accountable.

Learn to commit to these daily check ins so that you can become aware of cyclical patterns. Do you notice that you tend to feel extra tired around a certain time of the day? Do you notice that your mood changes in different environments/around different people? Do you notice that your self talk is overly critical when completing specific tasks? By knowing yourself intimately and understanding yourself on a deeper level you can begin to make tiny adjustments to improve the quality of your life. You can take control of your health and how you feel. You can show up as your best self every single day..

A few reminders...

Self care is NOT:




A trend

The same for everyone

A sign of weakness

Something to feel guilty about

Self-care IS:

An act of self-love



Soul nourishing



A necessity

Don’t forget how tremendously important you are to this world. You deserve to feel your best and to live a life that is fulfilling and meaningful. There is nothing to fix or change about who you are. You are worthy and more than enough. Take care of yourself like you mean it.

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