By: Jam Bufi
Self-care isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” thing. It could be enjoying wine nights with friends, brewing a cup of coffee and reading a book at the end of a long week, watching comfort movies or binging TV shows, or even finally checking out those items that have been in your online shopping cart for months.
These things allow us to destress and reward ourselves. We’ve worked hard, we deserve it. But self-care doesn’t stop at these. The real work is often hard and something we overlook amidst all the chaos of our daily lives. It’s not something we only do at the end of a stressful week. If there’s one good thing this year has brought me, it’s that it gave me more time to pause, refocus and recalibrate, allowing me to expand my understanding of what self-care really means.
Self-care is allowing yourself to take a break. It’s okay to spend an unproductive weekend once in a while. We often feel like we need to work nonstop, to make good use of our time, and when we don’t, we feel guilty for “wasting” our day. But you do not need to constantly justify your place in the world. You are already enough. Go ahead and take that weekend off to rest and recharge so that you’re ready to take on the upcoming week.
It can also be stepping away from situations that affect your mental health. This year, for instance, crowded our social media feeds with one upsetting news after another, prompting me to take a social media break midyear, which actually improved my mood and reduced my stress levels. Likewise, it’s also acceptable to remove yourself from toxic environments or relationships that don’t allow you to thrive, and to learn to say “no” to people or situations that make you uncomfortable.
Self-improvement can also be self-care, but whether it’s choosing to improve yourself physically, mentally, or intellectually, the first step is always the hardest. So pick a day to start that workout program, online course, or counseling session and set it in stone, then push yourself to stick to it by finding ways to motivate yourself. For me, I stay motivated by visually keeping track of my progress or talking to a friend about it.
Self-care is diving into new and exciting environments. Yes, it can be scary to start over especially when you’ve grown so used to a specific environment, but a friend once told me that it is always worth it to bet on yourself. Just try it out and you will be surprised at how much you are capable of doing.
It all basically boils down to one thing – self-care is choosing yourself. Take the time to reflect on what (or who) makes you happy, what fills you with purpose, or what makes you feel good. Think about what gives you anxiety or what leaves a heavy weight on your chest, and choose to do something about it. Nourish your body and mind, prioritize your mental health, and fill your life with as much love and positivity as you can.
Again, self-care is not a once-in-a-while thing – it’s something you choose to do every day, no matter how hard, to achieve a life that you love. Recently, my motto has been a simple three-word phrase – brick by brick. I think the idea of working on yourself one step at a time and celebrating even the smallest progress is a way of putting love and patience with oneself at the center of your goals, which is the essence of self-care.
So start choosing yourself today, and continue to choose yourself even if the going gets tough. After all, self-care is something only you can do for yourself.
Photo from Pxfuel and Wikipedia Commons.