Recently, self-care has been a major topic of conversation when discussing mental health. Acts such as meditation, face-masks, bubble baths, and spa days are popular activities that are considered to be self-care. However, there has recently been some buzz surrounding what we traditionally deem as “self-care.” Society is beginning to challenge the belief that self-care is only about taking time to relax and cater to our bodies. There’s this new notion that self-care is also about fostering healthy relationships, setting boundaries, and pursuing personal growth. This dialogue about self-care has led us to this question: What IS self-care? So let’s break it down.
Different For Everyone
Self-care is meant to make ourselves our number one priority, and that looks different for everyone. For the working mom and wife, that may look like a 20-minute bubble bath away from the kids, husband, and dog. For the stressed out college student, that may look like staying inside on a Friday night and catching up on sleep instead of going out. For the single 20-something-year-old, self-care may look like volunteering at the homeless shelter once a week. Self-care does not look the same across the board and no method of self-care is more important or valid than the other.
Selfishness is traditionally viewed as a negative trait that should be avoided. However, a healthy dose of selfishness every now and then is vital. Self-care is a rare moment of selfishness that we all need and deserve. We give up so much of ourselves as it is for school, family, work, friends, and more. Self-care is what we reserve for our wants, needs, and peace of mind.
Self-Care Is Not
A Coping Mechanism
Self-care is not meant to be confused with coping mechanisms. Coping mechanisms are ways we manage stress. Although self-care is a great way to alleviate stress, it should also be implemented when we’re feeling great! You don’t have to be suffering or going through something negative to insert self-care into your lifestyle.
The way you display self-care does not have to be set in stone. In fact, switching it up every now and then is a good thing! Pick up a new hobby, hike a new trail, take a break from yoga and try kickboxing, make new friends, or travel somewhere you’ve never been. The beautiful thing about self-care is that you can implement it in whatever way you see fit. It’s your world, pearl.
Self-care has a unique way of teaching us more about who we are because it forces us to focus inward and figure out what we actually like. So, in the process of catering to yourself, don’t be surprised if you discover new things about your personality, interests, and even beliefs. Self-care also allows us to be better people. We can only be as good to others as we are to ourselves.
Pay attention to how much happier you are when you embrace self-care and how this change in mood has impacted your relationships, whether romantic or platonic, with others. Ultimately, understanding self-care is about understanding yourself. So yes, self-care can include surface level things such as going to the spa, getting a facial and pedicure. It can also involve actions that serve a deeper purpose, such as cutting off toxic friends or seeing a therapist. Only you can set the limits on what you need. So, whether it is a massage, a nap, a therapy session, or a break-up, as long as it is good for YOU, it is self-care.
Zoe is a graduate student from Houston currently obtaining her Masters of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at The University of Texas at San Antonio. She is very passionate about mental health and wellness and is an advocate for self-care and therapy. Zoe believes that all people should invest in their mental health and that we become our best selves from the inside out. You can see more of her work at thelifetherapist.org