I’ve never been the kind of person to enjoy buzzwords or popularity contests. I remember vehemently disliking N*SYNC in the second grade just because everyone else loved them. I’m still a sucker for an underdog. So even though I write a lot about self-love, I don’t like calling it self-love. Even though I’m a huge proponent of self-care, I think the phrase is at risk of becoming a cheesy stereotype. Even I roll my eyes sometimes when I hear people talk about bubble baths and spa days… simply because self-care is becoming an activity that people want to put a label on and permanently categorize. I’ve seen too many posts and too many people decide that self-care MUST be done in a particular way … for one particular purpose…
All I know is that my main self-care message is that we need to make it a priority in our lives - however the activities manifest for us.
Because for me, that’s the thing about life: it’s ever-changing.
How you take care of yourself and love yourself at 16 is not the same way you’ll need to care for and love yourself at 36.
For that matter, how you care for and love yourself during the first 6 months of being 36 and the last 6 months of being 36 might be completely different as well. Life is always demanding a new version of who we are, a wiser version, a version capable of new things.
Another thing that doesn't change too much in life is that other people and outward experiences aren't always going to be loving or kind to us. So what do we do? Wait for the next nice person to pop into our lives and realize that we need a break? No way! Refuse to wait for a savior. Become your own savior!
Your new experiences will shift your beliefs and perspectives over time, and when that happens, how you love yourself through it all will be the true test of your ability to practice self-care - not how many bubble baths you took (although I do love a good bath).
So in order to avoid settling into the typical self-care message trap, I want to offer you 5 key components to a self-care lifestyle that are less “glitz and glam” and more tailored to honoring your true self.
1. Be aware of the way you talk to yourself.
Put away the harsh judgments and overly rushed expectations because our brains don’t actually know the difference between something that’s actually happening and what we’re thinking. So what we say to ourselves, yes, even if we’re not actually verbalizing it, has a super strong impact on how we see ourselves, and what we believe is possible for our lives. When we catch our inner commentary growing louder, we can ask ourselves if this is how we’d want a loved one to speak to us. We can ask ourselves if that inner commentary is actually true. We can ask ourselves if that inner commentary is actually fair. And armed with that new understanding, we can create new affirmations for ourselves. We can’t control how other people speak to us or judge us, but we can take charge of our relationship with ourselves. And since we spend every single day of our lives in our own head, I’d say this is an important relationship to develop.
2. When something difficult happens in your life allow yourself to feel your complete range of emotions.
Transitions can take time, and not everyone’s trajectory to happiness or contentment will look the same. You might need more time processing sadness than your best friend. And once you feel them, know that you don’t have to hold onto them. These feelings do not have to define you. You can choose to care for and love yourself in these moments instead of continuously reliving the difficult experience. Continue moving forward with new wisdom out of respect for yourself and who you are becoming.
3. Don’t be afraid to do nice things for yourself when it’s appropriate for you.
Self-care isn’t necessarily about splurging on luxurious items and experiences. Doing “nice” things for yourself is subjective. What’s nice for one person might not be nice for another. So instead of thinking about what would be the most luxurious or the most Instagram-worthy, simply ask yourself what you really need. Consider what will actually help you feel like the best version of yourself in that moment.
4. Sometimes you will have to displease or upset other people in order to take care of yourself.
Standing up for yourself is completely underrated these days. People seem to be caught up in getting ahead at any cost. And most of the time the cost is way more than most can afford to pay. So instead of driving yourself crazy to please other people, be willing to accept that if you’re truly loving and caring for yourself, you’ll probably have to encounter some disagreements along the way. Not everyone will understand your needs, your boundaries, and your priorities. Nor should they. Just remember that their approval shouldn’t deter you from your personal needs. And when they get upset, because some people definitely will, don’t take it personally. People will always show you who they are… and when they do, don’t beat yourself up over it. No-one else will look out for you like you will.
5. Believe that you are capable of doing amazing things.
When was the last time you were your own biggest fan? When was the last time you had so much faith in what you were doing that nothing could bring you down? If you ever want to give yourself a huge jolt of energy, just remind yourself that you believe in you! You accept you! Remind yourself of all of the amazing things you’ve experienced in the past. Remind yourself of all the kindness you’ve expressed. Trust that if you could do it then, you’ll definitely be able to do it now.
6. Do everything with a sense of wonder.
You don’t know everything. I know we like to pride ourselves on how much we’ve accomplished, but there is so much about this universe that we can’t begin to understand. Allow yourself to be surprised. Allow yourself to experience awe. Allow yourself to appreciate things you once thought were mundane. Give yourself the gift of fun and exaltation everyday. You don’t have to go out and buy it. You can find it in the tiny things if you begin to look at life with a sense of wonder. All it takes is a little shift in perspective. A little willingness to believe that the things around you are more than just average.
If you want to find some specific, concrete, self-care ideas that you can do, you can check out some of my favorites in this post. But, if you just want to add a little bit more consciousness to your life so that you can treat yourself like a best friend instead of like a robot, I hope you try to get in touch with your authentic self, and begin to treat her well!
Thinking about taking your self-care practices to the next level? Try out self-care journaling. Get over a year’s worth of inspiring journaling prompts and planning tools to help you accomplish your goals, dream bigger than you ever imagined, let go of tension and stress, practice mindfulness, find your thankful heart, and practice daily self-care.