The term self-care didn’t occur to me until I entered my 20’s. I was under the impression that self-care was long baths with a glass of wine or eating dinner at a nice restaurant alone because I thought I deserved it. I thought it meant long walks alone or watching a movie I like because I felt like it and didn’t have to argue about my movie choice. Self-care was pedicures and manicures and shopping trips on me and only me because… well… I deserved it.
So, I did those things.
I took the baths, went to the restaurants alone, took those walks, watched the movies and did the mani-pedis. All alone. And despite that, somehow, I still felt a void within me. More importantly, all of the pamperings didn’t make me love myself anymore. I was miserable in my own skin and most of the time, I wanted out. That’s such a terrible place to be.
This is what I’ve learned about what self-care actually is.
Self-care is Self-acceptance
I think out of all of the self-care tips, this one is the hardest and the most confusing to implement. What does acceptance mean? What does it look like anyway? Do I just love on whoever is standing in the mirror? I’m afraid it’s not quite that simple. Self-acceptance is about loving the person you are despite what you may see as flaws, but working towards growth. Acceptance is embracing who you are at the moment, realizing that you are a growing, living thing that makes mistakes. That doesn’t mean you accept your bad habits as “who you are” and make excuses not to change. It’s about embracing the journey you’re on to healing and wholeness.
Acceptance says: I am beautiful despite what I went through and finding the courage to move forward each day.
Self-care is Self-love
Self-love seems obvious but millions of women struggle with relationships and their image which makes them believe they are not worthy of love. However, self-love is simply about being kind and patient with yourself. It’s about showing yourself grace when you mess up and continually encouraging yourself to keep moving forward.
Love says: I am so amazing in the way I’ve fought all these years! I make mistakes sometimes, but I am growing, learning, and pushing and I love that about me!
Self-care is remembering your own needs
As a mother, any possible need I could have instantly went out of the window. I was certain I didn’t matter in the grand scheme of anything- as long as my kids were good. I slowly found that the more I didn’t care for me, the harder it was to be there for my kids. It’s pivotal that you’re making time for your needs. Remember- the ones who need you are counting on you to take care of you so that you can be there for them.
Remembering your need says: I am feeling tired/overwhelmed/worn out and I need to slow down and rest. It’s ok for me to be tired because I’m human and I need to recharge before I can help anyone else. I need to help me right now.
Self-care is pursuing your dreams
It’s easy to get lost in the dreams and goals of others when yours are packed away in a box with other hopeful moments you’ve had in your life. However, dreams are what keep us moving and motivated. Your dreams matter like everyone else’s and regardless how insane they are, it’s important to chase what sparks life in you!
Pursuing your dreams says: I know what I want out of my life and I will spend every moment I can moving towards those goals.
Self-care is remembering your worth
As cruel as it can be, we tend to measure our worth through outside measures like people, jobs, our children, what we own, etc. When in reality, God intended for worth to be found in Him. The God of the universe, who created every moving thing here and beyond, made the conscious decision to create you. He orchestrated your breath, your experiences, and your healing. Your value was never in others… what they did to you… what they took from you… it was always in our infinite God. And He thinks you’re perfect.
Remembering your worth says: I am fearfully and wonderfully made and my value doesn’t lie in anything that I can own or see, but in the greatness of God. I am called and I am highly favored in the eyes of God and I am worthy because He says I am and that’s all that matters.
Self-care is healing yourself
Don’t kill me for saying this, but your healing won’t come from people. Accountability and therapy are very important parts of healing, but it takes the conscious decision within you to heal and move forward. You must make the decision to process the pain and let it go. It’s hard work and sometimes requires walking through your trauma all over again- but the day you decide you are done being a victim and want to be a victor, God will be with you at that moment to take the hurts from you and give you His peace that surpasses ALL understanding.
Healing yourself says: I’ve been hurt deeply and for so long, but I deserve and need peace within me. I will not live in the prison of pain I’ve lived in- I’m going to process and let go of the hurt, so I can live the joyous life God intended.
Self-care is self-forgiveness
Have you ever looked back to a situation you were a part of and was like “dang was I really that stupid?” The answer is yes and that’s ok. We are all human and all have incredibly fallible moments. However, we learn from those moments and grow to be better people. We can forgive ourselves for our mistakes because we were created with flaws. My counselor once told me “so what Jesus did on the cross was for everyone else EXCEPT you?” I was annoyed but he was right. Part of forgiving myself meant accepting the forgiveness Christ so freely gave.
Self-Forgiveness says: I deserve forgiveness because Christ died to forgive me. I am becoming a better me each day.
Self-care is investing in yourself
Ok, so the first thing I want to get right about this is I don’t mean extensive shopping trips. Shopping for excess things isn’t self-care. It compounds your mental health issues because not having money tends to lead to depression. There’s also the opposite side. If you’re like me, you RARELY spend money on yourself. I just don’t see the value in that. But I’m learning that I’m worth it. What I am saying is investing in your growth. Take some classes. Go on a trip you’ve always been dreaming of taking. Invest a little more in your blog or your business. Buy the laptop that’s going to make working easier.
Investing in yourself says: I am valuable and I am worth investing in. I know any money that goes into me will help me progress further into accomplishing my goals and that is worth every penny!
Self-care is resting
I used to feel so guilty when I would sleep in till 9 am on a Saturday and have my mother watch the kids! But I knew that if I didn’t get that rest, I wouldn’t be at my best for my babies. So yes. Self-care is prioritizing sleep and making sure you are well rested because you need your strength and energy to continue the fight!
Resting says: I need to recharge and I’m allowed to lay here until I feel the energy I need to keep going.
Self-care is seeing a doctor
So let me tell y’all how much I HATE the doctor! They never have anything good to say so I stopped going! Until I developed a stomach ulcer. Had I been going to the doctor for my stomach issues, I wouldn’t have suffered as long as I did. Not seeing the doctor meant I missed days at work with my students and many days with my babies. Seeing a doctor when there’s urgency is showing care and love for yourself and for the ones who are depending on you.
Seeing a doctor says: My physical health matters and it is important that I am taking care of this body God gave me.
Self-care is taking care of your body (not just the outside)
I know as someone who struggles with depression, I very easily let my body go. Regular hygiene is very difficult and can incite a riot in my brain. I’m starting to realize that its such a struggle because its so important. I must take basic care of this body because I’m living in it and my soul doesn’t want to be in a funky house all day! Read my post about my struggles with a shower here.
Taking care of your body says: I will shower and care for my body because I am worth a clean, refreshed body which promotes a refreshed mind.
Self-care is taking counseling
I’m the most controlling person I know. It’s very difficult for me to admit when I’m struggling with something because I want people to think I have it all together. But Jesus knows I don’t. I’m a wreck like everyone else and sometimes I need to come to terms with that so that I can find healing. The greatest thing I ever did for myself was to get counseling. Once I put my guard down a bit, my counselor was able to get into my mind and heart and heal issues that I thought I was going to live with forever. I found a better version of myself after those counseling sessions.
Counseling says: I am hurting and broken in certain places of my life and I am anxious to see a healed, whole version of me on Earth, filled with wisdom and understanding.
Self-care is processing emotions
This goes along with counseling. Counseling is pointless if you’re not willing to do the work in processing those feelings. It’s important that you make the decision that you want to heal, allowing the counselor to walk you through how to process your feelings. The hard work is hard… but worth it.
Processing emotions says: This hurts and I don’t like it, but I’m hopeful that in processing my emotions, I can let it all go and be free of the toxic feelings. It won’t be easy, but my joy and my peace are worth the work.
Self-care is patience with your healing.
I’m so sorry to tell you that this isn’t an overnight process. That pains me because I’ve spent 3 long years working on processing my issues and I’ve only seen so much healing. What’s important though is that I AM HEALING. It’s slow… and that’s ok. When I get angry- have panic attacks in public- cry over nothing- or sink into depression- I remember that healing is a journey, not a destination. The time may be long, but there will be a day when I see a healed version of myself on this side of Heaven and that is worth waiting for. Read about my healing journey here.
Patience with healing says: Today, I may not be where I want to be, but I’m further than where I was yesterday and if I keep going, I will keep making progress in my healing for tomorrow.
Self-care is healthy eating and drinking water
This is also about taking care of the inside of you. It is so easy to default to whatever we can find to eat rather than being picky and specific. I challenge you to be picky! Buy your food from a fresh market rather than something that is being mass produced. Healthy eating and drinking water will lead to you feeling better, better mental health, and a longer life for more beautiful memories.
Healthy eating and drinking says: My body and my life matters. I will make the sacrifice to take care of me for my physical and mental health.
Self-care is practicing your craft
It really doesn’t matter who you are- this applies to you. Craft is anything that you find joy in… that releases your creative energy. That is anything from painting to solving difficult calculus problems. Whatever fills you deeply with joy when you produce it, that’s your passion. You are at your brightest when you are in your element. It’s where you shine above all else. If you’re not in that space currently, work towards a space that allows you to passionately practice your craft. You will find a life that is fulfilled and purposeful.
Practicing your craft says: my passion is my art and God gave me this art to be demonstrated, not hidden. I am closer to God, my creator when I am creating in the way He intended. My life is filled with purpose and joy when I follow and practice my passion.
Self-care is boundaries
As an empath, it is entirely difficult for me to take myself away from people. I think everyone needs to be within my energy, regardless how damaging that is to me. Wow… I really didn’t love myself. I’m always willing to sacrifice my comfort and mental health for others. That had to come to a complete stop when I started feeling the damage throughout my life and everything I touched. I had to start creating boundaries. Boundaries can be reduced to something this simple- gravitate towards what feels good and move away from what does not. Sometimes that means cutting off toxic people or limiting how often you’re around others. It could mean setting aside time to be alone with your own energy, meditating, and calming yourself. But most importantly, whatever boundary you set in place YOU HAVE TO RESPECT IT BEFORE ANYONE ELSE CAN. If you’re lax about your boundaries, then others will be too. Please be mindful of this!
Boundaries says: I will honor my peace of mind by allowing people to only go so far. I will also respect and enforce my boundaries for the sake of my health and my growth.
Self-care is knowing when you’ve had enough.
This goes along with boundaries. If you’ve reached your boiling point with a relationship, then cut yourself out of the picture. If you are always stressed out and can’t seem to find joy at your job, then it may be time to move into something else. As people who fight with mental health, it can be scary dropping something familiar for something new… or in some cases… nothing at all. However, I believe God speaks in those moments. You are uncomfortable or in pain about this situation for a reason. Listen to God’s still small voice within you and act accordingly. But please know when you’ve had enough and move on. There’s no shame in that.
Knowing when you’ve had enough says: I’ve tried my best at this and it is not working. I acknowledge that and it is time to try something new.
This list is not exhaustive and will be updated regularly. There is just so much more to selfcare than the commercial version. Although shopping and bath bombs are nice, selfcare is about caring for your soul and the house it lives in.
Got any self-care tips? Post them in the comments section and I can add it to this list!