“Self-care” is such a buzzword lately — let’s break down what it actually means, and what self-care might look like for you.
First things first: it isn't always “TREAT YO'SELF.”
This is often the image we get when we think of self-care: relaxing, spa days, mani/pedis, glasses of wine in the bathtub. Yes, these can be self-care. But sometimes self-care is HARD--like setting a clear boundary with your partner or buckling down on your to-do list. Self-care is about supporting your health and well-being, which means sometimes it won’t be relaxing (like paying your bills), while other times it totally will be!
Second things second: let’s talk about GUILT.
Here’s the thing: SELF-CARE IS NOT SELFISH. You don’t have to earn it or prove that you need it. You deserve to be cared for, especially by yourself. You are a wonderful human being, and taking care of yourself actually helps you be *more wonderful* to the other people you care for. Win-win!
Now that we’ve got those two misconceptions out of the way...we can talk about the different facets of self-care. I break it down into three main areas:
ONE: PHYSICAL HEALTH
This is about how you move and feed your body, and also your relationship to your body. Bring an attitude of respect, compassion and appreciation for your body, no matter what shape and size it takes.
Caring for your physical health should always include basics like sleep (I put this at number one for everyone), drink water, shower, brush your teeth, and eat healthy (whatever that means for you, knowing that eating healthy is not just about *what* you eat, but also about your *relationship* to food).
It should also include things like joyful movement (yoga, barre, dance or other exercise), and seeing your doctor and dentist regularly (I know...but it’s important!).
Attending to your physical health might also include extras like a manicure, long baths or a massage. TREAT YO’SELF.
TWO: EMOTIONAL HEALTH
I work as a therapist, so this section is MY JAM. Your emotional health is just as important as your physical health. In fact, your emotional health *directly impacts* your physical health.
Emotional self-care can include daily emotional check ins, journaling, meditation and going to therapy.
Practice getting in touch with your emotional experience. Feel your feelings, rather than avoiding them or pushing them away. Even when you avoid them, they find a way to get felt later on, so you might as well do it now!
Notice where you feel your emotions in your body; observe the sensations that are associated with each feeling state (for example: stress, for me, feels like nausea, loss of appetite, tightness in my chest, and tension in my shoulders). Name the emotion you feel: sadness, anxiety, happiness, contentment, love, grief, etc. Just naming an emotion can sometimes provide relief. Then, observe the *thoughts* that are happening alongside that emotion. For example, my stress often comes with thoughts like “I’m never going to get this blog post done; When will I have time to do my laundry this week?” Observe these thoughts, and practice mindfully thanking them for their service, and ground mindfully back into the present moment if the thoughts are not helpful.
Express your emotions, to yourself and to someone else--a friend, family member, therapist, coworker, whoever. Support is crucial!
Attend to your emotions often, and do your self-care plan EVEN WHEN YOU FEEL FINE.
THREE: SOCIAL/SPIRITUAL HEALTH
Connection is healing, y’all. Caring for yourself socially and spiritually can include things like time with friends, playing with your pet, prayer, and being in nature. Even if you’re an introvert, you still need connection.
Find what makes you feel connected to people and the world/higher power/the universe (whatever spirituality is for you) and put those things on your self-care list. Healing doesn’t happen in isolation, and doesn’t work as well when we are disconnected from our place within the whole.
The Summer Soulfood Challenge is the perfect time to create a self-care plan and connect with other people. Take some time to reflect on what you already know works for you in each of these three areas. Come up with a long list of self-care actions, both the “treat yo’self” kind and the more difficult kind. Write these things down in your journal! This list can become your menu when you make time for yourself (every day), both when times are good and when times are rough. You don’t need to do all the things all the time, but aim for at least a few from each category consistently.
I wish you all the best!
— Toni —
I came to yoga as part of my own healing journey.
After completing the Craft, I felt inspired to expand my knowledge and share yoga through teaching and professional practice. I revel in the timeless truths of ancient yoga philosophy—it just baffles me how scripts written millennia ago still stand true today!
My classes are fluid, mindful, introspective and trauma-informed, with the aim of supporting you in embodying your authentic self. My favorite thing about teaching yoga is holding an accepting, nourishing space in which you can get curious about and explore what makes you YOU. I see yoga as a gateway to experiencing our innate wholeness, and I hope to empower you to return to yourself through this practice.
Book a class with Toni! click here!