Self Care September
I used to believe that self care was just a phrase. Like one of those pictures of the sunrise with a motivational quote on Instagram. It seemed frivolous. Lounging about, relaxing and paying for lovely but very expensive things like massages, getaways and pedicures. Sure, going to the spa is awesome, it’s really relaxing and I love it, but is that it? Is that self care?
What is even the point of self care? Isn’t that just self indulgence? Being stressed and worn out is just part of being a grown up, right? I never used to believe that I would actively practice self care, and find it essential to my health and well being.
Spoiler alert; now I can’t imagine living without self care.
I suppose the thing is, self care looks different for different people. And the levels of self care also differ. I can’t remember the first time I sat down and thought, “okay, let’s introduce some self care into my life”. It wasn’t as obvious as that. What I do remember is feeling really burnt out and really shit and really unhealthy. Not just my body - feeling literally exhausted all the time - but also my mind - anxious and fretting constantly - and also deep within my little precious soul. My soul was not too happy, and I needed something in my life to stop or change because carrying on as things were was not an option.
My first step to self care was working on becoming more present. I’d heard of a thing called mindfulness and it sounded pretty good, I wanted that. I had no idea how to get there so I tried a thing. I thought to myself, when do I feel most relaxed? Bath time!
So, I began making myself take weekly hour (or longer) bubble baths. I would lie in the tub and just be there - here, in this moment - with myself for one hour a week. The ritual of pouring in the bubble bath, slowly stepping into the hot water, sinking beneath was comforting and meditative. Sometimes I read, sometimes I listened to music but most of the time, I just lay there in the water and zoned out. And I started to get more present with myself and I started to feel better. Those hourly baths were awesome and although I no longer commit to them, if I’m stressed and don’t know where to turn, I turn to the tub. Nothing can’t be made a little better and a little calmer than a long old soak in a bubble bath.
Art journaling was my next big step in practising self care. Getting my thoughts out onto paper and working through them helped me to become more attuned to myself. I started to learn why certain situations caused me distress, how I could work through problems and become more proactive than reactive in my daily life. I looked inward, and said hello to my soul on the page, and my soul said hi there, let’s talk.
After a while, I realised that self care wasn’t just a phrase, and that it was deeply important to me - not just important, but really needed! I’ve found that by being more present and more in tune with me, and by taking care of me, that I am a better person. I am happier, calmer, I have more energy, I am more grounded and I can offer more to the world.
I was pleasantly pleased to see that there is a new little hashtag floating around on my beloved Instagram - #SelfCareSeptember. I’ll be taking part, highlighting some of my self care practices along the way, in the hope that I can inspire others to try something that makes them feel calm, loved and happier. For today, my self care was taking a long walk in the woods with my boyfriend, in the rain. Being in the woods does absolute wonders for me and I try to get out there at least a couple of times a month. Even if it’s cold and raining, those walks in the woods leave me warm and fuzzy inside.
So in summary, what I have learned since dropping my belief that self care was frivolous and not really a thing, is that self care isn’t self indulgence. Those two things are very different. I’ve learnt that it’s okay to love yourself, and care for yourself. In fact, if you don’t do either of those things, for me (although I suspect for everyone) then I’m not really in a great position to be loving and caring to others.
Nowadays I think of self care as self love. I love myself and I deserve to be a happy and healthy person because I am worth that. Everyone is. For me, changing that mindset of what self care is helped to open up a very healing and nurturing path, which I am still walking and learning on; one self love step at a time.