What is Self-Care?
It seems pretty self-explanatory, right? Self-care means taking care of yourself. People practice self-care in different ways, and there is no right or wrong way to do it.
Ultimately, self-care is one of the ways we express self-love. There are several different components of self-care and this blog will focus on the importance of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual self-care.
Taking care of yourself physically is the most obvious aspect of self-care. The idea behind it is to maintain or enhance your body.
Some ways that people express physical self-care include going to the gym and working out to achieve or maintain a certain physique in an effort to be pleased with your body, wearing makeup to present an enhanced version of yourself to the world, or taking a nice candle-lit bath with some essential oils and soft music in the background to relax your muscles after a long day. The goal is to be pleased with what you see and what you physically feel.
Another way to practice physical self-care is to eat healthy foods like fruits, vegetables, herbs and roots so that your body gets the proper nutrients to function optimally. We only get this one vessel and we have to live our whole lives in it. Keeping it up shows that you care about yourself and how you're perceived by others on the surface.
I like to think of the body as the outside of a house. You can't tell what's in it by looking at it, but it either looks inviting due to good maintenance, or it looks like something you don't want to go near. Although it is shallow in some ways, we are the same way.
It's true that you can't judge a book by its cover, but you can judge how well the owner takes care of it by its condition. It takes effort. Keeping your body in good condition means that you care about yourself and it lets others know that you are a good steward/stewardess over at least that.
Mental self-care is extremely important, especially with the amount of mental illness plaguing our society.
Our thoughts are the origin of everything do. Every word said, every action taken, every creation that exists began as a thought. The mind is where reality begins. So it is imperative that we cultivate our minds to work for us, not against us.
The thoughts we have, the perceptions we have, the ideas and beliefs we hold all create the basis of our reality. For this reason, we are responsible for cultivating the mental space we wish to live in.
One way to practice mental self-care is to read material that uplifts and empowers you. When you read, it's your own voice that you hear. So when you read something positive that is meant to build you up, it's like you're empowering yourself. Your mind is absorbing that information and your self responds to it.
If you're not a big reader, watching and listening to messages with positive intentions has the same effect. There are a lot of inspirational pages on YouTube dedicated to positive affirmations and personal growth.
It is important to note that our minds are constantly absorbing information, both deliberately and subconsciously. Be aware of what you consume and the effect it may have on you. You owe it to yourself to feed your mind with material that will help you create the life you want. Remember, everything starts in the mind. So it's up to you to care for yours and make it work for you.
For me, emotional self-care has been the greatest challenge. I have always had intense emotions (which I attribute to my Scorpio Moon) but I haven't always known how to process or express them.
The root of emotional self-care is emotional self-control. Many of us lack the emotional self-control that would benefit us greatly, which isn't surprising considering how powerful the heart is.
It is common for people to react based on their feelings in the moment, but as we know from examples in our own lives, this isn't always the best way to handle a situation.
During moments of high emotion, I used to lash out on whoever was around to catch the wrath. The result often was that I said or did things that I later regretted and had to apologize for because I let the intensity of the moment dictate my response.
Having emotional control doesn't mean lacking emotion altogether, it means being able to harness those emotions without allowing them to take over. Something that has worked for me in maintaining emotional control and ultimately practicing emotional self-care is to write out my emotions. Instead of lashing out and projecting my emotions onto whoever is around, I sit with those emotions. I analyze them. Where did they come from? Why are they here? What part did I play in allowing myself to feel this way?
A lot of times we find that emotional conflict comes from a miscommunication, a misinterpretation, or an expectation that we placed on someone who fell short. It's okay to feel negative emotions sometimes, it's inevitable. However, the way we choose to process and express those emotions can either put us at an advantage or make our lives more difficult.
Nobody cares about your feelings. As harsh as that sounds, it is the truth. You are responsible for your own emotional well-being, so you have the power to cultivate your own emotional space and operate from there. How you feel can be triggered by outside factors, but what you do with those feelings is totally up to you. It's best if you use them in ways that benefit you.
Spiritual self-care is my most recent discovery. Probably because my spiritual awareness is fairly new.
To me, spiritual self-care is about feeding your soul.
In today's world, there are so many distractions designed to take our energy and place it outside of ourselves. Most people are worried about basic survival - having enough money, feeding themselves and their families, keeping a roof over their head, paying bills, etc. That doesn't allow much time to even acknowledge the spirit, much less to feed and cultivate it so it blossoms.
Most people are so consumed with their place in the material world that they may not even be aware of a non-physical existence.
Some ways to get in touch with your spirit if you aren't already is to ask yourself the following questions: What would make you happy and fulfilled? Who do you want to be? What do you want your contribution to the world to be?
It's deeper than money, status and material possessions. Answer these questions as if you already have everything you've ever needed and wanted. If you had it all, what would you do with it? That is where you find your purpose, soul mission, or spiritual intention.
Taking care of yourself spiritually means doing things that are in alignment with who you want to be. It means taking control over your destiny because you realize that you are the driving force behind your life, no one else.
Spiritual self-care encompasses all the other forms of self-care mentioned because your body, mind, and emotions are all extensions and expressions of spirit. Your spirit is the essence of what makes you, you.
Self-care is the act of cultivating the self that you want to be. Self-awareness is the first step - acknowledging who you are, the things you like about yourself, and the things you'd like to change.
Self-acceptance is next - to not place judgement on yourself, despite being unsatisfied with certain parts of yourself. You are who you are, and you have the ability to change that at any moment if you choose to, so don't fret.
After you are self-aware and have come to a place of acceptance, then self-love and self-care come in. As I stated before, self-care is self-love in action. You owe it to yourself to be the best version of yourself that you can conjure up. You cannot pour from an empty cup.
In other words, if you don't take care of yourself, whatever energy you attempt to give to anything else will come from a depleted place. So make sure to fill your own cup first.