Wait… That’s Self-care?
If you follow the Pinterest or Instagram portrait of self-care, you can get a very rosy picture of someone getting a massage, taking a fancy vacation, or doing a juice fast with a big smile on their face. There are many myths around self-care, even with growing interest and awareness of self-care to promote mental and physical well-being.
It’s time for us to repaint this picture and reclaim self-care as not exclusive or rare or expensive but an integral part of our daily routine.
Let’s start by debunking a few myths around self-care. There are more than three, but in the interest of our own self-care, we’re not going to cover them all (see Self-Care Idea #2).
Fact # 1: Self-care is NOT selfish.
There is a common analogy that mental health professionals make about self-care. On an airplane, flight attendants say put on your oxygen mask before helping your neighbor. This isn’t a selfish act; it’s designed to ensure everyone gets what they need. This principle is true for self-care. When we (especially those in caretaker roles like parents, nurses, teachers, bosses, etc.) do the regular maintenance to take care of ourselves, we can help those around us much more effectively and longer than if we are too tired, drained or sick.
Fact # 2: Self-care is NOT too _________ (fill in the blank)
The spa day image of self-care suggests that it takes lots of time and money to make it happen. But the actions that truly help us manage our mental health, regulate our emotions, and recharge are available to us all the time and most at no cost. The key to self-care is to find your personal recipe for success.
Fact # 3: Self-care is NOT doing anything that soothes you.
Self-care is many of the things that soothe the soul – think warm baths, chocolate, comfort food, TV reruns and long naps. The key is finding the balance between what “feels good” now and what supports your long-term mental and physical health. So, spending 10 minutes between meetings watching cat videos on YouTube (here’s a classic) may be self-care today. Skipping work or class every day to watch hours of cat videos won’t make you feel better.
So that’s Self-care?
With all that in mind, we give you a not-even-close-to-comprehensive list of self-care, including the obvious and the more obtuse.
- Spa da…. Hahaha, just kidding.
- Say no to things you don’t have time for, don’t help you meet your goals, or don’t energize you.
- Wash your face with cold water.
- Make a list of things you are grateful for, do this every day if you can.
- Drink water.
- Take a shower.
- Watch ducks eating peas.
- Make time every day to go outside.
- Take a class in woodworking or anything else you’d like to try.
- Buy yourself flowers.
- Meet up with your buddies for a ballgame.
- Take your entire lunch break with no work or chores.
- Go to bed earlier.
- Pick one space in your home or office to declutter.
- Make a list of to-dos to get them out of your brain.
- Go fishing. It’s like meditation, only exciting if something bites.
- Redefine your definition of “productive.”
- Print and answer these ten questions for self-care.
- Wear your comfiest clothing.
- Play a stress-free board game.
- Visit someplace new.
- Choose an affirmation to repeat throughout the day.
- Fix something in the house or yard.
- Create a morning routine.
- Write a love letter to yourself and mail it.
- Go on a walk.
- Put your phone away an hour before bed.
- Make a budget to manage your money.
- Do any physical activity that you loved as a kid.
- Lay down with your eyes closed for 15 minutes.
- Listen to a mental health podcast.
- Write in a journal.
- Open your windows.
- Color an adult coloring sheet.
- Write someone a thank you letter.
- Brain dump “feel good” words that make you smile or dream.
- Get a haircut or spend the time to try something new with your beard.
- Hide your social media apps in a folder, so it’s harder to get to them. (Or just hide your whole phone in a drawer for day!)
- Every time you see your reflection, give yourself a compliment or air high-five.