By Samantha Romanowski | @smilingsamantha
I really dislike the term “self-care.” It’s become a buzzword. It’s trendy. The meaning has become diluted.
Green juice. Moon juice. Massage. Facial. Retreat. Crystals. #selfcare #wellness #ugh
What does it mean to be well in 2020? What does it mean to practice “self-care"?
Self-care is really about making conscious choices that nurture your body, mind, and spirit. It’s about loving the way that certain activities make you feel. And if you go deeper, it’s self-love. The catch? It’s a daily practice, not something you do to escape your stress or your life.
Do you drink enough water? Are you getting enough sleep? Is there self-judgment or negative self-talk in your mental space? Do you make time for hobbies and social interaction? The small things you do to take care of your health (physical and mental) are self-care. And more importantly, it’s time to recognize that self-care is a part of your healthcare.
Taking care of your health is a continuous process of proactively considering and tending to your needs. It’s about making the most caring choice you can make for yourself in a situation. It includes making small, sustainable changes in your life that you can commit to keeping up. It’s maintaining your physical and mental health in ways that don’t add stress to your life but are a reflection of what you actually need to be healthy and well.
It’s vital to start considering the WHY behind the choices we make. When you take the time to reflect on why you do certain things (and how you take care of yourself), it can reveal a deeper understanding about your intentions. Do you want to be distracted? Do you need a sense of control or accomplishment? Do you desire to feel more alive or connected?
We make countless decisions during the course of a day and when you uncover why you make certain decisions, you can begin to adjust the things that don’t serve you, that don’t make you feel good, and that don’t contribute positively to your health.
It’s essential to view our self-care practices as part of our healthcare because they give us ownership over our health. When you view the small, daily (self-care) habits you do as part of your overall healthcare, you begin to recognize that you have the opportunity to change how you feel, both physically and mentally.
Let’s be real—I’m not suggesting that you can use positive affirmations to pull you out of a funk. Or that eight hours of sleep is going to magically change your life. But maybe these are small steps that lead to larger gains that cause a real shift in the way you feel.
Reflecting on why you do certain things, then making adjustments along with setting an intention to foster self-compassion, non-judgment, and acceptance through your daily self-care practices will help you feel better. Go deeper and you’ll understand that true care for oneself is an act of self-love.
And self-love is as fundamental to your health as food, water, and shelter. When you practice self-love, you increase your feelings of self-worth and foster growth within yourself and throughout your life.
Author and activist Laurie Penny wrote, "The harder, duller work of self-care is about the everyday, impossible effort of getting up and getting through your life in a world that would prefer you cowed and compliant. A world whose abusive logic wants you to see no structural problems, but only problems with yourself, or with those more marginalized and vulnerable than you are. Real love, the kind that soothes and lasts, is not a feeling, but a verb, an action. It’s about what you do for another person over the course of days and weeks and years, the work put into care and cathexis. That’s the kind of love we’re terribly bad at giving ourselves, especially on the left."
So let me ask you again—what do you do for self-care? Can you begin to shift your thinking around your daily (self-care) habits? Can you think of those things you do to take care of yourself as part of your healthcare? Can you take ownership of your health?
That’s the most radical act of self-love I can think of.