Although it seems obvious, we all need reminding sometimes that self-care is actually an extremely important part of maintaining a healthy psyche. But what is self-care? Admittedly, a smart ass such as myself would reply to that question with the confidence of a thousand horses saying, “It is the act of caring for oneself!” which, although not an incorrect description, doesn’t fully encapsulate all it means.
When one Googles ‘self-care’, millions of hits blast the results pages in an overwhelming attempt to help guide self-care, but in all honesty, looking up this topic gave me anxiety. So I stopped, made myself a cup of tea, and started looking up the definition on medically inclined websites (as I do with most health-related problems).
Self-care is the act of taking care of yourself by doing things that bring you joy and comfort. It can be something as simple as reading your favorite book, taking yourself out to go see a movie, or using a positive coping mechanism to help decrease your stress. Self-care is individual and personal, and that means what works for other people may not work for you. It can be as easy as lighting candles and taking a nice hot bath or as difficult as accepting that you spilling your coffee was just one little bad thing that happened.
The British Colombia Crisis Center has an amazing page describing signs and symptoms of stress as well as excellent coping mechanisms to start your road to recovery, but how can you recover if you don’t have the energy or mental strength to do so? Starting to perform small acts of kindness towards yourself regularly can significantly decrease your stress and give you the energy to start your recovery towards mental wellness.
As I strive to at least accomplish one piece of self-care a day, my therapist challenged me to start with writing one dreadful thing and two good things that have happened during my day. For example, last night I wrote “I still haven’t written that blog, I had drinks with the girls, and I made my bed this morning”. Both reviewing the good parts of my day and writing down something I need to improve on, helped me guide what self-care activities I needed to do. When I look back at the three weeks of positive and negatives in my journal, it has helped me start to appreciate the small positives in my life I usually wouldn’t have even notice.
Sometimes self-care can be a struggle to accomplish, and sometimes it can leave you feeling overwhelmed. When that happens, it’s okay to ask someone for help. Meeting up with a friend, or one of the Listeners at VoT, and having a talk about what seems to stress you out is also a very healthy form of self-care. It’s a matter of knowing what you need for help and who you can go to.
It’s a great time of year to start being a little nicer to yourself. The holidays are coming, and you deserve to feel loved by yourself. So, pour yourself a hot apple cider, curl up with that good book, and thank yourself for all of the hard things you’ve done this week.