“Self-care”. It’s quite the buzzword these days. Books are written about it, therapists recommend it, and influencers post about it. When was the last time you scrolled through Instagram without seeing a post about a glass of wine and a face mask, all in the name of self-care? But with all this talk about it, what does it mean? Why does it matter? And is there more to it than just IG content?
According to Oxford Languages, self-care has two main definitions. The first is “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health”. The second is “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s well-being and happiness, particularly during periods of stress.”
The first definition focuses on one’s physical health, whereas the second focuses on one’s emotional and mental health and well-being. Regardless of who you are or where you are in life, you deserve physical, emotional, and mental health and well-being. So, a regular self-care routine or making time for it could be highly beneficial. But why?
There are many benefits of self-care, but we’re going to focus on four.
- It reminds you of your worthiness
- It gives you time to stop
- Requires you to look inward
- Encourages self-connection
-Reminds you of your worthiness
Do you ever feel guilty thinking about yourself? Ever believe others are worthy of time off, vacations, personal trainers, or lash extensions but not you? Maybe you’ve thought that one day you’ll reward yourself with one of those things when you’ve earned it after ________? (Promotion? Relationship? Weight loss?)
Why are others worthy of self-care but you aren’t? THERE IS NO REASON BECAUSE IT’S A LIE! YOU are just as deserving as anyone else! But outside influences have trained you to believe that it’s selfish and unbecoming to make yourself a priority in your own life. Instead, you’re expected to give everyone else all your time, energy, talents, resources, and money! It could be your partner, kids, boss, employees, clients, neighbours, church members, family, or even total strangers. They could be people you genuinely love and want to support, which is beautiful unless it affects your openness to caring for yourself, too.
Love is not a limited commodity. Loving yourself does not limit the amount of love you can give others. But, when you focus only on caring for others, you limit the amount of time, resources, energy, or even desire to care for yourself. Remembering that you can’t draw water from an empty well illustrates that if you are exhausted or burnt out from a lack of self-care, you will be too exhausted or burnt out to show up for others in the way you want.
But even if you don’t want to maintain self-care to care for others, you still need self-care because you are worthy of it. You deserve to feel peace, joy, happiness, contentment, safety, discovery, and hope. You are worthy of time dedicated JUST for you and money spent JUST on you! All you had to do was be born to be worthy of self-care.
-Gives you time to stop
How often do you get out of the routine? You know— the wake up in the morning, get ready, go to work, pick up takeout, play with the pups/kids, go to bed routine? Even if you love exactly what you do daily, our regular performances don’t usually have built-in time for bonafide self-care practices.
Think about it— have you ever looked up one day and realized it’s been a full year since you had teeth cleaning? It’s not that you’re a careless, dirty person! It’s just that trips to the dentist aren’t a regular part of your routine. This is why you need time for self-care to become more of a priority. When you have time to stop and focus on yourself, you create space to evaluate how you’re genuinely doing and what you need, which is what self-care is all about.
-Requires you to look inward
Along with not taking time for ourselves, many of us pay no mind to ourselves. This means, that we are too busy thinking about everything and everyone else that we stop listening to our own hearts, bodies, and minds to understand or discover what we need to thrive.
When you make self-care a priority, you have to permit yourself to consider your current needs. You may need to do some soul searching or even take time to practice listening to your body and mind to discover what effective self-care looks like for you in that moment.
This can be hard if you are used to bottling or avoiding your feelings, but it’s necessary if you want self-care to have a lasting benefit. Otherwise, it could just be a temporary distraction.
Taking the time to look inward and examine where you are and what you need without shame or expectations can improve your relationship with yourself.
Think about a little puppy who depends on you to care for it. If you ignore the puppy, forget to feed it, and avoid playing and giving it exercise, that puppy isn’t going to trust you or feel close to you. But if you provide it with everything it needs and cultivate a loving relationship, that puppy will grow into your best friend. It’s the same way with forming a connection with yourself.
You give your attention to what you value and deserve to be loved! By taking time to turn off the noise of a busy life and pay attention to yourself, you strengthen your relationship with YOU. This increases self-worth, self-confidence, and self-love, which also helps improve other aspects of your life!
As you can see, self-care has some profound benefits when you choose to really listen to yourself and cater to your specific needs. Sometimes that glass of wine and sheet mask may be just what you need, but other times you may need to dig deeper, connect with your inner self, and find you require heavier-duty self-care practices. Whatever you need to do to protect your well-being and happiness (especially in times of stress!) is valid and authentic, so don’t compare your self-care practices to everyone else’s. Enjoy taking the time for yourself and making self-care a valuable part of your regular routine!