13 Difficult But Essential Self-Care Practices
For a long time, I thought self-care was overrated. I thought it was about being indulgent, or it was part of the entitled mindset. I thought it meant going for endless spas with no consideration if it was cost-effective, or how it fits into people’s budget or lifestyle. I also thought that self-care was equivalent to selfishness and inconsideration. I felt that it was selfish to put one’s needs ahead of others. After all, aren’t we supposed to be nice and kind human beings?
But through my various experiences in life, I realized that self-care was not superficial like I thought it was. It was more than that. Now I believe that self-care is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves. It is one of the highest forms of self-love where we appreciate ourselves as much as the other. Where we treat ourselves equal to others and not one-up or one-low than others.
SEE ALSO: On The Pursuit Of Happiness
What is self-care?
It is defending ourselves, keeping ourselves a priority, committing to be our ally all through life, instead of continually undermining or treating ourselves as 2nd class citizens. It means treating ourselves with reverence, compassion, love, and kindness. Because only when we can do it ourselves, can we do it to others. The extent we take care of ourselves is the extent that we can take care of others.
How we can practice self-care:
1. Say no- When we are pushed around or asked unreasonable requests whether professionally or personally, standing up for ourselves, being our ally by saying no is a form of self-care. The reason we do not want to do it is not essential. The act of honouring our wishes and feelings and paying heed to them is the act of self-care.
2. Setting limits- I always believed that when someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the left like Jesus, which means to be the bigger person. I still believe in the same. But when someone pushes your boundaries or is taking advantage of your large-heartedness, it essential to set limits in such circumstances to defend yourself. When a grizzly bear attacks you, you wouldn’t want to be lunch, would you? In the same way, setting limits is like a form of self-defence. Sometimes it means ending toxic relationships. It is an act of self-respect when you put a limit on unacceptable behaviours. The first time I set a limit to a friend, our friendship ended, but I gained a huge part of myself in the bargain.
3. Know your boundaries- Knowing what your limit is and how much is acceptable to you is a form of self-care. It helps you be aware of yourself, what you can and cannot do. When I set boundaries with a relative, I was defending myself, taking care of myself, and being my ally. In the beginning, it is tough for people to accept the change in you, but that’s ok because we all deserve to be aware of our boundaries.
4. Take a break- When you are tired and exhausted and have worked your butt off, but the work is still piling on, self-care takes the form of saying that your health and body needs priority and letting that work wait. You can do it after you rest.
5. Time for reflection/introspection- Taking time to reflect on life choices and the current state of affairs is a form of self-care. When we ask ourselves pertinent questions, we make ourselves a priority and take responsibility for our life choices and decision. Here we don’t place the blame for our life situations and play victim, instead we take the onus for our lives. Question for reflection includes why are we always tired and exhausted? What needs a tweak in our life to make the necessary change? Is our life going in the direction we want, and if not, what changes can we make?
6. Self-acceptance- Accepting all our sides, then nerdy, the boring, the non-socially accepting sides is also another form of self-care. When we accept all sides of ourselves, the good, bad and ugly, we honour all parts of ourselves and don’t end up side-lining another. Society teaches us to love only our goods sides and label other parts of ourselves as not useful. Some of the labels we use are lazy, useless, boring, nerdy, clean freak, dumb- the list goes on. When we accept all our supposed flaws and own them without belittling them, it is a form of radical self-care.
7. Self-forgiveness- for the times we have not stood up for ourselves, for the times we have sold ourselves short, allowed ourselves to be taken advantage of, and undermined ourselves is a form of self-care.
8. Being assertive- Asking for what you want without feeling guilty for asking or without second-guessing and doubting if your needs are valid or unreasonable is also a form of self-care
9. Asking for help- When you can’t do something, accepting that you are not Mr/ Miss- know it all relieves the pressure that we put on ourselves. Asking help from others is also a form of self-care.
10. Depending/Counting on others- For companionship, sharing of ideas, for building connection are healthy ways we can co-exist in society and is an essential self -care ritual. Living in isolation and distrust of others leads to the betrayal of self and denies the opportunity to build healthy relationships and to evolve.
11. Being imperfect- Lowering the bar and not expecting perfection in everything we do is also a form of self-care. Sometimes we chase perfection endlessly, and it leads to procrastination and fear of getting out of our comfort zone. Accepting imperfections allows us to give ourselves breathing space.
12. Occasional indulgences- Like a guilt-free treat, or a vacation and spa are also forms of self-care.
13. Doing the things- You love is also a form of self-care as it enriches us and makes us whole. I spend a lot of time reading or writing and enjoy it for the pure bliss of it.
Self-care is akin to self-responsibility and self-love and is when you place yourself on the pedestal, instead of always putting the other there. We all have a small little pedestal for ourselves which we should fill with the garland of self-love, self-care, and self-respect. It is when we give ourselves time to acknowledge our needs and wants and provide them with a listening ear, we do ourselves the essential service. There’s a saying which goes like this — In a world that thrives on self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act. Be that rebel. Indulge in self-care.
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