Bubble baths and beautiful smelling candles can be an amazing part of self-care, but self-care goes a lot deeper too. Here’s why self-care is more about a mindset than just an activity.
Let’s be real. Self-care is super trendy right now. I hear about self-care as much as I see teenage girls rocking addidas superstars (and I say that as a proud owner of a pair of superstars.) Part of me loves this. Of course self-care should be popular and on everyone’s lips and instagram feeds. It’s so important, it’s vital.
The other part of me knows that trends usually become over simplified and miss the core juice of the original idea. Also by their very nature, they can come and go just like ponchos and froyo.
That part scares me. Self-care is way more important than just adding a couple relaxing activities to your to-do list.
The definitions of self-care I’ve heard have felt incomplete
For months, I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around why talking about relaxing baths, long walks and lovely smelling candles doesn’t feel enough. I even wrote about how to practice self-care back in January. While a lot of it is true, it feels incomplete. Again, I love all those things and I know I’m not alone. I guess I believe relaxation and “me-time” is just the tip of the self-care iceberg.
I believe that self-care is less about adding another activity to your list, but instead self-care is changing your mindset to prioritize yourself in your own life. Both in the special moments when you are relaxing and in the moments of “normal life.”
I think we’ve all been at a point in our life where we’ve felt uncomfortably busy. Everyone has a different definition of busy, but I’m talking about when your schedule is full and nothing about it excites you. Usually it’s a result of everyone else’s priorities coming before our own, because ultimately we just couldn’t handle letting anyone down.
I think what it comes down to is that we just want people to like us, to love us. It’s in our DNA we need other people for our survival. So saying “yes” to everyone seems like a great way to make everyone love us.
That is, until it stops working.
The problem with always saying yes, to your own detriment, is that, consciously or not, you begin to place a burden on other people for your happiness and fulfillment. It feels like other people’s fault when you’re too busy to breathe. When you give and give and give without first taking care of yourself, eventually you’ll feel empty and I’m guessing that someone along the line will let you down. I know I’ve been there.
It’s not just the obvious examples of putting other people’s priorities first (too often) that wears us down. So often, we let other people’s expectations, opinions, and judgements guide our decision making, like the big decisions.
How many times have you decided to do something just because you thought it would make your parents, or your boyfriend, or your best friend, or your boss, or whoever happy. Even when it drains you. My guess is, if you’re anything like me, you resent them for it too. So even though you meant well, no one wins.
Take the expectations off others by providing yourself with what you need
Now I’m not trying to say that you shouldn’t think of other people. Not at all. However, usually when we make a decision influenced by others, we’re basing it off what we think they think, not actual conversations and compromises made together as team.
I know that making yourself the priority of your life sounds selfish. And maybe it is. But maybe selfish isn’t a bad thing. You shouldn’t expect anyone else to make you the priority of their lives right? Wouldn’t that be even more selfish? Maybe by being selfish and taking care of ourselves, we stop expecting other people to bring us what we need. Which usually leads to disappointment because no one can read our minds.
Self-care takes the burden of other people to meet all of your spoken and unspoken expectations. It allows you just be with that other person and enjoy their presence and light. Maybe self-care is making sure that you have what you need to show up in this world the best you can first. And then, once your needs are met you can give what you can.
I know self-care is going to look different for different people
- For me, self-care looks like knowing when to turn off technology because it’s draining me.
- Self-care looks like setting boundaries with new clients from the beginning.
- Self-care looks like making big decisions with people I care about as a team, not “for me” or “for them.”
- Self-care looks like being honest when I don’t want to attend an event or party or accept an invitation.
- Self-care looks like saying yes to a friend even when I’m feeling anxious, knowing they’ll love me wherever I’m at that day
- Self-care looks like being compassionate with myself when I’m having a bad day.
- Self-care looks like having positive self talk.
I believe self-care means treating yourself with compassion, prioritizing yourself in your own life, and creating boundaries.
Of course bubble baths and long walks can be a part of your self-care, hello they’re awesome. Self-care also looks like boundaries and making decisions based filling yourself up first.