The phrase self-care is becoming more and more popular. It is a phrase we hear all over social media or in conversations with friends, and it has even become its own hashtag, ex: #selfcaresunday on Instagram. However, sometimes it is used more as an excuse to self-indulge and less as a practice of *self-compassion. So, what does actual self-care look like?
From a therapeutic standpoint, it looks like taking care of yourself in multiple ways. It can look like eating well, exercising, practicing mindfulness or even engaging in spiritual practices. It can involve making space to spend time with loved ones. In addition to taking care of your physical and emotional health, it is equally important to attend to the mental aspect of self-care.The mental aspect of self-care is an area of ourselves that we can often neglect if we are not being intentional. How often do you take time to sit with yourself to see where your mind is and what is going on? Do you find yourself constantly trying to keep busy or distracted so you don’t have to think? If this at all sounds familiar, then you may want to keep reading to find some ways you can take time to care about yourself on the inside.
What does your self-talk sound like?
It is important to make note of how your self-talk impacts your self-care. Consider the following, how kind are you being to yourself as you go about your daily routine? How easy or challenging is it for you to say compassionate things to yourself when you make mistakes? In the wise words of Ru Paul, “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” Oftentimes we do not want to take time to notice how damaging a lack of self-kindness can be to our mind. Consider the R.A.I.N. exercise which can be used as a way of exploring yourself and what you are feeling in a compassionate and non-judgmental way. Self-care is a choice that has to be made on a daily basis. In this life you will constantly face situations in which you will have to choose between being kind to yourself or negate yourself the opportunity to experience kindness in that moment.
How do you take care of yourself through adversity?
Part of life includes dealing with the consequences of our choices. We also cannot avoid life’s random accidents which can bring adversity. During these times, how do you deal with yourself and others? How do you respond? Do you engage in self-care or is that the first thing to go out of the window? In the Bible, the author of Colossians 3:12 invites the reader to consider clothing themselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, there is value in noting that the author is asking the audience to consider choosing to live in a compassionate way through all that life can bring.
Life is all about how we choose to face it. So reader, I challenge you to choose to respond to yourself with kindness and compassion on a daily basis, because you already know what the alternative is. If you find yourself at a place where you are already working on these issues, then I commend you for having the courage and strength to practice self-care. However, if you are at a place where you are uncertain about what steps to take, then perhaps consider visiting a counselor who can help you in your journey towards greater self-care.
* Self-Compassion: Recognizing your own pain, suffering or discomfort and then choosing to respond with kindness.
Other resources to consider:
Manet Castaneda, LPC-InternResident Therapist
Supervised by Amy Fuller PhD, LPC-S, LMFT-S