The Beginners Guide to Self-Care
Self-care is easy to understand but difficult to implement. There are factors that slow down or halt our ability to partake in self-care, but I am here to demystify the secret to a better life.
I spent six years away from home in college. Distractions were sure to come, but my main goal was to graduate, and I did that… Twice! Along the way I found that I did not need to “remember” to eat clean, go to the gym, and see friends – these tasks came rather easy. Texas Tech is big from the outside looking in and yet everything was pointing me in the healthy direction.
However, after moving home and starting my “real world job” I realized that self-care is not as accessible as college life made it feel. For months self-care felt like a myth that never happened for me all those years! Now I have to actively plan ways to put me first?! Yes, my health has to be strategic, and that in itself is a full time job. Thankfully I have years of “self-care experience” being at my fingertips so I am able to drum up my own version of what that should look like now.
What is Self-Care?
Self-care can be described as “taking time to check in with yourself.” While this is not the definition you will find in the dictionary, this is the easiest way to put it. When we love someone we set aside time to make sure they are doing well. In the same sense, self-care is setting aside time to ensure you are continually succeeding in your goal to be happy and healthy.
Self-care can be achieved in a myriad of ways – a spa day, reading a book, a day off, a night out with friends, sleeping in early or late, etc. However, there is a common myth that these tasks are the key to self-care. No, the goal is to continually check-in with yourself to make sure you are doing well. So the tasks you choose to achieve your goal is not equal to the goal itself. You and I may enjoy similar task but that doesn’t mean that the things are the key to reaching self-care. In fact the intentions you set to care for yourself on a consistent basis is what helps you reach your goal.
If doing task equated to self-care then the busy life would be ideal. In truth, busyness causes you to reach burnout quicker. It is much better to pace yourself and focus on what you are trying to achieve, not how much effort you are giving to achieve. This shift of focus – aka cognitive reframing – is the secret to your overall success.
How to start self-care
This may seem a bit unorthodox when it comes to what you will read or hear from others on this topic, but here are my two tips:
- Know the true definition of self-care from Oxford’s dictionary, “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” The wording of this is nice and easy to interpret.
- Reinterpret Oxford’s meaning. Create a definition that is of your own language. Whether it’s very similar to what Oxford has stated or more elaborate, venture into what self-care means for you.
Now that you have your own definition I want to highlight that self-care is a full body workout, figuratively and a little literal. You are investing your time into your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual banks to keep a constant and steady flow.
With this information you are now able to visualize what works best for you. Do not be discouraged, many people pick and choose which parts to focus on. For example, not everyone is able to be physically active due to health reasons. In the same sense, not everyone is open to spiritual involvement due to their personal beliefs. However, if you are willing and able, making a plan for each of these categories would be the next big step to take.
That’s all there is to it, now it’s time to do the work!
Tips for success with self-care
Here’s an example on how to actively plan self-care for your physical health:
Instead of deciding to throw out your entire fridge and pantry, start a bit smaller. The first goal will be to choose a meal that you can actively plan to eat clean. Let’s say you decide that your goal is to eat a clean breakfast for seven days straight, then after six weeks you can add another step. After those six weeks your next goal can be to continue eating a clean breakfast every morning and also start including a 15 minute walk around your neighborhood. Slowly but surely you are increasing your goals and building healthy habits!
For a real life example, I purchased a fitbit and it helps me track my steps and challenge myself everyday! I started with a goal of 10,000 steps per day and I try my best to push myself beyond this number. After a full month of reaching 10,000 steps I will increase my goal to 11,000 steps per day. Add me on fitbit so we can hold each other accountable and encourage each other to keep going (username VitaminJae)!
Just like that you are on your way to a healthier life by starting small and growing. You are free to make any goal, just be sure to make it realistic. It is much easier to be kind to yourself as you grow into your discipline rather than expecting drastic changes in a short amount of time. And if you’re up for a challenge, use the guide below to start your self-care journey.
Start Your 30 Day Self Care Challenge
Common Questions/FAQ About Self-Care
Am I selfish for taking time for self-care?
- I will say yes, but in the best way. Knowing your limits and creating boundaries is important. This is best practice for you and the people who you interact with on a regular. If nothing else, we should all be encouraging ourselves and one another to be a little selfish sometimes.
Do I have to be alone for self-care?
- This is two-fold. Yes, your self-care should certainly include time spent alone for reflection purposes. And also no, being surrounded by those we share mutual love with is surely an adequate means of self-care.
Is traveling a requirement for self care?
- Traveling the world is a really big fad that many have intertwined with their self-care. But traveling is a requirement only if YOU want it to be. Exploring the world had never really been a strong desire for me growing up. I have been out of the city, state, and country, but that desire had to grow over time once I got older. Seeing the world is a great privilege, but it is not a necessity to your self-care.
- Aside from needing the desire to travel, traveling comes with budgeting, time-management, planning, and many more steps that could place one at a disadvantage. If you would like to get out of the house and explore then you can start with your own or nearby attractions that can serve a similar purpose as traveling abroad. Remember, start small and then grow.
Self-care is common sense, isn’t everyone doing it at some point?
- Unfortunately, no. As I stated earlier, self-care is easy to understand but difficult to implement. Life happens and things don’t always go as planned. Whether you are single, dating, married, have kids, whatever, life is busy and does not always allow for even a moment to sit and read this blog post. This is the reality of the life we live and the time we have to work with. Taking 5 minutes to yourself seems easy, but it is not the case for all.
The Last Thing You Need to Know About Self-Care
Knowing what self-care means to you will help you shape your own goal to attain it. Remember to be kind to yourself on this journey because it is a lifetime marathon, not a 50 yard dash.
Leave a comment below to let me know your definition of self-care! I would love to know what goals you are setting or currently accomplishing for your self-care.