“Self-care” has become a hyped-up buzzword, but what does it really mean, and why is everyone talking about it? The chatter around self-care has allowed the concept to evolve into something surface-level. People talk about self-care when they treat themselves to a fancy lunch or splurge on a new handbag, but this version of self-care lacks depth and a well-rounded approach. True self-care involves actually caring for ourselves, inside and out.
We live in a world where we are bombarded by media, people, signs, advertising, deadlines, notifications, etc. We are constantly stressed, which is why many people indulge in some not-so-healthy behaviors as a method of coping. As we push our bodies and minds day after day, we become willing to do whatever it takes just to sustain the momentum. We desperately turn to things for pleasure and relief, only to be left wanting.
Binge watching TV, eating ice cream, or getting a mani/pedi might be a good start for immediate emotional and physical pleasure, but these behaviors might also just be quick fixes with no long-lasting relief. We must do more than this to care for ourselves. If these are the only behaviors we use to cope, we will quickly find ourselves mentally, emotionally, and physically lazy, not to mention very overweight and unhealthy. While these behaviors might help use to self-soothe in the moment, they aren’t sustainable habits or good examples of self-care. True self-care is about self-love – listening and respecting the signals our bodies send us and practicing healthy behaviors that nourish us holistically.
What is the ‘self’ in ‘self-care’?
Self-Care is not about being selfless or selfish. It’s about taking responsibility for ourselves – being thoughtful to our minds and bodies, invoking healthy boundaries, expressing gratitude for ourselves and our lives, and being mindful.
Self-Care is all about and not limited to: massages, eating a clean diet, staying hydrated, nourishing our minds and souls, reading, spending time in nature, engaging regularly with a life coach or other practitioner, traveling, expressing mindful gratitude, learning, being with loved ones, staring a blank wall, gazing at the stars, exercising, meditating, saying yes when we mean yes and no when we mean no, accepting compliments, loving who we are at the deepest level, healing our fears, hurts, pains, injustices, and resentments, and much more.
Many like to cherry-pick what just feels “yummy” or good in the moment – the easy efforts. While these behaviors are helpful on some level, they don’t necessarily reach all levels. Self-care is about self-healing, self-awareness, and self-realization. It is about loving and caring for ourselves in ways that others are unable to. It’s about prioritizing our mental and emotional health as much as our physical health, spiritual well-being, and hygiene.
The Fruit of Our Labors
When we feel vibrant, energized, and nourished, mentally and emotionally, we are better equipped to heal and maintain our physical health. By regularly practicing self-care, we can transform ourselves in accordance with whom we deem the best version of ourselves to be.
We should engage in practices that breed love and compassion for ourselves, as this love transcends ideologies and sends a message. It must be nurtured, nourished, and cared for deeply. We must love ourselves inside and out and teach people how to treat us, how to like us, and how to love us. In doing so, we create and maintain solid, healthy boundaries as a part of caring for ourselves.
Ultimately, self-care is about being ourselves—showing up curiously, openly, willingly, and continuously to learn just who that is and honoring that being.
- By Melissa Reese