What the hell does self-care look like? A common theme that's been coming up in my practice lately is around self-care. Once upon a time, this was a term only heard in counselor education programs, where it was discussed very abstractly (at least in my experience). I remember clearly sitting in class, hearing how important self-care was in preventing counselor burn out. But...no one could really define for me what exactly I should be doing.
Lately self-care is everywhere i look. People are chatting about it, posting about it...but I think many people question self-care. Is it brushing my teeth every day? A gratitude journal? Is it getting a manicure or going to spa? Is there some magical self-care ritual that everyone else is doing and I haven't mastered it yet?
I guess for me, the answer is self-care is any intentional act that contributes to creating and maintaining your well being. I like to break self-care down into different categories, like physical, spiritual, workplace, relationships/social needs, and emotional. Because I am often an organized freak of nature, I actually color code self-care in my calendar so I can see and track what's going on-but perhaps even more important, so I can PLAN self-care. Because if I don't make time or space for it, it doesn't happen.
The beauty of this self-care thing is that it's different for everyone. There may be some guidelines for like, care and feeding for humans (like sleep and teeth brushing type stuff) but the rest of the recipe for self-care is in your hands. Allow yourself to experiment. Know that self-care is an ever changing thing, growing as you grow, shifting with your needs.
Another really cool thing about self-care is that intentional acts can be thoughts. Choosing to change your thinking or attitude about a situation or person totally COUNTS. When we decide to nix negative self-talk and come up with a new truth for ourselves, that is self-care. When we stick up for ourselves in a relationship that's challenging, that's self-care. When we are afraid of change and do the scary thing any way because we are brave, that's self-care.
It makes me curious, what does your self-care look like? What intentional acts do you do for yourself? My personal favorites right now are yoga class, snuggling my pets, and journaling, but also making sure I get to any and all doctor appointments.