Let’s be completely honest. I haven’t always been the best at taking care of myself. I used to put my emotional and wellness needs on the back burner in order to be the best student, the best friend, and eventually the hardest worker. On the outside I’m sure I looked like I had everything together. My hair was always done. My clothes were fresh. My shoe game was on point. But on the inside it was quite a different story. My well-put-together facade made it even harder for me to admit to myself that I needed to slow down and make real time to take care of Number One. After years of dealing with anxiety, self doubt, and depression and finally having the courage to stand up for me, here I am.
Self care should be at the top of our priority list, but for many of us that seems selfish. As a woman, my first inclination is to tend to others before myself. Lend a helping hand. Go out of my way to let someone else know I care. Give love without expecting anything in return. Women are the caretakers of this world. We take care of our families, our friends, our kids, our husbands and boyfriends, our aging parents, and even the elderly neighbor in our apartment building. We do charity work, organize fundraisers, foster pets…the list goes on. I’m not sure if we do it from the bottoms of our hearts or out of obligation, but think about just how much we do for others. Now think about how detrimental that can be when we don’t first take care of ourselves. This can all turn into stress, and let’s be real: women are more likely to be effected by stress than men due to hormones and societal norms. That’s why you see us getting all upset having hot flashes, not sleeping, and worrying while dudes sit back and chill. Man, they have it so easy.
Now you may be asking – what exactly is self care? Is it getting your nails done every week? Is it going to the gym? Is it getting together with your girls every weekend for brunch? I say yes. Self care is whatever you do to stay physically, mentally, and emotionally fit. Everyone approaches this differently, but basically you want to do whatever lifts your spirits and in a healthy, non life threatening way (so that crazy bender in Vegas is out). Think yoga, journaling, hiking, prayer. You see what I’m getting at.
Let me make this loud and clear: SELF CARE IS NOT SELFISH. Anyone who tells you differently is an asshole. That person is selfish. Yes I said it. How is self care hurting someone else? It’s not. In actuality, you caring about yourself benefits them. I just had a flashback of recent conversations with a girlfriend who’d dealt a guy that got mad because she wanted to take much needed time to figure out herself instead of diving into a relationship. She felt guilty about admitting that she needed space for her. Ladies and gentlemen, you should never feel guilty about taking time for you. How can you give everything of yourself and leave nothing for yourself? It should be the other way around. Do for you first and foremost. The more love and energy you have for you the more you can manifest for the people you love.
How do you practice self care? Start by genuinely making time for you. If you’re a planner, try to schedule your self care whether it’s a yoga class or a spa day. This next tidbit is super important if you’re a worrier. Stop internalizing and actually start tackling your stress. Remember that scene from A Different World when Whitley was stressed about work and her relationship, so the psychiatrist told her to “Relax, relate, release“… do that shoulder movement and all! I carry all my tension in my shoulders so this works wonders for me. Relax, stretch, and breathe. It’s so simple but it really helps to clear your mind. Why do you think yoga is so popular. Most importantly, make time to do the things you love that remind you to love you. Write love poems to yourself. Cuddle up with an inspirational book. Take yourself out on a date. Buy yourself flowers. You don’t have to wait on someone else to show you they love you, you can do it for yourself.
For me, self care is all about managing stress, uplifting my spirit, and honoring myself. I do this by waking up every morning in a good mood ( and if you’ve seen my InstaStories then you know). I say a little prayer of thanks for the air that I’m breathing and the sweet cat cuddled up beside me. I meditate regularly to decompress my brain from anxiety. This battle with anxiety has gone on my entire life and for the past 20 years meditation and deep breathing are the only things that have calmed me. To tackle my self doubt, I write weekly intentions and say daily affirmations to remind myself of my worth. Recently I’ve taken to burning sage, Palo Santo, incense and using rose quartz to rid my surroundings of bad spirits and energy. Call me New Agey, but these things remind me to clear my head of negativity, open my heart and love myself. It’s not for everyone, but for now all of this works wonders for me.
Repeat after me: SELF CARE IS SELF LOVE. It’s okay to make your emotional and wellness health a priority. You should never feel bad about loving and caring for you. Remind yourself daily that you need to invest in self care to live and thrive. Write those affirmations. Don’t put on a facade of happiness when you’re hurting on the inside. I learned this the hard way. Remember and say it with me again, SELF CARE IS SELF LOVE. Once more…
SELF CARE IS SELF LOVE.
Now, believe it and put it into practice.
*This piece is part of a new monthly collaborative series called The Refined Collective. This month we’re talking Self Care. Show some love and and check out the other ladies in our village Katherine Harris, Lauren Scruggs Kennedy, Tutti del Monte, Chelsey Korus, Joanne of Go Fit Jo, and Danielle Bennet.*