Self Care Isn't Selfish: How to Take Care of You

With the holiday season in full swing and the new year creeping ever closer, we all have a lot on our minds at this time of year. From trying to get thoughtful gifts for our list of loved ones, to reflecting on the past 365 days, to finding time to bake cookies and make it to ugly sweater parties, we are constantly thinking of others. When was the last time we took a moment for ourselves?

A moment for myself? We tell ourselves that we don't have time for such a luxury. There is work to be done, presents to buy, lists to check off and sleep to be had. There isn't an extra moment in 24 hours that we could possibly afford to take to check in with ourselves. Right? Then we wonder why we are constantly tired, achy, and irritable. We get sick, we feel stressed and anxious and suddenly the holidays are a time of misery instead of a time of connection and love.

It isn't just this time of year either. Self care is a year round antidote for stress, among other things. We've all heard the saying, "We can't pour from an empty cup." Each one of us needs to take that quote to heart and let it linger in our minds each and every day. If I don't take care of myself, how can I take care of others? Just like self love, self care gives us permission to think about ourselves.

Treat this idea as if it were a doctors visit, only this doctor is free and available whenever we need. We can implement self care as often as we require, whether this is once a month, once a week, or everyday. Sit quietly with yourself and check-in. How am I feeling today, this week, this month? Where are my thoughts? Notice what's been on your mind. Am I stressed, angry, or sad? Where are these emotions coming from in me? Have I been getting enough sleep? Enough exercise? Have I been eating healthy?

After we check in with ourselves and notice where we are and what we've been doing it's important to let go of judgments or negative self talk. If you realize you've been eating junk food or haven't exercised in a while, recognize this and then take action. Allow any thoughts like, "I'm so dumb for doing that." or "I'll never get it right." to fade away and remember that those thoughts don't serve you. Change those thoughts into things like, "I will be aware of my choices and find a balance." and "I'll be mindful each day of my journey."

Try making an intention for your day, week, or month. This can be whatever you need in the moment. Perhaps you need a week of self care. Make that your intention and take time each day to do something for yourself. When we take the time to fill ourselves up and replenish our good energy we may find we want to make our daily intention to serve others or to be generous. When we feel good, we have the means to make others feel good.

But what exactly is self care? Self care is anything you do by yourself that makes you feel good and isn't harmful to your health. Maybe your self care is going for a walk, or a hike. It could be spending time in nature, looking at the clouds or stars, meditating, taking a bath, going to the gym, taking a yoga class, even just making time for a nap! Journaling, people watching at your favorite coffee shop, getting a massage, window shopping, painting or creating art; all of these things constitute as self care as long as they feel easy and peaceful. The one thing self care shouldn't be is a chore. It can be as simple as sitting down and closing your eyes for 5 minutes or as complex as planning a vacation for yourself to unwind and relax for a whole week.

The point is, it's something for YOU, and you alone. It should be a time to let your mind wander, to let go of the daily to do lists, worries, and stresses. It's a time to come back to your authentic self, your purpose, your own unique energy and fill yourself back up with peace. We all, everyone of us, deserve this.

So when was the last time you took care of yourself? If you check in and find that it's been awhile, give yourself permission to take in some TLC today! 

Cover photo by Erin Miles