Our culture is confused about what true “self-care” is. Consumer self-care has become a trend of spa treatments, decadent desserts, and an evening glass of wine. True self-care is more than spending money on external distractions and filling desires but is instead checking in with what you really need. Become aware of your needs and implement a morning routine (dinacharya) and cook healthy meals. Attain a life balance, noticing the little things before they become big things, celebrating the little wins with the larger victories, and not concealing imperfections but embracing them as a learning point in the growing process. Self-care allows you to be able to face your challenges and emotional imbalances with perspective, understanding, gratitude, and compassion. Look for fulfillment in life, not the distractions to avoid what is uncomfortable, but a solution to grow through the discomfort.
The parts of self-care are deeper than a massage or a yoga class. It is doing some of the unpleasant things that are necessary to understand that we have the courage and the strength to overcome many of the things we shy away from. It is, for instance, taking the time and patience to learn how to cook healthy meals. It is the courage to tell a toxic friend or lover you can no longer expend the energy in the relationship. It’s figuring out a way to accept yourself as you are so that you are not constantly overwhelmed and exhausted. And, it’s having the courage to say no when you really don’t want to do something.
In the beginning, true self-care seems obvious and ordinary, like taking a bath or sitting on the couch. Self-care is making a practice of gratitude, journaling, reading a book, or spending time away from technology. Self-care should not be something we resort to when we are overwhelmed and exhausted to escape from our own restlessness and internal pressures.
True self-care is about making the choice to build a life you love. It’s about building awareness of your self, and it often takes doing the thing you least want to do in order to create space for the things you do want to do. It often means looking at your imperfections, your failures, and your shortcomings. It involves the surrendering of yourself and letting go. It is not about taking the road less traveled, but rather taking a different path that better fits your needs.
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. The old saying, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it,” doesn’t apply here. If you are not living an optimal life, there are no earthly things that can patch things up. Only you can make the choice to see from a broader perspective and, from there, discern what is best. Sometimes a teacher or therapist can guide us along this journey, but ultimately it is you who makes the decisions.
Choose a different path without allowing others’ disappointment in your decisions to affect you. Explore outside the box and beyond the accepted cultural norms. Live in a way that other people think is crazy, strange, or nonconforming if that is the direction your life needs to take to grow. Let yourself be ordinary and comfortable living in your own way and making your own choices.
Decide how much of your anxiety comes from holding back your potential and hiding behind a mask of perfection. Realize that having an overfilled colander isn’t a badge of honor but a default for lack of boundaries.
Self-care has become consumerized. It is glamorous and short-lived, disconnected from actual wellness. Through proper self-care, it becomes clearer that you can have the courage to live your own life, not allowing society or peer-pressure to victimize your spirit or your authenticity. Be truthful, not passive-aggressive, and communicate from a place of genuine, sincere honesty. This allows you to meet your own needs and release unhealthy co-dependencies.
Self-care allows you to be the authentic, amazing, human being that you are meant to be. It helps us to be the people who know that spa treatments, decadent desserts, and a glass of wine are ways there to enjoy life – not escape from it.