We’ve talked about self care on this blog before in our 4 part Self Care Series. For more information, check out our earlier posts: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4. In part 1, we covered the basics. Part 2 was all about the differences between physical, mental, and emotional self care. In part 3, we covered how to make a DIY Self Care Basket. Part 4 talked about some great apps to help you practice self care. For today’s post, we’re coming back to this topic to talk about why, exactly, it is so important.
“Self care is how you take your power back” —Lalah Delia
When I first came across this quote, it really struck me how accurate that felt. For the longest time, I couldn’t put my finger on why. But now I can. After taking a hard look at what it means to practice self care, I came to understand how practicing self care really does help you take your power back.
Part of self care involves maintaining boundaries. It involves actively setting aside time for you to take care of yourself and saying no to commitments that will detract from your mental health. For me, maintaining boundaries meant actively trying to not bite off more than I could chew. I had to remind myself that just because I had an open afternoon during the week, that didn’t mean that I should be trying to fill every afternoon with something to do. I do enjoy being busy, but I had been starting to run myself ragged trying to be everything for everyone all the time. Part of self care for me was to say no to extra commitments and to spend my free afternoon focusing on taking care of myself. Once I recharged my battery, I could enjoy my week without feeling overwhelmed.
Listening to your body
There are so many things in day to day life that will tell you to ignore your body cues. Stress culture will tell you to put off sleep and consume caffeine in order to stay on top of things. Diet culture will tell you to ignore your hunger cues in some elaborate game of “beating” or “tricking” your body. Self care is the exact opposite: caring for yourself involves listening to your body. This could mean choosing fun workouts because you want to move or sleeping in to reduce sleep debt. Practicing self care is actively saying no to all the forces that are trying to shift your priorities away from your wellbeing. When I started to think of self care that way, I honestly felt pretty powerful.
Owning your mental health
Part of having mental health challenges is not always being able to control your moods or compulsions. For me, there are certainly days where my depression makes it very challenging to get out of bed in the morning. There are certainly days where I absolutely spend most of the day in bed. I can’t always control how my depression might affect my day, but instead of giving over to that, I focus on the things that I can control about my day. For my bad days, I have a mental health toolbox with tools to help me be the best I can be even when my mental health isn’t doing so great. Of course, owning your mental health looks different for different people. But it all boils down to learning how to best manage your mental health in a way that works for you. Self care isn’t just about your body, it also involves taking good care of your brain too!
Thanks for reading! What does it mean to you to take back your power through self care? Let us know in the comments below!