I’m pretty sure that I am not the only one who knew about self-care before it became the buzzword of the social scene. I first heard the term in my first year of college. Self-care was introduced to us as a tool that we as future graduates would need to work on and eventually master to—for lack of a better term—not go batshit crazy. Working within the social services sector you encounter and work with a lot of vulnerable individuals who have experienced some of the worst things imaginable. As the worker hearing and sometimes enduring some of these things with your clients, it can become difficult to not take it all home. So, we must learn and master the art of self-care. What I began to realize about self-care was that it wasn’t just myself and my classmates that needed to learn and master this, everyone needed to know. In comes social media with its all-knowing self-care edict.
Beyond the memes and the jokes and the obvious sayings and quotes behind self-care, what is it exactly? Is it taking time for yourself—you know—taking an extra 30 minutes out of the day to sit and read, taking an extra long bubble bath with some essential oils and the sweetest smelling bath bomb? Is it cutting off toxic friendships and relationships and focusing on what makes you happy? The truth about self-care is that it is personal. Let’s call it the art of caring for oneself. This, like many other works of art, has multiple dimensions and can be defined in many ways by different people. You, as the painter of the art which is yourself, can include whatever you want and whatever makes you happy. To help you I have compiled a list of five tips to assist you in creating your masterpiece of self-care.
Look at you caring about you. What a revolution!
- Listen to your body. Your body is a great resource and holds most of the answers to the questions you seek about yourself. Do regular self check-ins, especially when you’re faced with or experiencing different emotions. Check to see how you respond and how your body responds. It is a great indicator.
- Find and use healthy coping mechanisms.Stress is inevitable. Through various methods, we are bombarded with information, daily—hourly in fact. This sometimes sends our stress receptors into overdrive and, well, cue the negative self talk… and more inevitable stress, worry, panic, depression and then some. Not to mention the everyday obstacles that we face. What is helpful during these moments? What helps you and keeps you grounded? How can you utilize this the next time you experience stress or are in unfavourable circumstances? (Also note that coping mechanisms can change over time.)
- Your options are endless. You are never bound to just one thing at a time or one thing for multiple situations. I have known many people who, if stressed about work, find it helpful to take a vacation or take some time off. And others that find it helpful to talk out their feelings with a loved one. Some cook, some clean, some read, some write. There is no playbook and there is no map.
- Take as much time as you need. Who says that I can’t sit in my own filth a.k.a. a bubble bath for more than an hour, or have that second glass of wine, or go for a walk in the freezing cold, or scream and have a good cry in your pillow at night. Or… well you get the message. Take as much time as you need to.
- Be creative. This is self-explanatory. Remember when I said that there is no playbook or map… well I lied. There is a playbook and a map, only you are the creator of it…. See what I did there? Think outside of the box, be creative. Just as an artist is with their masterpiece, be passionate and creative about caring for yourself.
I hope that you find this list helpful and I hope that you are taking care of yourself. Not everything listed may apply to you and not everything will work for you and that is okay. But consider yourself the painter and paint some damn art with your self-caring ass. Look at you caring about you. What a revolution!