What is Self Care?

I’m adding a new topic to the blog.  Self Care. Why am I doing this?  Well for starters, I had a conversation that went a little like this the other day:

Me:  “Is taking a shower Self Care?”

Astonished Other Person: “No, that’s just hygiene.”

Me:  “Oh.”

What is Self Care? What is Self Care so Important?

So, I started to think about it.  What do I do that might be considered self care?

  • I read about 3 sentences in a book before I fall asleep each night.  I’d like to read more, you know, maybe ten sentences, but I’m TIRED.  Maybe my books are boring.
  • I dry my bangs.  Oh!  And I put this spray in my hair that I love that cost $30 which I didn’t know when I bought it.  My hairdresser recommended it and I said Sure! not knowing that a spray for your hair could actually cost $30.  It is pretty amazing stuff though, so I’d totally shell out another $30 for it.
    But that’s the extent of my hair care routine.  Dry bangs (or else they curl and look utterly ridiculous.  That’s my benchmark.  Utterly ridiculous.  I’m not falling below that line), the rest gets thrown in a bun until it’s mostly dry at which time, I may take the bun out for a little while and the hair looks kind of lovely, with soft, little waves, but inevitably, it goes back into the bun as soon as a rogue piece of hair falls out, lands on my arm and scares me to death because I KNOW THIS TIME IT IS A SPIDER CRAWLING ON ME!
  • I go to the gym on average probably 1.8 times a week.  I hate the gym.  Scratch that.  I actually LOVE the gym.  We join this super awesome one in the summer because they have an awesome outdoor pool for the kids with a water slide.  Being in the “gym” is nicer than being in my house.  For real.  This place is nuts.  So it’s not the gym I hate, it’s the exercise.  This is one I really, really want to work on.  I want to find something I don’t despise and that is also quick to get through.  Oh and results.  I want results.
  • Eating Keto, to me, is Self Care.  I mean, I haven’t figured out anything else in my life that has had a more positive effect on nearly everything in my life.  I’m thinner, I feel great physically and mentally.  I’m happy.  Yes, I blame Keto for all of that.

I think that’s my whole list.  I know brushing your teeth and wearing deodorant don’t count.  I get it.  They fall under hygiene.

To be honest, Self Care is usually something I make fun of in my head.  It’s sounds kind of gross to me and super girly and well, I don’t understand it very well.  And when I don’t understand something, my default, I’ve come to realize, is to say I hate it, or to make fun of it.

Wow, that was revealing.

The Definition of Self Care

I found this definition of self care on Psych Central:

“Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. Although it’s a simple concept in theory, it’s something we very often overlook. Good self-care is key to improved mood and reduced anxiety. It’s also key to a good relationship with oneself and others.”

I find a few things interesting about that definition.  First, the word deliberately.  That says to me that you have to do whatever self care thing you are doing with intention.  You have to set your mind to “I’m going to do this thing because it is good for mental/emotional/physical health”.  Which makes sense.  And destroys my idea of doing Self Care things ironically.

The mindset must be half the battle.  You’re actively putting yourself first.  So, conversely, if you’re getting your nails done every other week because it’s “self care”, but you hate having people touch your hands and you hate going and it interrupts your day, then that’s not self care at all.  It’s the opposite.  So, I won’t be getting my nails down every week, ok?  I can do without the hand touching.

The other thing that is interesting in the definition is that it is something that is overlooked often.  Is it overlooked?  Or is it just last on the list?  Or have we conditioned ourselves to think that we don’t have time for taking care of ourselves?  Or do we find the whole concept silly because we don’t understand it? Check all three of those boxes for me, I think.

So, it must be important then, to schedule time for Self Care.  Specific small moments, even.  Just don’t leave it for whenever you have time.  Because you will never have time unless you make it a priority.  Let something else slide for 30 minutes every week.

Self Care Activities

In my mind, before doing any research into Self Care, self care activities were things like:

  • Manicures
  • Green Smoothies
  • Journaling

Those were the sorts of things that came to mind when I thought about self care. And they are self care by the way.  By the definition above, if I set out to get a manicure with the intention that it meant I was taking time to care for myself, then that falls into that definition.

Except, there are some issues for me with that list.  I hate getting manicures; I’ve never had a green smoothie I liked and I’ve never had any desire to “journal”.  So for someone else, those three things might be EXCELLENT self care activities.

For me, not so much.

But that’s ok, because there are other things that I actually like to do and that if I set the intention ahead of time that they are Self Care activities, then they are indeed self care. That list might look more like this:

  • Read a book
  • Walk outside in the woods (well, more like, on a path.  Not like, a forest)
  • Don’t eat sugar

The most important thing I’ve learned about choosing self care activities is to pick ones that you actually enjoy.  Pick something that you really want to do and that doesn’t stress you out.

Why Is Self Care Important

My first answer to why is self care important is because it’s like the airplane thing, where you put your oxygen mask on first before you help your kids.  If you pass out halfway through getting a mask on your kid because you didn’t put your own mask on first, then your kid’s not getting a mask put on.

If you’re not taking care of yourself, you might be less good at taking care of the other people in your life.

But, that whole sentence annoys me. Why is taking care of myself important because it helps me take care of other people?  Why can’t I take care of myself just because I’m selfish and I want to be cared for?

So, I’m going to make Self Care important because I’m actually important.  Just as a singular person, not as a mother/wife/worker.  I live with me all day long, 24/7/365.  I should treat me well on occasion, right?

You should, too.  I mean treat yourself well, not me.  You don’t have to treat me well.  I mean, you can, of course!  But it’s not a self care requirement or anything.

If you need some reminders why Self Care is important, check out these 12 Self Care Quotes that I love!

Let’s start taking care of our selves, intentionally and by doing things we actually like!  Okay?  I even made a list of 34 Self Care Activities for you, in case you need some help deciding what you might like when it comes to Self Care.

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