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What Self Care Really Means and How to Practice It

By Melissa Reese / Guidely

There is a lot of questioning around what self care really means. The hyped-up buzzword “self care” can be found just about anywhere; online, in print, and in so-very-many-conversations. But, what does self care really mean? What does it include? Why is everyone talking about it? We see it everywhere. However, most ideas regarding “self care” are pretty surface as they lack depth and a well-rounded approach.

What is Self Care

We live in a world bombarded by media, people, signs, advertising, deadlines, plans-upon-plans, and so on. We are stressed to the max and many tend to indulge in some not-so-healthy behaviors to deal and cope. Our body ages and our organs, hormones, and minds are pushed to the brink with each moment we fill—doing our best to keep water out of our hole-laden boats. We desperately turn to things for feel-good, pleasure, and uplift, but only to be still left-wanting. Self care is about self love and actually caring for yourself, inside and out. There is more effort in caring for yourself than you may want to acknowledge or do (due to the already overwhelmed state you’re in).

How to Practice It

Binge watching show(s), eating ice cream, and getting a “mani” and “pedi” might be a good start for the immediate, emotional, physical, and surface pleasure, but it can also be a band-aid or flat out crappy coping mechanism. We tend to do things for immediate pleasure, but more often than not this is a temporary escape and/or avoidance from doing the real work. You must do more than this to care for yourself.

If you just ate indulgent food, watched crappy TV, and tended to your fingers and toes, you’d quickly become mentally, emotionally, and physically inept, very unhealthy, and it wouldn’t really matter what your nails look like. Eating crappy food and watching crappy TV is not what self care really means, it’s self-soothing or pacifying.

What self care really means - a coffee, a book, and reading glasses over a bed.

What Self Care Really Means

Self care is not about being selfless or selfish. It is about being thoughtful to yourself, invoking healthy boundaries, loving your self and your life way more often than not. Self care is all about being mindful; being mindful about what you eat, what you watch, who you hang around, what you engage in, and what brings joy and happiness versus just pleasure (most often void of joy and happiness). It’s about taking responsibility for your being.

What self care really means is all about and not limited to: massages, eating a clean diet, staying hydrated, nourishing your mind, nourishing your soul, reading, spending time in nature, a standing appointment with a life coach or other practitioner, traveling, mindful gratitude, learning, being with loved ones, staring at a blank wall, gazing at the stars, a retreat, “mani’s” and “pedi’s,” exercising, meditating, saying yes when you mean yes, saying no when you mean no, knowing why you are saying yes and no, knowing who you are saying yes or no for, accepting compliments, loving who you are at the deepest level, working through and healing your fears, hurts, pains, injustices, resentments, and plain ol’ shit. Plus more.

Many like to cherry-pick what just feels “yummy” or good [for the moment]—the easy “efforts.” While that’s helpful on some levels, it doesn’t reach all levels–it’s a short burst that yields no long-lasting results. Self care is about self-healing, self-awareness, self-realization, loving and caring for yourself in ways that others are unable to and never could. It’s about prioritizing your mental and emotional health as much as your physical health, spiritual well-being, and hygiene.

The Importance of Self Care

When we feel vibrant, energized, and nourished, mentally and emotionally, we are better equipped to uplift our physical health inside and out. A practice of gratitude fuels the soul and ignites the spirit. We must love what is in our skin and take the steps to transform ourselves in accordance with who we deem the best version of ourselves to be.

We teach people in our lives how to treat us, how to like us, and how to love us. Think about how you treat, talk to, think about, and LOVE yourself. We must have defined and healthy boundaries as a part of caring for ourselves. The love you have within for who you are transcends ideologies, it sends a message, it precedes you, and it must be nurtured, nourished, and cared for deeply.

Self care is about being yourself—showing up curiously, openly, willingly, and continuously to learn just who that is; honoring and LOVING that being. And that is what self care really means.

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