Self-care is defined as the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health. So why is everyone telling you to drink tea, meditate, and do all of these things that may not seem like they fulfill you, if it is about finding ways to improve one’s own health and wellbeing? Well, people project what they think might work on other people, but self-care is a time for reminding yourself of your individuality. In recent years self-care has become this taboo idea that people promote, the marketing of self-care has encouraged some people to participate, but turned others away from the idea. It’s important that we realize self-care is simply about taking care of yourself in whatever way works for you. It’s not always an activity, sometimes it is just changing lifestyle habits or exercising willpower and self-restraint.

It takes effort and time to figure out what will allow people to really get in touch with their emotions, but it is worth it. Self-care can and will help your mental health because you are spending time doing things that fulfill you, but also helps you get in touch with how you feel. So, Ayana wants you to be aware of your excuses when you put self-are on the back burner, so that you can, instead, embrace it and do things for yourself.

“I do take care of myself”

It’s often hard for people to fully understand and commit to self-care because when someone asks you if you take care of yourself, your answer is probably yes, when you feed yourself, get sleep, and have good hygiene habits. However, that is leaving out one important part of who you are: the inside; your mind, emotions, and feelings. It is so utterly important to be in touch with these things, it will help your body feel better and be more productive.

Self-care is about doing things that make your mind happy, that can either mean relaxing or thrilling or working hard, but no added stress or pressure. Some people see this as relaxing every night in a quiet room with a candle lit and essential oil diffusers, but others see it as going for a walk or hike every weekend. This is part of taking care of what your mind needs, it often needs a break from reality, whether that be work, school, economic stress, family, friends, etc. Although you may love every part of what you do, a lot of your responsibilities involve doing things for others and that pressure will add up and can lead to burn out if you do not take care of your own needs as well.

“I don’t like meditation”

A lot of the self-care promotions and marketing techniques have come from big companies promoting yoga and meditation as a way to take care of yourself. And this is definitely an ample way to fulfill oneself. Meditation does allow people to focus on the present, feel whatever it is that they are feeling in that moment instead of worrying about the past or future, and it then helps relax the mind and body. If you have never tried meditation, it is worth giving it a try, or at least have an open mind to the idea, because you never know what may come of it. One simple way to begin is doing it on your own through your phone using an online meditation as there are many free apps and videos out there.

However, we know it is not for everyone. Some people try meditation and do not feel very fulfilled from it, and that is okay. There are other options to doing self-care! The journey of taking care of yourself is about growth and open-mindedness, try new things out and see what helps fulfill your mind and soul. It is okay if this takes time. As mentioned above this will look different for everyone. Exercising is a great form of self-care if that is something that is rewarding to you, however many other people dread exercising because of body-image struggles in their past or just the stress it puts on their body, and that is just fine.

Some other ideas:

  • Reading
  • Writing/Journaling
  • Listening to/Playing music
  • Coloring
  • Swimming
  • Puzzles/Mind Games
  • Finding quiet places to explore
  • Go outside

“Isn’t self-care selfish?”

After spending 12 hours a day caring for children, responding to your boss, giving friends advice, offering family members help, it is time to check-in with yourself. If any situation was reversed, would you tell a friend that taking time for themselves was selfish?

Allowing yourself time to relax and reflect is an important part of being an individual and being able to grow into a better person.

This is why sometimes self-care is all about exercising your will power or self restraint and setting boundaries. Saying no to people asking for a favor or inviting you out is hard. You question whether or not you will be judged, upset them, or disappoint them if you reject their offer, however, it is important not to force yourself to do anything you do not want to do. Otherwise you may subconsciously hold that against them and yourself in the future.

Accept what you want to do and do not feel guilty for what you don’t want to do. This is part of keeping yourself healthy. Your friends and family won’t consider it selfish of you for taking a night or two to yourself.

“I don’t have time”

A big part of self-care is being aware of the need for it. Having a family, a job, going to school, and being a human takes a lot of energy, but that is why it is necessary to take time for yourself. It will help ease your stress and make accomplishing your goals easier and more pleasurable.

Self-care doesn’t always have to be doing something outside of your usual lifestyle. Part of it is eating the right things, getting a proper amount of sleep, holding back on caffeine, drinking enough water, and exercising will power. So if you feel as if you don’t have time to do a large activity, at least start with these healthy habits. Take the time you do have and make the most of it, just check in on yourself, that’s the biggest first step.

Originally published at ayanatherapy.com