I used to believe that self-care meant a luxurious spa day and an expensive vacation for the privileged. Some sort of “Pinterest worthy” photo experience that only the elite could afford. I created a story in my mind that it was something I had to aspire to have. If I worked hard enough and made enough money, I too could indulge in the lavish lifestyle of self-care.

The more I explored self-care, the more I realized that self-care is truly a lifestyle, not an expensive retreat, spa day, or vacation.  There are many simple and inexpensive ways to practice self-care.

Self-Care is giving the world the best of you, not what’s left of you.

Katie Reed

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines Self-care as “care for oneself” which makes me wonder, how do you “care for oneself” when you have a family to care for, a never ending to-do list, a team to lead, a calendar full of commitments?

Taking time for “Self-Care” sounds a little selfish and impossible, no?

No, self-care is the truest form of love. It is not selfish to make time for yourself. If you are a giver, like me… I was always afraid to put myself first. I’ve always been responsible and reliable which meant I’ve been the person for many people to lean on. I’ve always showed up and made myself available for the people around me. But when it came to my own needs, I found myself skipping them. I was always giving and slowly I was attempting to pour from an empty cup.

So how do we fill our cup? You have to make yourself a priority by choosing a lifestyle of self-care. This means adding yourself to the to-do list. Taking time to pause when you need a break, eating well, getting enough sleep, and doing things that bring you joy each day.

It’s taking a break, physically and mentally but it’s also disconnecting from your devices and setting boundaries. It’s being mindful of the content you consume. Are you consuming content that brings your joy or content that sparks feelings of jealousy, sadness, anger, stress?  Self-care is consuming feel-good content to keep your mood and energy positive.

Have you ever thought about what makes you feel good? I took the time to write a list of the things that brought me joy and I realized my joy came from very simple things, not my possessions or accolades. The things that brought me joy were right in front of me and they were also things I found myself rushing through or skipping. Understanding the things that make you feel good is a great way to begin a self-care practice.  

A few things on my list:

  1. Listen to music — have a feel-good playlist!
  2. Go for a walk
  3. Drink a cup of tea
  4. Take a bath
  5. Watch a funny video
  6. Read a book

Once you have a list of things that bring you joy, try to do a few of them each day. This is important because “Knowing” doesn’t bring change, Action does. When you begin to take action each day, self-care will eventually become a lifestyle, not a to-do list. When self-care becomes your lifestyle, you become more productive, happier, and your cup begins to fill up.

If I knew self-care could be this simple, I would have started this lifestyle a decade ago and saved myself a lot of stress and burnout. My self-care practice is now an essential part of my overall wellbeing. I’ve learned that it doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated and it’s definitely not a selfish act.

Whatever your self-care practice is, be unapologetic about it and remember that you are taking action to improve your overall well-being and that is something to be proud of.