I have a weekly ritual of pampering myself every Sunday. I shave, take a long shower, do my hair and skin routines, use lotions and creams, wear fuzzy socks, etc. But is this self-care? You could argue that I am, in fact, taking care of myself, but my personal opinion is that while these actions provide immediate gratification, self-care means much more.
I read an article awhile back that really hit home. In sum, it said that all of the aforementioned practices do not equal self-care, because self-care means taking care of yourself holistically. It means doing things that you may not necessarily want to do in the moment, in order to secure your future.
Here’s a list of three things that I believe should be considered self-care, and why. Everybody has different experiences and opinions, so know that these are mine and do with that what you will.
Make a Budget
Nobody likes talking about money (unless they’re making a lot of it). Nobody likes thinking about how far their paycheck will stretch, which bills they’re going to have to pay late, or what meals they’re going to have to skimp on just to make it to the next week. If you are struggling with debt, or simply making ends meet, put together a budget and maybe skip that daily $5 Starbucks and put the money into savings instead. There are tons of apps and programs you can use to track and save your money (I use Digit for iPhone), but the best practice might just be keeping a written log of your spending and earnings. Perhaps invest in keeping a bullet journal and putting together a Savings Tracker. Not only can these feel rewarding in the short-run (coloring in each $5 saved, for example), but it adds up in the long-run ($5/day for a month is $150)!
I say “better” instead of straight-up “healthy” because I know the transition from eating anything and everything to eating mindfully can be really tough. Something I really believe in (but have trouble sticking to) is following If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM). You can eat whatever you’d like, so long as you stay within your calculated carbs, fats, and proteins. IIFYM has a calculator that takes into account a variety of factors to give you a personalized set of macros. Many people use MyFitnessPal on their phones to track calories, but I recommend Macros+ because you can create multiple “days.” Essentially, you can put together a set of macros for sedentary days, and one for more active ones, and switch between them with ease.
Reevaluate Your Relationships
Have a person in your life who makes you feel lesser, is a bad influence, or is simply not good to you? We all do at some point in our lives. These people may be toxic and, hard as it may be, the best thing to do can be to let them go. Sever the hold they have on your life and live it for you. Sometimes that means ghosting them, sometimes it means allowing distance to grow, and sometimes it just means saying “I can’t” when they ask you to hang out or do them a favor.
Nothing is wrong with pampering yourself, but as the article I mentioned states,
“True self-care is not salt baths and chocolate cake, it is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from.”
I believe it’s fine to take a day to enjoy yourself. Keeping clean, getting rest, and relaxing are all great for the mind and body. But don’t let yourself think that doing these things is all you need to live a better life. Make the tough decisions, and follow through with them.