Self-Care is Super Trendy Right Now
Over the past few years, the topic of self-care has become a popular one, especially when it comes to women. Though this is a practice I fully support, it is important to know that self-care isn’t all bubble baths, painting your nails, and hitting the town with your girls. Sometimes self-care is setting boundaries, removing toxic people from your life, or asking for that promotion at work because you (and frankly, everyone else) knows you deserve it. Self-care is determining what’s best for your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being, and taking direct actions that align with those principals. It's the belief that our authentic and honest happiness relies on our ability to know ourselves completely so that we may ask for what we need when we need it.
So, when did self-care become so darn popular? According to Slate, an online magazine, after the 2016 presidential election, the term “self-care” was googled almost twice as much as it had been the year prior. In the aftermath of electing a man to the highest office in the world who seemed to have a personal agenda against women or at the very least saw them as property, it became a terrifying time for women in America. Many felt personally targeted. Rather than receiving emotional support, advice to seek mental counseling or write their congressman, they were encouraged to do things like avoid social media, hit the bars with their favorite girls, slam chasers, and take out their frustrations on some bad karaoke.” Understand that suggestions such as these, though they have their place, are only Band-Aids for deeper wounds that require quite a bit more attention. While I admit, these distractions can absolutely be fun, they barely scratch the surface of the actual intention of self-care.
A Little Background on the Birth of the Self-Care Movement
Many are unaware of the fact that self-care actually got its start in the medical field. The main point of focus was helping people find ways of better caring for themselves: specifically those in high stress jobs, individuals suffering from mental illnesses or trauma, the elderly, and people in need of long-term care. Many of these activities were monitored by healthcare professionals. When thinking about self-care today, we as a society tend to lean toward practicing habits that fall more into the physical realm or activities that yield short-term results. But what about habits that create long-term happiness like practicing meditation, therapy or learning to set healthy boundaries?
Boundaries - One of My Faves
Setting healthy boundaries can be a difficult task to approach, especially when those boundaries involve family, loved ones and people in professional environments. Oftentimes we women find ourselves giving and giving with little return, to the point of exhaustion. We either invite toxic relationships into our lives or hold on to them out of a perceived obligation of loyalty. Let’s not forget the need to people please. As a result of these circumstances, we often find ourselves without proper boundaries, which leads to resentment, anxiety, and a poor sense of self. Life becomes unbalanced and less and less time is spent on meaningful activities that give us mental and emotional stability.
I’ve experienced all of these examples personally. It wasn’t until I realized how much of a lack of boundaries impacted my life that I began to commit to being more honest with myself and others about my needs. The next step was to follow that up with action. I had to become comfortable with knowing my own limits, asking for help when I needed it, and saying no to those I loved. This was challenging at first, but I found that the more I was able to do those things, the more I freed up myself to live my life fully. I became more available to my own needs. I had more balance and more peace of mind. Not always, I think this is an unfair expectation, but it was definitely present more often than previously.
Truly understanding self-care is the first step in creating more balance in life. It involves a level of self-curiosity, honesty, and action that at times can feel overwhelming and isolating. It requires finesse, bravery and action. For the women reading this, I would challenge you to think deeply about how you define self-care. How does it show up in your life? Does it show up in your life, and if not, what actionable steps can you take to ensure a deeper understanding of its true intention? In your day to day, what areas could use some work? What practices can you put into place to better embody your own authentic definition of self-care?
This is where we get to be truly curious about ourselves and very honest internally about what we need emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. Have open conversations with your closest friends about what’s worked for them. Ask them how they started their process and how they felt before, during and after. Seek outside help in the form of therapy or coaching if necessary. Try new things and remember that this is a practice that involves a lot of trial and error. What works for one may not work for you, but keep pushing and when you’re feeling overwhelmed, get still and quiet for a bit. What feels choppy and uncertain in the beginning will eventually smooth out and you’ll find yourself feeling happy, joyous and free.
Self-care may be a trendy topic today, but it’s not one that will lose its value or its necessity. By understanding ourselves, we are then able to define what we need and how to go about getting it.