I thrive on New Year’s Resolutions. I enjoy taking some time to think “What do I want to accomplish this year?”. 2018 was a year of massive change. I moved to a new town and challenged myself both personally and professionally. When it came time to draft some resolutions for 2019, all I really wanted to do was rest. After a year of adapting, planning and working my butt off, I felt like I needed some time to just be still and appreciate all that I’ve achieved. It was at that point that I chose to make 2019 my year of true self care.
Let me be very clear: I’m not focusing on “self care” but rather what I call “True self care”. I think it’s important to make this distinction because a lot of people, myself included, seem to be a little bit muddled about what counts as “self care”.
See, I’ve fallen into this trap of basically calling anything that feels good “self care”. Taking a bubble bath? Self care! Spending an evening scrolling through my news feed? It’s totally self care! Getting takeaway for dinner? Yep, that’s self care too! Except that if I’m completely honest with myself, these things might feel nice, but they don’t really count as self care.
The reason I don’t think of these things as “true self care” is because they don’t really serve me in the long run. True self care is activities or things that nurture your body and your mind, that look after you and set you on the right track. Some self care activities might not even feel good at the time, but afterwards you feel so much better for having sorted them out.
Let me be clear in pointing out that things like getting takeaway or treating yourself to a new outfit can still be self care! If you’re absolutely knackered after a huge day, then it might be a very caring thing to give yourself a night off from cooking. The problem is when those occasional acts of “self care” become habits that are destructive.
I am guilty of adopting a number of habits that masquerade as self-care, but which actually aren’t very good for me. For example, I’ve gotten into the habit of taking my laptop to bed and watching Netflix until I fall asleep. This is a throwback from years ago when anxiety-induced insomnia was a huge problem for me and having background noise helped me to fall asleep. Now, my insomnia has gotten better but I continue to hold onto this habit. It feels somewhat decadent to watch television all tucked up in bed. Unfortunately on the nights I bring my laptop to bed I tend to stay awake much later and my sleep is of a much poorer quality. So while I tell myself that watching Netflix in bed is self care, in actual fact it’s doing me more harm than good. True self care would be relaxing with a chapter of my book before lights out.
In 2019, I want to focus on finding the things that truly nurture me. I want to treat myself with care, even if sometimes that doesn’t look as sexy as a glass of wine in the bath or splashing out on a cute new lipstick. I want to get very critical of the habits that are serving to make me the person I want to be, and the ones that masquerade as “self care” but are actually leaving me exhausted, depressed and broke.
Some of the true self care practices I want to adopt this year include:
- Banning my laptop from my bedroom and reading before bed instead.
- Riding my bike to work a few times a week
- Reaching out to friends and family members regularly
- Single tasking, and allowing myself to focus on one thing at a time
- Cooking from scratch rather than relying on takeaway or ready-meals
- Setting aside time to clean my flat
- Regular journal writing
- Making time for my yoga practice
- Losing myself in books that spark my imagination and teach me new ideas
- Spending less time on social media
True self care is such a personal thing. The tasks that are essential for me to feel balanced and well might not work for you at all. I feel like the most important thing is being brutally honest with yourself, and investigating whether there are certain things you do which you label “self care” but which are actually making you feel a bit crap. Are there other self care practices that you could try instead? What would that look like? What would that feel like?
What true self care practices do you have in place? What do you do to nurture yourself?