Self-Care Isn’t Just Bubble-Baths and Candles

“Self-compassion is simply giving the same kindness to ourselves that we would give to others”—Christopher Germer

I’m pretty big on self-care. As I said in my last article, the older I get, the more I realize that my wants and needs are priorities, too. My version of self-care means that I generally wake up early, do yoga, spend some time reading for fun, or take a bath at the end of a long day. However, self-care isn’t always deep-breathing and bubble-baths – there are many things that you can do to take care of yourself. Today, I thought I’d talk about eight different ways you can practice self-care:

  1. Treat yourself

This might seem like a cliché, but it’s true! Sometimes it feels good and refreshing to take yourself out to dinner, or to buy that new pair of jeans you’ve been eyeing, or even just to go get a pint of ice cream. It’s the little things that help keep us grounded and that make the big things seem less stressful.

Self-Care 3

  1. Make time for yourself

This one can definitely seem like a “duh” moment, but making time for yourself can be one of the most difficult things to do. Whether you’re a busy parent, or a single college kid, it can be hard to make time for the things that you want. There are so many other important needs and tasks that occupy your time (i.e. finals, making sure your kid gets to their piano lesson on-time, etc.), that it can be easy to let the things that are for you slip through the cracks. I know, it might seem silly to take five minutes a day to just sit, or read a chapter in that book you put down a couple of weeks ago, but it will make all the difference in your mental state to do it.

  1. Do the things that make you happy

Okay, I know, another “duh” moment, but this one is just as important! What makes you happy is not necessarily what’s going to make me happy. If you couldn’t already tell, yoga and reading with a nice cup of coffee are my happy places, but it could be totally different for you! My best friend? Total green thumb, and playing in the dirt is what makes her feel most like herself. She has absolutely no interest in yoga or reading, and that’s okay! She takes care of herself by spending time with her plants, and using them to make delicious food. Your version of self-care might not look the same as anyone else’s.

  1. Exercise

This one is pretty new for me, as well, but exercise is proven to elevate your mood and make you happier. This was something that I struggled with forever: I was one of those girls in college that could eat and drink whatever I wanted and not gain an inch (I know, we’re the worst), but as I’ve gotten older, that’s definitely not the case anymore.  It seemed like as soon as I hit the other side of 25, I was feeling sluggish all the Legally Blondetime, and my moods were all over the place. One minute I was happy, and the next, I was crying because I couldn’t reach something in the pantry. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was going on with me. So, I thought I would start running – and let me tell you: it helped tremendously! I have more energy overall, and now, I feel a little stir-crazy if I don’t run. It’s helped to regulate my moods (along with my yoga and meditation practices), which keeps my emotional state pretty sunny.

  1. Do something nice for others

One of the aspects that I love most about yoga is the aspect of service, or “seva”. One of the ways that I serve my community is by teaching yoga, which allows me to directly give back to those around me. While my way to serve is to teach yoga, there are other ways to do this for those around you: “Seva” can be anything – it can be as simple  as telling someone you love them, or buying a coffee for the person behind you in the Starbuck drive-thru. Giving to others can be one of the most rewarding, fulfilling and recharging things you can do for yourself.

  1. Feel your feelings

I think there is a stigma around having or displaying emotions (especially if you’re a woman in America), and I think that it’s stunting our growth. There is nothing more basic or human than our emotions, but we’ve come to a point where we tell ourselves that we shouldn’t be feeling something, or that displays of emotion are bad (particularly if that something has been deemed by society as being negative!) For example, maybe one day you wake up and you don’t feel quite like yourself. You might tell yourself to get over it or that there’s no reason for you to be feeling the way that you’re feeling, and try to ignore it. Well, I would argue that there is always a reason, and that sometimes it’s okay to feel “off” or not like yourself, and not know why. You’re not always going to be happy, the same way you’re not always going to be sad. So, if you feel a certain way: acknowledge that you feel that way; let yourself feel it, and then you can move on or explore why you’re feeling that way.

  1. Learn to say “no”

This might sound counterintuitive, but learning to say “no” has been one of the most productive things I’ve learned in my late-twenties. You don’t have to say Self-Care 1“yes” to everything for people to like you. You don’t have to go to every party, or event, or happy hour. You can take time away from all of that and still maintain your relationships.

  1. Advocate for yourself

Listen to your gut! If something feels off, chances are something is off. Learning to stand up for yourself and to advocate for your needs can be difficult (again, especially as women), but I’ll remind you that you are important and should be treated as such. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Do you think you deserve a three percent pay-raise instead of two-and-a-half? Come up with a list of reasons that support your case, and speak to your boss about it. Are you having issues with a friend? Listen and consider what they are saying, but stand your ground. Advocating for yourself doesn’t mean you have to alienate those around you, but makes your self-worth known.

There are so many different types of self-care, and these are just a few of them. Self-care and mental health go hand-in-hand, and with as much craziness that goes on, day-in and day-out, in our own worlds, it’s important for us to take time for ourselves.

© Keira Mountain 2018

Photos courtesy of Pixabay, gifs via Tenor

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Keira Mountain has always had a love for books and literature. She is a full-time student at the University of Colorado at Denver in pursuit of a degree in English Writing, and hopes to find a place in the publishing industry as an editor after graduation. When she isn’t in class or at work, you can find Keira on her yoga mat, teaching at CorePower in Boulder, reading or cooking.

2 thoughts on “Self-Care Isn’t Just Bubble-Baths and Candles

  1. Excellent title! I’ve heard these items mentioned as self-care techniques over and over again (and I don’t like them!), so I’m intrigued about your topic from the beginning. I like the way that you include a personal example comparing your methods to a friend’s in the “Do the things that make you happy” section. This sets the reader at liberty to think through personal self-care options. I like how you’ve connected the “Exercise” section to an academic resource with data. This is something that we hear all of the time, but I’m not sure how many of us have read the reasoning/proof. I’ve never read something like the “Feel your feelings” section, and I appreciate it. I think this is absolutely true, especially, “You’re not always going to be happy, the same way you’re not always going to be sad.” Did you use any sources for this section?

    – I’m not sure that I’m comfortable with the use of “duh” moments or “it might seem silly.” I can’t quite place what makes me uncomfortable about these. Maybe if I’m someone who hasn’t thought of it, I could feel slighted when it’s referred to as a “duh” moment? I’m not sure :-(.

    – The sentence, “Today, I thought I’d talk about…” feels strange to me. Maybe a bit like a self-help book, which isn’t something I usually like. Making this more personal might help.

    – I like the list, but I’m unsure about the numbering. Are these in order of preference or priority? If not, maybe bullets would work better.

    – In the “Make time for yourself” section, “i.e.” may not be the best expression. This means that you are listing the examples in totality. E.g. would mean, “for example.”

    – In the “Do something nice for others” section, is there an extra space between “simple” and “as”? Also, should “Starbuck” be Starbucks?

    – The punctuation in the final sentence of the “Feel your feelings” section seems a bit off.

    Like

  2. Hi Keira,

    I definitely thought your title was fitting for this article. A lot of times when talking about self-care, bubble baths and candles do come up in conversation, but as you said, everyone’s self-care is different, so it really shouldn’t be all about bubble baths and candles. I really liked how you structured this post. I think that having eight different self-care methods help break up the text and makes your post very interesting to read. The learning to say no portion was relatable. I used to struggle with this and I can agree that saying no sometimes really does help your self-care.

    -There are a few times that you have some unnecessary commas, specifically before some of your “or” and “and” throughout the piece.

    -I noticed that you have a source for your exercise section, but not for your others. I think adding one to each section might be beneficial and could be a good way for your audience to read more if they feel the need to.

    Great work!

    Like

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