Does putting on a face mask, doing your nails, and bingeing Netflix make you feel better? Feel whole? Centered? Grounded? Relaxed?
Yeah, no, me neither.
Self-care is such a buzzword at this point, it almost makes me want to gag. I don't know about you, but I'm tired of hearing it being thrown around like a trend.
Taking care of yourself is not the same as bell-bottom jeans or frosted tips.
It's something critical to your health and well-being.
Let's start treating it way. Here's my take on some more... substantial self-care tactics.
Eat or Drink Something Good
No, not necessarily something "yummy," but good as in healthy. When you are feeling low or just not yourself, chug a green smoothie, eat some fruit, or down a glass of lemon water. By giving your body the nutrients it needs, you're helping your body work to create all the good things it needs to work properly. According to LiveScience, "Studies have also suggested that an increased intake of vitamin B12, also present in fruits and vegetables, may boost a neurotransmitter in the brain called serotonin." You also will just get that sense of accomplishment because you know you just did something good for your body. Self-care starts from the inside!
Do Something Creative That You Genuinely Enjoy
"Self-Care Days" don't have to mean doing nothing. Personally, I often think that people look at these days as lazy days. Now, if vegging out on the couch walking reruns of Lucifer is what lifts your spirits, by all means please do so (guilty). But! I don't think "rest" has to equal "inactivity."
If there is a book by one of your favorite authors or personalities that just came out, read it. If there's a certain activity or hobby you like, but never have time to do during the work week, do it.
Personally, one of my favorite ways to take care of myself emotionally is to paint. I am not a "painter." I wouldn't say I'm great at it. I don't actively practice or learn about it. But, I like mixing paints and dolloping giant globs of colors onto canvases and making textured shapes. Don't know why, but I do. So I do it, when I'm looking to take care of myself.
Get Out in Nature
Take a nap in the grass. Climb a tree. Hike a mountain. Go swimming in the river. Pet a cactus.
Just get back to the earth. According to a study done by the University of Minnesota: "Being in nature, or even viewing scenes of nature, reduces anger, fear, and stress and increases pleasant feelings. Exposure to nature not only makes you feel better emotionally, it contributes to your physical wellbeing, reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones."
On an energetic and spiritual level, you are getting back to your natural state. By going into nature, as a thing of nature, you are connecting with where you belong. No screens, no wifi... nothing is keeping you from being your truest, most natural self in your truest, most natural state.
Forgive the Lack of Productivity
In truth, this shouldn't be something we have to "forgive," but at least in the U.S., we base our self-worth on how much we contribute to the bottom line or how much our ego says we've accomplished.
Which is just gross.
I can't think of a more eloquent word at the moment to describe just how damaging and hurtful that ideology can be. That allows no room for rest and recuperation, unless you want to be miserable emotionally.
Resting, or just not working, can do several things to actually boost productivity later down the road.
"Spending more time resting and less time actively engaged in work not only boosts creativity and the ability to problem-solve, but it also makes the time actually spent on work more efficient," says Max Frenzel, AI Researcher and writer.
Basically, Just Make Choices That Make You Happy and Don't Feel Guilty
Life is full of choices that really suck. We all have to do things we don't want to do, and that will never change, so if you're looking to just have a day for you, choose you.
If you want to make a pie and drink a beer at noon in your leather pants and full face of make up, plant some echinacea, watch your favorite movie, and end the day with a walk... please do so.
These days are about you. If that means running a marathon, do it. If that means writing a novella, do it. If it's listening to podcasts while you learn to crochet, do it. If it means not showering, perfect.
Self-Care shouldn't have a checklist or criteria to determine if you're doing it right or not. It's about caring for you, and only you know what that looks like.