Self-care - what does it mean?
We all have different views of what self-care equates to in our lives. What might work for one person might not work for another and I have started to learn what works best for me. To me, self-care includes both mental and physical health.
I have been active my entire life with dance, swimming, dragon boating etc - but I never thought of it as self-care. I just knew that I loved to be active and be on a team with friends. As I grow older I realize how important these aspects are in life. It keeps me sane to be on a supportive team, participating in a physical activity that I love to do. But there used to be a downside to this for me…
I used to feel guilty if I didn’t join a certain dance class at my studio for one year simply because I had done it for so many years before. GUILTY. I was 12 and feeling guilty about not doing that extra jazz routine - so ultimately I would do it (regardless if I felt overwhelmed or not). My mom one year took me out of competition because my school/other extracurriculars were piling up. I felt so. much. guilt. But, I lived - and school and my other activities probably benefited so much from that 1 year of just regular dance instead of the added pressure of competition.
This is an example I like to look back on as a way to navigate my life and as a form of self-care. I should not feel guilty for not participating in something simply because I did it for so many years before. I should want to be a part of it for myself, for my wellbeing. I should get joy out of it. This took me a long time to figure out because at heart, I am a people pleaser and I wanted to stay committed to every single activity I did at all times. This may seem like a random bit of information but it has been a huge realization in my journey to only participate in “outside of work’ activities that I enjoy instead of participating in them out of a feeling of obligation. This had a huge impact on my mental health. This realization allowed me to become way less stressed and really narrow down what I love to spend my time doing.
But back to what I mentioned at the beginning; everyone’s version of self care is different. There are so many yogi’s, meditation studios, and social media influencers that promote things like this etc and that might not be your route to self-care. Don’t feel bad if you don’t fit in that category. The way it is pushed in everyday life now makes it seem like if you are not a pro at meditating/yoga you are not taking proper care of yourself - that’s just not true!
If you love yoga and meditation, that is amazing and I am happy you found a path for your own self-care. I am not one of those people. I worked with a psychologist who practiced mindful meditation. I did meditation sessions with her to try and learn myself - cause it is HARD and it takes a lot of work to be a master at meditation and being in the present moment. After many sessions and starting to feel like I was getting it, I still didn’t love it. I was not excited to do it. I thought this meant I would never have peace of mind.
But, I started to think… the point of meditation is to be present, enjoy the moment, do not think any thoughts of the future or past, but to just be in the now, focusing on the present. This can be done in other ways other than the traditional method of meditation. I thought of moments when I truly felt like I was really present in the current moment and not thinking of anything else. Those things for me include:
Painting, sketching, listening to my favourite songs while working out, singing alone in the car, dancing out a routine I love so much, putting on a face mask and just pampering myself. These are my forms of meditation. This is when I am 100% present. I know this because I am a person who’s mind is constantly fluttering with ideas, what’s next on the to-do list, what else do I need to do to make this better? When I am engulfed in these activities I just mentioned, I am not thinking about anything but how good I feel in that moment and enjoying what it is I am doing.
So, find your own kind of meditation. Do not feel bad if your version of self-care doesn’t look like the “Instagram world’ of self-care. Let me know if the comments below what helps you to be in the present moment.
There will soon be a blog about my personal daily self-care routine if you are interested in that! Have a splendid week everyone. 😇
See you next week!