Self-Care: What it ACTUALLY means.
Updated: Jun 15
Ahhh self-care, we talk about it in the industry from the very beginning of massage school and throughout our massage career. Just the very word self-care invokes visions of bubble baths with a glass of wine and letting yourself indulge on some much deserved ice cream. This past weekend I ended up taking a “self-care” trip over to the coast line. Sitting on the beach sounded like the best form of self-care I could think of! While my trip was relaxing and nice to get away, I noticed I didn’t eat very well, I spent too much money and I didn’t even brush my teeth! (Gross I know, don’t judge) That got me thinking about the true meaning of self-care. Self-care can be a nice get away, but when you get to the real nitty gritty of self-care it isn’t always so nice. Self-care starts with knowing your strengths and your weaknesses. It starts with knowing what you need as a person to be healthy mentally, physically and emotionally.
Getting yourself on a healthy diet, not necessarily one to help lose weight, but one that will nourish your body with the proper fuel needed to get the best function physically. You know eating those healthy greens and those colorful fruits. Making sure you eat healthy takes dedication and some will power. Being able to research what’s healthy and also being able to see what your body feels best with eating. It can be really easy to just say “screw it” and grab a cheese burger from Burger King after a long day of work, trust me I know this all too well myself (the whopper is my weakness!). So preparing meals for the week can be part of making sure you stay on track with your diet.
Working out is almost always big on most self-care lists. Wether it’s yoga, Pilates, or some form of cardio, any form of movement will be good for you. This also can get put on the back burner when your schedule is crammed. Getting the proper physical conditioning though can make or break your career sometimes. Becoming sedentary is one of the big causes of pain. Studies have found that even just walking 40 minutes 3 times a week can not only help improve your heart but your cognitive functions as well! As a massage therapist I feel it is also important to sneak in some weight lifting (it doesn’t have to be heavy weights) to help keep our bodies strong and counteract any imbalances we can acquire with our work.
Meditation. Seems like it would be easy enough right? I have definitely found it difficult to carve out some time to sit and just be. Sitting alone trying to turn off the rapid thoughts that run through our heads can be exhausting in itself. Starting out practicing with just 5 minutes a day can be extremely beneficial! Heading back to research here, studies have shown 20 minutes of mindful meditation can actually activate certain areas of the brain involved with empathy and emotional regulation (the left anterior insula/inferior frontal gyrus in case anyone was wondering) helping with mental clarity and mental health all around.
This is an interesting one that not many think about. Budgeting. Yes I said budgeting. This can be a MAJOR part of self-care that people don’t realize (and starts getting into the harder aspects of self-care). Getting serious about your finances isn’t just the adult thing to do it’s also a very healthy thing to do. This helps eliminate a large amount of stress, and can set you up in case there is ever an emergency. Being able to have a budget helps saying no to impulse purchases a lot easier! While you think you may need the latest electronic gadget, if it isn’t a need or in the budget, it can be a hard no. Along with budgeting comes saving. Setting aside savings isn’t just for people who own their own business. There are many unforeseen incidents that can happen that having a little money tucked away can make it much less of a headache.
Last on my little list is time management. This is where many have difficulty in. Being able to go to bed on time, wake up at a decent hour to get ready for work, and allowing yourself time to day dream. Even being able to day dream can be ok and apart of self care if it is planned for. One of the biggest complaints I hear is “I don’t have time!”. Picking a day of the week to sit down and plan out your whole week can give you insight to where you may have some time. This way you can play with your schedule to fit your needs best. Even planning meals, work out times, meditation, and times to sit and work on your budget can fit neatly into this category. See how that all works out?
Being able to follow through one hundred percent perfectly is not going to happen right away. Also what may be perfect for you now, won’t necessarily be perfect for you in a year. So being able to constantly reevaluate and work on things is key. You will find that more that you practice this, the easier it will become. Your mind, body and soul will thank you for it! And maybe you just might have some time and cash for that bubble bath with a glass of wine.