In an effort to implement self-care, I drew a bubble bath. I lit candles. I ate a decadent meal. I did skincare and I even read a few positive affirmations. According to the internet, these are all methods for how one should try to feel better, and in truth, doing all of these things for myself did feel nice. However, at the end of it all, I still felt disgruntled.
I couldn’t bathe away my anxious thoughts, or eat away my problems, and while my skin looked great, nothing really changed about my situation. So, as I laid down for bed, I found that my mind still swirled back into that same overwhelmed state.
I love doing practices like the ones mentioned above occasionally because they help me remember that my body is a temple. However, I’ve learned that real transformative self-care doesn’t always have so many frills. In fact, sometimes it can be downright uncomfortable.
This year, for me, self-care has meant voyaging down into the depths of my inner world and asking myself the hard-hitting questions that I usually try to avoid. Moments of introspection like this feel tough initially, but they ultimately help me to understand myself so much more and to feel less chaotic on the inside.
The first question I explored was my level of effort and dedication to things that matter to me. I asked myself if I was really doing all of the work that I could to get to where I want to go. By nature I consider myself to be a pretty hard worker, but I’d be lying if I said that there were not certain areas of my life that were lacking.
My health journey is an example of one. When I first found out that I had sensitivities to gluten and dairy, I made it my goal to clean up my eating habits. However, I had a hard time passing up the opportunity to indulge in my favorite treats. Eventually, my indulgence caught up with me when I became physically ill.
The truth is that I hadn’t been doing all of the things I should have been doing to stay healthy, and my dietary restrictions were a lot more serious than I thought. So, I decided to put a plan into action to get better, and after two months of staying committed to my plan, my illness dissipated. I felt better internally and mentally, and I had unintentionally lost 25 pounds. The process wasn’t easy, but the peace of mind and the sense of confidence I had later was worth it.
The second question I tackled had to do with my Circle; that is, the people I surround myself with. The reality of growing up and becoming an adult is that not everyone is meant to stay with you. While some friendships are forever, some are just meant to teach you, and it can be difficult to discern which is which.
I asked myself if there were any people around me I should let go of because we couldn’t grow together anymore. It’s natural to grow apart from others as you find your way and they find theirs, and moving away from the wrong person can shift everything for you. Similarly, I also asked myself if there were any relationships that I should spend more time nurturing. Friendships should bring a sense of comfort, clarity, and peace of mind. If yours aren’t doing that, then it may be time to re-evaluate who you are choosing to invest in.
As a follow-up to the second question, the third question I asked was in examination of myself. I had to ask what my own faults were in different situations and make peace with the ways that I was the one who was in the wrong. Sometimes our refusal to accept when we are wrong holds us back and keeps us feeling dissatisfied.
The fourth question I asked was whether or not I was taking full accountability for everything that was mine. I believe that this is ultimately what self-care is about—taking accountability for yourself mentally, emotionally, relationally, and physically. It is a holistic approach that goes beyond warm bath water, ambient soundscapes, and treats. To me, self-care is about being unafraid to get down into the dirt and pull up all the weeds.
So incorporate these questions into your self-care practice:
- Am I doing all the work I need to do to get to where I want to go?
- Do I need to release anyone who can’t grow with me anymore?
- What faults of my own do I need to examine and make peace with?
- Am I taking accountability for everything that is mine?
To me, self-care is about being unafraid to get down into the dirt and pull up all the weeds.