Let's be honest. Self-care is probably the buzzword of the year so far.
Everywhere you look from magazines to TV shows to podcasts to books to social media posts (like this one), there it is in bright lights: SELF CARE.
And for all the discussion going on, there still seems to be a lack of clarity around it as we are often told what to do instead of tapping in and actually do what feels good to us. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that we try to put it in a nice little box with alluring titles such as “5 Ways to Your Best Self-Care!” or “10 Ways to Dramatically Improve Your Self-Care.” (I’m being dramatic but you get the point.)
But self-care cannot always be summed up in a cute article especially because so much of what we consider to be self-care lies within the physical realm: massages, manicures, pedicures, working out, eating well, sleeping enough, etc. And please do not misread, there is nothing wrong with any of those things. I love everything that I listed and I know they all play a very crucial role in maintaining our health, wellness and just our sanity in general. We cannot and should not give those up. We deserve it.
……...However, for many of us we allow those things to solely define what self-care is. As incredibly important as physical health is, our emotional well-being is just as important if not more, yet we shy away. We fear what is going on within us and so we ignore it or we pretend there’s nothing wrong. We have no idea what it means to have emotional self-care and so there is a missing piece in our regimen.
It’s easy to not have a clue where to begin to start with one’s emotional wellness because although it has been changing over the past couple of decades, as a culture we still put immense emphasis and importance on the external. With the infiltration of social media in nearly every aspect of our lives (and honestly even without it), how we are being perceived is in the forefront of many of our thoughts and actions.
So while our hair is fleeking, our nails are on point, we don’t have bags under our eyes, we are at our ideal weight and we’re surrounded by friends who love us at a VERY hip club, there is still a void. There is still an emptiness that we cannot seem to fill no matter how many appointments we make or gym sessions we go to.
That void can only be filled by having the courage to go within; to actually sit with our shit; to take stock of our lives and take responsibility for ourselves and our own definition of happiness. A massage and facial can certainly get us into a relaxed enough state where we can begin this process, but those cannot always be the end all of what it means to give love to ourselves.
Our internal state needs maintenance just as much as our external state. When we don’t tend to it is when we look up and find that while we may look great physically, we are a complete stranger to ourselves and to our lives.
So where does one begin to start having some emotional self-care? By being vulnerable. That is where we start. And how do we get vulnerable? We get honest with ourselves. We get curious and put the spotlight on ourselves and our patterns. We stop our constant doing: no appointments, no binge watching TV, no over-booking our calendars with plans and activities, no social media….. at least for a small amount of time and we allow ourselves to just be and see what comes up. Instead of tuning out like we are now programmed to do, we start the process of tuning in.
And we learn to connect to our bodies. They are far wiser than the brain yet we do not treat them as such and actively disconnect from them for most of our days (and possibly lives). So much of the healing, peace and clarity we seek can often come from just slowing down and understanding what is going on below our necks. It doesn’t have to be complicated. We can simply breathe. We can see where we are holding our tension and we relax into it. We give space to it and allow the body to deliver messages to us that our thinking brains simply cannot do.
So no, this doesn’t mean we forego our physical self-care; alternatively, we allow that, whatever that looks like to us, to be a vehicle to tap into what’s going on within. We boost our physical state as a means of elevating our internal state. They go together and their success are interdependent on one another.
So today I urge you to take some time to go within and make your self-care regimen a bit more robust and begin to tune in, however that feels comfortable for you. Have you been holding in a good cry? Let it the f**k out. Pretending that you have it all together when really you are on the brink of falling apart? Scream into a pillow. Find a quiet place and journal. Practice some mindfulness (The Calm app is my recommendation) or just sit outside without a phone and look at the world around you. There is much to see and learn about ourselves outside of our screens and our minds if we just allow it.