“Self-care” has become a trending topic as of late, especially in how it relates to mental health. But do we really understand what self-care is, and what exactly does it look like?
The term self-care describes actions one can take to achieve their ideal mental and physical health. Methods of self-care are as unique as the person who practices them. It could be a massage, a meal at a favourite restaurant, or a killer barre class (this is one of the ways I achieve my re-centering). But most importantly, practicing self-care essentially means being attuned to your inner needs, listening to them, and acting on them. Blocking out all of the world’s noise and listening to what your self has to say can be challenging—but the rewards are resplendent.
Understanding the concept and importance of self-care has been a hard fought lesson for me. My role in my relationships is often to be the ‘listener’; I care very deeply about the people in my life, and want to be the best friend/sister/daughter/partner I can be for them. When we discuss the adventures that life has taken us on (for better or for worse), I listen intently and offer my thoughts on how best the other person could take care of their situation, and encourage them to be kind to themselves. However, it wasn’t until recently that I recognized I always forgot to turn my listening ear inwards. While always wanting to do the best I could for others, I consistently forgot the person I should always be the kindest to first: myself.
Once I started listening to my inner voice, I realized she had a lot to say about guiding me towards a happier sense of self. I also learned that I was able to become a much more positive influence for others around me, because I had taken the time necessary to take care of myself. And this lesson alone clarifies that self-care is not selfish. Taking the steps necessary to center, listen, and be kind to yourself actually enables you to show up and be even more present for the people in your life, in a real and impactful way. Use the practice of self-care to create the space and time for you to become more generous and kind to yourself, and others.
The practice of self-care will look and feel different for everyone. And it can be a big, or small action. For example, one of my favourite ‘small-ways’ to practice self-care is to accept a compliment I am happy to receive: instead of deflecting or brushing it off, choose instead to pause, absorb the words, feel them, and know your worth in that moment.
And so, I hope this collection of thoughts has inspired you to want to learn/start/continue to practice the art of self-care. At the end of every barre class that I teach, I ask you to pause and thank yourself for your hard work and your sweat—for honouring your body and mind, for taking time for the important person that is you, because you are so deserving of it. I want for you to take on that same practice in your daily life: to pause, to listen, and to thank yourself for all that you do. Your voice is worth listening to: turn up the volume, and listen to what you have to say—you might be surprised by what you hear.
I want you to start this practice by taking this moment to stop and give yourself a hug—mentally or physically. Give yourself a loving squeeze, because darling: you are so deserving of so much kindness, love, and magic. You are enough. Love your pals, and love yourself.