We’re living in an exciting time where self-care is getting some much needed time in the spotlight. Unfortunately, plenty of brands and companies are co-opting it to help sell expensive skincare products and kombucha (which, I won’t argue, is delicious – change my mind.)
While self-care is super important, it can get confusing trying to understand what it truly entails beyond the insta-worthy vignettes of peach bubble-baths and curated beachside excursions. While some aspects of self-care can be glamorous and indulgent, others can be confronting and uncomfortable. However, they’re all necessary to keep you on a path towards growth and self-improvement.
Check out our six steps below to find out how you can become a boss at smart self-care (and yes, some of the things you can still do in a hydrating face mask) …
Step 1. Make time to recharge.
Ok, let’s start with the Instagram-friendly one. We all live busy and stressful lives, where demands are being hurled at us all day, every day. Whilst we can tell ourselves we run fine on caffeine and anxiety (spoiler: we don’t) it’s important to give our minds and bodies the chance to relax and unwind. That might mean time spent away from a screen, like a walk in nature or reading a good book. A daily meditation practice is also great in giving your mind and body a few minutes to centre and revitalise.
Step 2: Cultivate healthy relationships.
Our relationships give our lives pleasure and purpose, but in order for them to flourish, we need to make time for them. True and meaningful relationships are ones that go beyond the superficial, which sometimes means having to have tough conversations and being vulnerable. It also means being there to support friends and fam when they aren’t having the best time of it. Working on your communication is key so that you can assertively and compassionately state what you want and need out of your relationships.
Step 3: Do good stuff for your body.
As much as we might wish this step involved eating limitless crinkle-cut chips and sitting unmoving in front of Netflix for 6+ hours, alas no. It’s that old classic, EAT👏HEALTHY👏EXERCISE👏SLEEP. It’s a damn cliché, but that’s because it works. Your body needs nutrients, movement and sleep to be able to operate at its best. The most helpful advice I can offer here is to try and develop healthy habits around food, fitness and sleep – the more automatic these behaviours become, the easier they are to maintain, and the more you’ll recognise the benefits.
Step 4: Learn how to say “No”.
Boundaries are important, and we need to get better at not only recognising when things become too much but being brave and assertive enough to say so. You’re not taking care of yourself when you’re spreading yourself too thin and taking on more than you can manage. Learn how to get comfortable with confrontation (when necessary) and understand that sometimes saying “no” might tick people off and you can’t always help that.
Step 5: Get grateful.
Gratitude practices are awesome. They give you the chance to appreciate and acknowledge all that you’ve done, all that you have, and all that you are. When you spend a few moments of each day focusing on things you’re grateful for, you recognise how truly rich your life is, bursting with accomplishments, privileges, learnings and experiences – things that can often get taken for granted. Try to take some time out every day and write down 5 things you’re grateful for – yes, even on crappy days, when it’s even more important.
Step 6: Fine tune your self talk.
Do you listen to the way you talk to yourself? All the face-masks and bath bombs in the world won’t help you if the dialogue in your head is still one of judgement and criticism. The best way to take good care of yourself is to check your self-talk – is it kind? is it helpful? is it necessary? Sometimes it’s easier to analyse your thoughts as if they were spoken out loud & directed at someone you care deeply about. Bet you wouldn’t stand for some of that. So don’t talk to yourself that way unless you want to continue cultivating a poor self-image.
Getting smart at self-care can be a process. It won’t happen overnight. It’s something you cultivate daily and develop over a lifetime.