I used to think that ‘self-care’ means taking the time to do the things that will make you feel good. At the time, the first few things that crossed my mind when I heard about self-care weren’t far from instant gratification: treating yourself to a shopping spree, taking a break for vacation, or booking that long-awaited manicure session.
But the thing is, self-care is not about doing things that will make you feel good. These days, I realize that self-care is about doing things that are good for you; even when initially, they don’t feel good.
It’s not only about ignoring what other people do or think, but also about speaking up and learning how to be assertive instead of being bitter and bottling up resentment.
It’s not only about quitting a job that doesn’t fulfill you, but also about continuously improving your professional skills and commit to things you’ve agreed to do.
It’s not only about taking a break to pack your bag and leave, but also about staying where you are and do what you need to do to sort out your mess before it inflated way out of proportion.
It’s not only about cutting ties with toxic people, but also strengthening your ties with people who have been around for you; as well as finding out how not to be a toxic person yourself.
It’s not only about succumbing to your favorite comfort food, but also nurturing your body with nutritious food that will be good for you. It’s not only about curling up in bed or taking a good rest, but also about moving your body and exercising, so you can feel energized and healthy.
It’s not only about buying new clothes, getting a hair cut, or booking a massage, but also about learning how to accept yourself, how to let go of envy and the need to compare yourself with others.
It’s not only about forgiving others who have hurt you, but also about asking forgiveness from people you’ve hurt in the past.
It’s not only about going out on a shopping spree, but also about learning about how you can manage your money better, pay your debts, and start saving or investing for your future.
It’s not only about reaching out to others and allowing them to take care of you, but also learning how to fill up your cup until it overflows and you can pour love back to the ones you care about.
I realized that taking care of myself is going to feel hard, difficult, and challenging at times. Sometimes it’s about facing my fears instead of running away and seeking comfort. Sometimes it’s about admitting that I am not the person I’d like to be and getting myself back on track instead of allowing myself to deviate further from my truth. Sometimes it’s about forcing myself to hit that yoga mat instead of having a nap.
Initially, they don’t feel good. But I know they are good for me in the long run. Some people may say that apart from the ‘feel-good’ aspect, self-care also needs a dose of tough love.
I think it doesn’t need tough love. It just needs love.
“What would I do if I respect and love myself?”
This is the question I ask myself, again and again, several times a day, to remind me that self-care is not something I should do once in a while. In every mundane thing we do every day, we can always find an opportunity to care for ourselves.
Because not all the things that feel good are actually good.