This is a guest blog, by the lovely Victoria Faling. Read more about her at the bottom of this post!
Self-Care. That seems like something we all should love to do, right? Many of us completely neglect it, though, for many reasons. Maybe we think we’re too busy or we don’t deserve it. Maybe we are preoccupied taking care of others (significant other, family, friends, even strangers) or we haven’t found a routine that we actually enjoy and find to be caring.
Self-care encompasses a range of things. It means knowing your boundaries so you don’t wear yourself thin. It means acknowledging your wants and needs so that you can take care of yourself. It means doing activities that recharge you, make you feel good, and give you space to breathe. As someone with a chronic illness, self-care has become an integral part of my healing journey.
I used to suck at self-care (and I won’t say I’m perfect at it now). I didn’t feel like I deserved it, I didn’t like the activities most people think of for self-care, and I didn’t “have time” for it. Once I got sick, I realized how important self-care is and how crucial it was for me to find my version of it. Now, if I don’t take time to complete my self-care routine, it not only affects my mood but it also affects my healing process. So, if you’re anything like me, let me walk you through how to learn to love self-care!
I’ll be honest, sometimes self-care involves addressing issues you don’t want to touch (like learning to love and respect yourself) or trying things you hate (maybe taking baths or going for walks), but it doesn’t have to and your self-care routine will likely morph over time. I used to think that self-care meant meditating regularly and doing yoga. Two things I really don’t care for. But, I think of finding your self-care routine similar to working out. As a personal trainer, I know not everyone likes to do the same type of workout and part of my job was to tailor routines to what people actually like and will do. Some people HATE running or lifting weights, but guess what? You don’t have to do those activities to be healthy if you don’t want to! Same goes for self-care. There are so many other options and you’re better off finding an activity you enjoy so that you’ll stick with it.
Don’t feel like you have to go to a yoga class every night or take time to read a book daily to count it as self-care. If you hate it, it won’t be very self-caring now will it? It won’t help you or make you feel good. For me, taking a relaxing bath or sauna, spending time experimenting in the kitchen, and even watching Netflix are my versions of self-care. They allow me to relax, they touch into my creative side, and they are enjoyable. They feed my soul and recharge my batteries.
Self-care for you may be meeting up with your friends every Saturday morning for a hike or it may be taking time to visit your local library once a week. The activities (or lack thereof) that you choose should be enjoyable and not something you feel forced to do because it’s “supposed to be good for you.” Don’t discount options for self-care that others may consider obligations or social time, though, and don’t discount self-care options without trying them first.
I used to HATE baths. I absolutely could not stand them. They felt like a waste of time and uncomfortable to me. Once I got sick with Lyme disease, I found baths helped me detox and I wanted to figure out how to incorporate them more into my life. I discovered that lighting incense, adding crystals to the water, and watching a Netflix show on my laptop (don’t worry, the laptop is set up on a stool away from the tub) allowed me to enjoy them more. I don’t force myself to take a bath every day, I take them when I want, which also helps me enjoy them and not make them feel like a chore. Now, I sometimes even crave them as a form of self-care.
Another key to learning to love self-care is mindset. I think for many, myself included, I never believed I deserved it- whether that was due to self-love issues or feeling like other tasks or people were more important. But let me tell you something, if you don’t take care of yourself first, you can’t be there to take care of others. It took a long time for me to acknowledge that I deserved to “treat” myself and take care of myself. And a lot of it was just plain “fake it ‘til you make it” practice! I began to carve out a little time each week and schedule in something I felt was good self-care. I’d make myself do it, but I’d also take the time to try and make it enjoyable (like I do with baths). I changed my mindset about the activity and I talked to myself about how and why this self-care act was important. For example, maybe you think of going for walks as an annoying exercise that you feel obligated to do. Well, why don’t you think about it as an activity you GET to do and that you DESERVE. You deserve to experience the sunshine and fresh air. You get to have 30 minutes of space to listen to your favorite music or not think about anything at all. And you don’t have to go far if you don’t want to, maybe you’ll get to the end of the driveway and just sit there because that is what your body wants and needs. And that is totally okay!
Changing your mindset can be hard, which is why I suggest starting by picking activities you already enjoy and scheduling them into your day or week. Prioritize yourself so that you can heal, grow, and in turn be there for others. Then branch out and try other self-care routines to find new ways to support yourself.
Self-care isn’t about dragging yourself to do something you dislike, it’s about finding enjoyable acts that recharge your batteries and make you feel whole.
Hi, I'm Victoria! I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease in 2012. Ever since, I've been on a mission to find healing in all parts of my life. I love food and fitness, so I work hard to develop recipes that fit a healing diet and find movements that restore the body.