If bubblebaths and candlelight for self-care are not your thing but you still want to do something to recharge yourself, that’s totally fine. You’re not alone.
It can be confusing to know what self-care is and what it isn’t. Usually when we’re stressed out and can’t think straight we default to the usual ideas like bubblebaths and candlelight.
The good news is self-care is completely, 100% an individual choice. There’s no right or wrong way to do it.
What kinds of things are considered self-care?
Choices can be overwhelming. So many ideas.
Books are full of them. Coaches and counsellors encourage different methods. There are the usual, textbook ideas: walk in the woods, have a nice dinner, light incense, meditate, have tea, read a book, sit by the sea.
But, under the right circumstances, mowing the lawn, building a sandcastle or snowman, taking apart the vacuum cleaner and fixing it all can be self-care.
There really is no right or wrong here. No limitations.
Self-care can mean anything. Anything. Whatever comes up when you check in with yourself, no matter how silly it may sound, is completely okay. Listen to yourself without judgement.
If going outside and whirling in a circle in the middle of the pile of leaves in your yard, arms outstretched, and singing at the top of your lungs feels like self-care, do that.
If cleaning out a corner of the basement feels rejuvenating, do that.
If booking a flight to see your cousin overseas is feasible and feels like self-care, do that.
Toss aside what you think you should be doing toward self-care and check in with your gut feeling, intuition, inner wisdom.
Listen for the inner YES. As long as it’s not harming anyone, including yourself, do that.
What if a type of self-care doesn’t feel right anymore?
Our ideas of self-care can change moment to moment.
It’s important not to base your self-care on what you’ve done in the past. All that matters for your self-care and well-being right now is what feels replenishing right now.
One day for my self-care, I’d planned to take an impromptu overnight retreat to a little cabin on the beach on a different part of our island. As I was excitedly getting ready to go, a phone call came in about a friend who had been admitted to hospital in critical condition.
My trip no longer felt like self-care, it felt overwhelming. In an instant, I went from needing my retreat getaway to needing to cocoon on my couch in a giant, fluffy robe with hot tea. Self-care needs can change any time, sometimes in a heartbeat.
Only you can know in this moment what feels the most nurturing for you. Yet, it can still be a challenge coming up with the perfect self-care.
How do you know if it’s really self-care at all?
The benchmark is this: if it feels like a heavy chore instead of a restorative, comforting practice, it defeats the whole purpose of self-care.
Only you can know.
If it isn’t bubblebaths and candlelight, that’s just fine. It can be anything your heart desires.
The important thing is that you just do it.
Enjoy your self-care.