As we continue to explore how to develop skills that cultivate a resilient spirit, we turn our attention this month to a popular buzzword you may even be a little weary of- self-care! 

(Just joining us or looking to review previous “Cultivating Resilience” posts? See here, here, here!).

Self-care is a concept that we hear lots about in terms of our mental wellbeing, but how many of us can really cite what effective self-care is, or why it matters in terms of our resilience? It may seem like a trendy reason to “treat yo self”, but where do you draw the line between self-centered behaviors and meaningful work that really sustains and rebuilds you?

Self-Care: Practicing Wellness

Self-care is the act of focusing our thoughts and behaviors onto things that contribute to our own wellbeing. It’s tending to the basic building blocks of mental health. Self-care can be found in a range of different areas of our life- social, physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and so on.  For example, at times we may find ourselves in need of some social self-care- checking in with friends or family, serving others, or attending a meaningful event in spite of your never ending to-do list. Other times, we may need to turn our attention to physical self-care- making effort and time to reboot and get serious about sleep, focusing on adequate hydration and nutrition, or investing time in discovering movement your body enjoys. How can you imagine yourself addressing self-care needs in areas of emotional, spiritual, or intellectual wellbeing? As you can see, self-care can take many forms and look different depending on the individual and the season of life you find yourself in.

Don’t know where to start?

I would recommend downloading a mindfulness app like Calm or Headspace, or making a goal to practice mindfulness through activities like journaling, yoga, or other spiritual practices like prayer. Mindfulness practice is something that doesn’t have to be involved or picture perfect, and the benefits are plentiful! Mindfulness has been shown to help slow down our reactions and build feelings of peace and habits of rest into our life.

Myths of Self-Care

Now that we’ve talked about what self-care is, let’s talk about a few things that self-care is not! Self-care is not selfish. It’s not frivolous. It’s not something that has to be expensive or time consuming. Self-care is also not a one-and-done kind of thing! The goal with self-care is to build it into your routine so that you are regularly filling your bucket.

Self-Care and Resilience

The tie between self-care and resilience is that through the regular and effective practice of caring for yourself, you are giving yourself resources to manage stress. We all probably can think of friends or loved ones who deal with stress by numbing out or turning to maladaptive coping (drugs and other risky behaviors). You may even recognize those tendencies in yourself! However, when we are regularly practicing self-care, we go into stress better equipped to handle what comes our way. When we practice effective self-care, we reserve within ourselves personal wellsprings of resilience!

Give Yourself Permission

While you consider your own approach to self-care, remember the fundamental truth that you are worthy of care. Give yourself permission to explore areas of self-care and experiment with what fills you up and leaves you renewed. You are worth the effort to take care of!