2020 will always be known as the year we stood still. The year we had no distractions, yet many. The year we were forced to take a deep dive into ourselves and forced to ask the difficult questions regarding our lives and happiness. It was hard, challenging, frustrating. Yet as the green shoots of hope begin to accompany a new spring, as should you embrace turning a new leaf and to start self-care in earnest. 

 

What is self-care?

Colouring in a colouring book.
Photo by Customerbox on Unsplash

“Self-care is one’s action is around our physical, emotional, relational, perhaps professional, educational, and, for some people, spiritual well-being that reflects the way that we take care of ourselves on the most fundamental levels.”Good Housekeeping 

Self-care is a uniquely intrinsic experience, one which differs from person to person. What works for me may not work for you, and that’s the best thing about it; it’s about you.

There are lots of different types of self-care, including things you actively do every day to help your mental or physical health i.e. exercising, journaling, meditating. Yet, there is also passive self-care, which doesn’t involve you doing something every day yet simply being present. For example, I have my ‘happy shelf’, a lovely ledge with little trinkets that make me feel nice when I look at them. It’s so little and not something I have to put lots of effort into but still, every day it catches my eye and it brings me into that warm embrace of a comfortable place.  

I didn’t realise how complex yet necessary self-care was. Complex because it’s so different for each individual. My self-care isn’t just a one-off pamper night (although they do help). Self-care always runs so much deeper than that. It’s making sure I get myself out for a walk every day, it’s journaling, getting my thoughts, hopes, worries and grief out on a page. Sometimes, it’s practicing self-compassion. It’s tuning into my internal dialogue to figure out what I need from day-to-day. For you, self-care could mean something different entirely. Building these good habits is something you must experiment with until you find the blend that works for you, but the journey towards that allows you to figure out the things that make you feel good, whilst learning about yourself too. 

As John Dryden said, “We first make our habits, and then our habits make us.”

 

Why is it important to start self-care?

A woman stood on the top of a rooftop overlooking a new city.
Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

An example my friend gave me was to compare yourself to a battery. 

If the battery on your phone isn’t charged, it doesn’t perform as it should. It becomes languid and slow, eventually shutting down and unable to complete simple tasks.

The same goes for your human battery. If you don’t allow yourself time to recharge, you can’t expect yourself to function well day-to-day. Think about the times you’ve had a bad night’s sleep or not eaten well. Maybe a time where a concoction of negative habits has built up within a day. Think about how it physically drains you, with physical fatigue becoming mental and then emotional. By starting self-care, you’ll begin to form a protective barrier against the negative that can await.

It is not impenetrable, but self-care is a vital tool in our fight that we call ‘everyday life’.

 

Although 2020 was a year that none of us will forget, we must realise that we’ll have more speed bumps and bad years ahead.

As we head further into 2021 (which has already brought its fair share of challenges), we realise that the road will not be easy and true, as we bring with us many of the same worries we had last year. It is why it is important to learn the personal lessons it taught us and to start self-care.

By adding self-care techniques alongside self-compassion in your daily routine, you’ll find each day that tiny bit brighter, and with such momentum, sunny days are never too far away.

 

Other articles you’ll like