The Importance of Practicing Self-Care

What is self-care?

Well, I figured there’s no better way to begin by questioning the definition of something than by turning to our trusty friend, the online Oxford dictionary.

Self-care is defined as “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” It is further defined as “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”

I literally chuckled when I read this second definition, “protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”

As I write this, it’s the last few days of 2021 and in my humble opinion, to say that self-care should be playing a large role in all of our lives right now is an understatement. We’re coming up on almost two years of emotional turmoil, uncertainty, fear, isolation, missed opportunities, and missed loved ones all as a result of a pandemic that has resulted in over 5 million deaths worldwide and over 800k in the US alone. 

For many of us, this is the first, and hopefully only, the time we will experience a crisis like this in our lives. While each person’s situation is different and I won’t pretend to know the loss or joys that so many have individually experienced, I do believe the concept of self-care is relevant to all.

For me, I think I unintentionally decided to take on self-care wholeheartedly this year. I’m a type-A person, I make plans, I plot spreadsheets, I like to have control. The last two years have taught me humility as I have tried to plan and realized how little control I actually have. Self-care is one thing that I have been able to control. 

Self-care can look like a lot of different things. It doesn’t just mean getting a massage, soaking in the tub, or Treat Yo Self Days. It looks different for everyone. Here are a few ways I’ve exercised self-care in 2021:

  • Coaching. I’ve been working with an amazing coach, Leah Roe, since July 2020, but this year I decided to dive headfirst into coaching and began my own Co-Active Training Institute coaching training and bringing on my first clients. In 2022, I’ll begin certification and am looking forward to continuing to help small business owners as they navigate the choppy waters of entrepreneurship.
  • Gardening. This summer my husband, and I started a small garden. We are both novice gardeners, so it was a bit of exploration to say the least. However, this little patch of dirt that is about 30 sq ft, quickly became my happy place. I’d listen to audiobooks and prune my little heart away. Something about using my hands instead of a screen to help something grow was so novel and exciting to me.
  • Long Walks. About this time last year, I started going on a daily walk. Even though I live in Wisconsin and it’s about 10 degrees out some days, I’d bundle up in my snow pants and go for a walk. And it also quickly became a daily joy for me. So I’ve continued walking most days throughout this year either listening to an audiobook or podcast or sometimes just my own thoughts and I’ve worked out a lot of answers to questions I’ve had on these walks.
  • Invisalign. I spent six years in braces from ages 10 to 16, but have had a bottom tooth out of line due to the fact I haven’t worn my retainer in almost 20 years. Don’t judge. I doubt you did either! So I spent another three months wearing a clear retainer 24-hours a day to fix it. And yes, now I still get to wear a retainer at night again (facepalm).
  • Hair & Skincare. I got a new hairstylist who has been helping me take better care of my hair and have tried no less than three different skincare routines this year to finally land on the one I’m going to stick with for a while. If you’re curious, I’ve landed on this daily cleanser, this toner, this eye cream, this vitamin C, this daily moisturizer, and this night cream. Thank you for your expert guidance, Melissa 😉
  • Diet & Exercise. I committed to a diet, exercise, and meal prep plan for the first time in my life with Stasia Patwell’s School of Thot program. Five years ago, I turned 30 and began Brainchild Studios. I’ve always been quite lucky as my metabolism has been pretty kind to me. However, in 2016, it felt like it just quit. The moral of this story is that during this period of time when I have felt very little control, this commitment to my body was a saving grace.
  • Set Boundaries. We love our families, however, with two sets of divorced parents all living within 45-minutes of us, the holidays tend to be a bit stressful. This year, I decided I needed to getaway. Call it selfish, call it whatever you’d like, but that’s what I needed. So we had conversations with our families, re-aligned expectations and dates so we could still see them, but did it on our terms. It was so necessary. Setting boundaries over the holidays is going to turn into my annual anthem moving forward.

A few questions for reflection:

  • Which, if any of these, resonate with you? 
  • What are your favorite forms of self-care? 
  • What are the major stressors in your life? 
  • What can you do about them? 
  • What elements can you control? 
  • What elements can’t you control? 
  • If you were to focus your attention on one thing to care for yourself right now, what would it be?
  • How would you measure success?

Keep in mind that self-care can include your head, heart, soul, and body and a combination of all of the above. Know that your journey is unique to you and different than anyone else’s. I wish you lots of love and self-care and hope that the years to come will be a bit kinder and more gentle on everyone.