What Is Self-Care? Here's What It Is—and What It Isn't

August 14, 2020
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After working 13-hour days for more than two months, I reached burn out. I broke down uncontrollably over where I hoped to be in my career by now. I felt inadequate about not committing to a consistent work-out routine because I was so damn tired all the time. long story short, I was in desperate need of self-care. Frankly, I was in desperate need of a break from everything. I put in PTO for two weeks, downloaded several books I promised myself earlier in the year I would read, and booked a stay in the beautiful wine country, Carmel, California. No phone calls. No emails. No work (which was huge for me, since I always take impromptu calls on “vacation”).

With burn-out officially recognized by the World Health Organization as a real diagnosis, practicing self-care has never been more important. The fact self-care has become a $10 billion business speaks volumes. As the industry continues to grow, it is even more important to realize acts of self-care are different for everyone and that, yes, you do need it and deserve to have it. For me, my vacation was necessary, but I knew I needed more than time away to feel like my true self again.

Attending the 2019 Create & Cultivate Self-Care Summit gave me a holistic view of all things self-care that I never considered before. Even more eye-opening was learning about everything self-care isn’t, which put me on a clearer path to better understand how to nurture my body and soul, on my terms.

If you are starting out on your self-care journey, you’ll quickly realize that self-care isn’t any of the following things.

Selfish. It’s self-preservation.

A recent study found that American women feel significant pressure, increasing with age, to take care of those around them at home and at work. When you also throw in the gender pay gap, sexual harassment, and unfair division of labor into the mix, it’s no surprise why women suffer from burn out more than men.

While being nurturing, altruistic, and simply wanting to help isn’t a bad thing, you must take care of yourself first to have the energy to be there for others. When you constantly give away your positive energy without taking time to replenish it, that burning fire deep inside you—the one that’s meant to fuel your desires and ambitions—will slowly start to dwindle away.

 Embrace your right to rest, rejuvenate, and reset. When you feel at your best, you can then give your best to the things, and people, you care about most.

Mindless acts of what we think will make us feel good.

The purpose of self-care is to practice mindful acts that tend to your physical, mental, or emotional well-being. Although self-care comes in different forms, it should not be confused with maladaptive behaviors. There’s a big difference between treating yourself to a day of relaxation at the spa day and dropping cash on everything you want without any regard to your budget.  

Consider the things that make you feel good and continue to make you feel good after you do them. When in doubt, ask yourself, “What brings me calm? How does this fuel me?”

Always extravagant.

I mentioned previously I took a must-get-away-now vacation. That’s what I needed at that moment, but I also needed something more long-lasting to get back to a place where I felt like myself again.

Self-care does not need to be expensive or cost you anything at all. It includes the little things that spark joy and the most basic needs, like a nap. Or 15 out of your day where you choose to do absolutely nothing but breathe. (Yes, that is okay!)

 You know what you need. Give yourself permission to enjoy whatever that is.

Limited to one day out of the week.

Self-care is a lifestyle. You don’t have to wait until Sunday to put on a face-mask or run that bubble bath you’ve been dying to soak in. Incorporating small acts of self-care into your daily life, such as not checking emails after a certain hour, or getting more sleep, are all things that lead to a happier, healthier, you. Breathe life back into your mind, body, and soul by creating space to practice the things you enjoy and love.

About the Author: C&C Insider, Katrina Honer, is a freelance writer covering topics related to careers, wellness, and books. She also works to bridge communication barriers as a localization production manager at a global translation agency. When she’s not sharing her thoughts with the world, you can find her in search of a good bottle of wine (or winery), and a thriller to read (and/or review). Say hi on Instagram @alongcamekatrina or check out her website.

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This story was originally published on August 2, 2019, and has since been updated.

What are some of your best self-care suggestions? Tell us in the comments below!

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