Features, Health, Opinion

A Guide to Self-Care

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self-care

/sɛlfˈkɛː/

noun

  • the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.

Self-care looks different for everyone, but there is one common practice we can implement into our daily lives that will ensure we can go forward with a more positive sense of well-being. Self-care is often easier said than done. When we get caught up on the different definitions and understandings of what an ideal self-care routine should look like, we often forget that the end goal of self-care is being happy. Finding what truly makes you happy can feel like a never-ending quest in life for us all, but that’s why I’m here to share my self-care saviours with you.

Living in the digital era, we must be mindful of where or who we take advice from. We all aspire to be more like our favourite influencers, who are off partying away their troubles on an island or perking themselves up on a costly shopping spree. But what if we can’t afford to jet off to an island or spend thousands on retail therapy? Be careful you don’t fall into the trap of believing you need luxurious holidays or clothes to be content. I used to always think that self-care meant taking a day off from work or study, going for a relaxing (and expensive) spa session, treating myself to all the comfort foods we usually don’t allow ourselves, and all that jazz. Achieving happiness can be easier and less expensive than any of those things.

Others find peace in taking care of loved ones and making sure they are okay, so much so that they often overlook their own happiness, and in that process, they, without knowing, continue to overlook themselves repeatedly – which can have damaging consequences. After living away from home for nearly four months, I’ve realized that you can’t please everyone. In doing what is best for you (in my case, studying abroad), you might upset loved ones who will miss or worry about you. In the end, your own well-being should be your top priority, and it should not matter if others agree with that or not. You do not need permission from anyone else to be happy. It’s the small things you do for yourself that count. Perhaps that means going for a relaxing walk alone, not saying “yes” when you want to say “no,” a night of facemasks and red wine, yoga or meditation, listening to your favourite podcast, quitting your job, or even moving country. The list is endless, and no action is too big or small if it makes you genuinely happy.

By understanding that before people can accept you, you must accept yourself wholeheartedly – flaws and imperfections included. Remind yourself that people come and go like the seasons, and while having people we love around us can enrich our lives, we cannot solely depend on others to fulfil our happiness or well-being for us. We are responsible for our own happiness.

For me, the true essence of self-care is letting go, learning to forgive myself for past mistakes, and giving myself a break. Reminding myself that I am a good person and that the path that I am on makes me happy is my go-to self-care lifehack. At the end of the day, you are the only person that will be with you morning, day, and night for the rest of your life. Treat your mind as you would treat a friend, have some fun getting to know yourself, and learn what ignites your happiness.

Be there for yourself, treat yourself as you would treat a loved one, celebrate the big and small wins, and when life gets hard take refuge in the things, people, and places that make you happy. The final – and possibly most important advice – is to actually take the time to implement all of those things into your daily routine. This self-care structure will help you go forward with a mentality that will allow you to begin living your life, unapologetically, for you. Remember, the word “self-care” begins with “self”. Start with you and what brings you joy. The rest will take care of itself.

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