Creating Your Own Definition Of Self-Care

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With all the information out there about self-care, it can be challenging to find what’s right for you. Ultimately it comes down to your individual needs. It’s important to create a definition of self-care which supports you best.

Self-care is a tool for achieving optimal levels of wellness. This means different things for different people. For some, self-care means setting boundaries with work and relationships. For others, it means pushing themselves to take their medication and see a therapist when they’re in a depressive cycle. We each have our own paths in life, and the ways we practice self-care are a unique reflection of how we choose to love ourselves.

Self-care isn’t always pretty. As you commit to your own healing and do what you need to do to stay well, sometimes it’s messy and uncomfortable. That is okay. It doesn’t mean you are doing self-care wrong.

Self-care is a very personal journey on the path of wellness and wholeness. It’s what we reach for when we are out of balance, when we are struggling, or when it’s all good and we want to maintain that. Sometimes self-care is about focusing on the work we need to do on ourselves in order to grow. Creating your own definition of self-care is empowering. You get to explore and define what is most important to your health and well-being. What is your optimal level of wellness? How do you want to feel and function in your day-to-day life? What does healing look like to you?

The language we use to define self-care is vital to having more inclusive and sensitive conversations about health, wellness, and how we take care of ourselves and each other. Self-care is kindness. Gentleness. Giving yourself what you wish to receive. Self-care is self-love. Self-care is also about authenticity. Being honest. Getting real. Checking ourselves. Witnessing. Creating our own definitions of self-care allows us to get clearer insight into the value of caring for ourselves, and to be actively engaged in the journey of our lives.

There is no one definition of self-care.
How we practice self-care may change and expand over time as our needs change. Only we can decide for ourselves what we need at any given moment and take the steps to actualize that.

Here are some things to reflect on as you create your own self-care definition:

What do you need?
Figure out your non-negotiable bottom-line. What are your basic needs? This includes your needs across the many dimensions of wellness - physical, financial, mental, emotional, spiritual, creative, sexual. Knowing yourself and cultivating self-awareness are key to understanding how to best care for yourself. Are you the kind of person who has to eat breakfast every morning? Is grounding and centering yourself before you leave the house a must? Is it essential for you to make space for sexual expression and sexual intimacy? Explore what your needs are and ways for you to meet them on a regular basis.

What’s your practice?
Do you currently have a self-care practice? Maybe you have a morning routine which nourishes you, or a set of rituals, or a hobby which settles your spirit. Look closely at the things you’ve been doing for a long time which bring you joy and peace. If you don’t have these things currently in your life, how can you bring that in? Remember that practicing self-care doesn’t have to require material access. You have the inner resource and tools to create a self-care practice which supports and sustains you.

How do you cope?
How we cope with stressors in life determines our level of wellness. Part of self-care is doing what we need to do in order to be well. What do your coping skills look like? What are your patterns around coping? Are there past hurts and traumas which have an unhealthy impact on your ability to cope? Do you tend to white-knuckle through challenging times rather than ask for help? Reflecting on your coping style and habits is a great way to get insight into where you need to do some personal work.

Does your self-care need to change?
We all go through cycles, and our needs may shift over time according to the season we’re in. Maybe you’re moving into a transitional period - changing jobs, homes, relationships. Maybe you’re moving out of a season of planning into a season of hustle. Reflect on your current season and how your needs have changed. How can you adjust your self-care to better meet your needs?

When is self-care not enough?
Sometimes we need more support than our self-care provides. If you struggle with mental illness or experience mental health issues, it’s essential that you get clear about when you need more help. While practicing regular self-care can be an important part of managing symptoms, it’s necessary to know your limits and identify when to reach out. Relaxing on the couch with Netflix can be a helpful self-care tool, but if you haven’t gotten off the couch in a week it’s time to take action. Your self-care can include a plan of action for times of crisis. Self-care should be part of your overall health care. Make sure that you’re using self-care as a supplement rather than a replacement.

What’s your definition of self-care?

For some guidance around creating a self-care plan, check out this post.
If you need support for creating your own definition of self-care and developing your self-care practice, I look forward to connecting over a session.

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Kyana Brindle