What actually is self-care?

February 04, 2020

What actually is self-care?

It's no secret that at Retreat Yourself we love to remind people of the importance of quality me time. One of our favourite sayings is "you can't pour from an empty cup" and we truly believe in the importance in taking the time just for ourselves, to refill our cups. 

If you had unboxed our Summer Box you have come across the vibrant and colourful booklet, Me Time by Jessica Sanders.

Jessica is an author, advocate and social worker from Melbourne, Australia who is dedicated to empowering others with the tools they need to strengthen the relationship they hold with themselves and their bodies.

Her commitment to cheerleading others can be seen in the values of her social enterprise, Re-shape. Jessica founded Re-shape with the primary goal of nurturing a positive body image in young people by celebrating them for their abilities, brains and personalities above all else.

Me Time addresses those who may have outgrown picture books, but who still need to receive these essential messages of self-love, self-acceptance and self-care.

What actually is self-care?

The term ‘self-care’ seems to be everywhere right now. It's widely used in advertising, where the term is often coupled with the idea of indulgence or pampering.

And while self-care can look like wearing a face mask in the tub, it's also so much more than that. Self-care can be crushing it at the gym one day and spending the whole day in your pyjamas the next. Self-care can be volunteering in your local community. Self-care can be setting healthy boundaries. Self-care can be simply getting enough sleep.

Ultimately, self-care is tuning in to your mind, body and spirit, and respecting what you find there. Self-care can be viewed differently, depending on your standpoint. For me, I see self-care as a practice, a holistic routine that incorporates all parts of the self. For this reason, I categorise self-care into four equal parts: care of the physical, mental, future and spiritual self. Envisaging self-care in this way treats it holistically, and also makes it easier to identify which part of yourself needs your focus. The four parts of the self are linked of course. When you care for one, the impact is felt by all at different levels.

The practice of self-care is contagious: one step in the right direction will lead to more. Committing to a self-care practice has the real potential to make you happier, healthier and more closely aligned with the life you want to lead.

Self-care is respecting your physical self

Our bodies are our most valuable resource. They enable us to experience all the beautiful things that life has to offer. Your body is your one true home. You don’t get another, so it’s essential to take care of it. When you fill your body with nutritious food, hydrate it and move it regularly, it will thank you! However, everyone and every body is different, and it’s really important to find out what works for you. And let’s face it: sometimes what your body really wants is a doughnut. So you should give it a doughnut! In other words, find what feels good for you and treat your body like the magical vehicle it is.

Self-care is nurturing your mental self

The key to caring for the mental self is knowing when we need support from others, or from the experts. The mind is complex and asking for help is sometimes necessary to make sense of our experiences. Asking for help is an essential skill, and something most of us need to get a little better at. Relationships are also a big part of keeping the mental self healthy, safe and happy. We are creatures of community and the single biggest determinant of our wellbeing is holding healthy relationships. Nurturing your relationships and building strong bonds is one of the best things you can do to take care of your mental self.

Self-care is investing in your future self

Have you ever said, ‘I’ll deal with that later’ or ‘That’s for future me to deal with?’ I know I have! Turns out that ‘future me’ is still me – the only difference is that ‘future me’ has been sabotaged ... by me. When practising your self-care keep this scenario in mind. You must try to dance the line between being present and caring for your immediate needs and acting in ways that benefit your future self. Investing in your future self is the smartest decision you will ever make. Like any good investment, it requires your time and tapping into your wisdom to make informed decisions. After a little while you will begin to see returns on your investment. This might look like healthier relationships, a stable bank account or having more energy to do the things you love.

Self-care is honouring your spiritual self

Spirituality means different things to different people. Many people connect to their spiritual self through religion, others do so by connecting with nature. There is no right answer, of course. Spirituality is deeply personal, and your spirituality can be as unique as you are. To nurture the spiritual self, it is important to create the time and space to connect with something bigger than yourself. This time is sacred, and it’s just for you.

If you don't identify as spiritual, here are some helpful ways to identify this part of the self:

  • that part of you that finds the beauty in nature
  • that feeling of satisfied fullness after a night of dancing
  • that warm glowing feeling that comes from spending time with people who love you
  • knowing that you are just a small part of something bigger
  • that inner drive to search for meaning
  • that sense of joy that comes when you do what is meaningful to you

I think we can all recognise this part of ourselves that isn’t just a brain and a body. It’s something so much more wonderful than that. This part of ourselves is our spiritual self and it deserves as much love and care as all the other parts.

If you would like to find a complete copy of Me Time, it's available where all good books are sold (we have spied them on the shelves of Kmart and Big W) and also online. 



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