Self Care in 2021
New Year, New Me. Raise your hand if you have ever said this (my hand is raised HIGH). I think we all can agree that we are thankful that we have survived 2020 and crossed over into a new year. However, this year I am not focusing on creating a new me, but rather taking care of the same old me.
I have always been a been advocate of “self-care.” However, before 2020, I would have defined that as watching my favorite guilty reality show, face mask on, and ice cream in hand. By the way, I still do this on an embarrassingly regular basis, but I have really striven to take care of myself this past year in more ways than just stuffing my body full of sugar and binging reality television. After experiencing a global pandemic, I can say with confidence that, now more than ever, it is so important to focus on taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.
“My favorite exercise is a cross between a lunge and a crunch…I call it lunch.” I live by this quote in more ways than one. While I have learned the importance of being physically active and the tremendous benefits it has on your physical and mental health (yay endorphins!!), there are other physical aspects of our lives that we can really focus on for self-care. What we fuel our body with is just as important as how we move our body. Now I’m not here to preach about nutrition, because I LOVE the classic pizza and ice cream combo, but when you eat good, you FEEL good. That is not to say that you should not eat those guilty pleasures, because guilty pleasures are part of self-care, but be mindful and listen to your body about what makes you feel best after a meal.
Oh, and a friendly PSA: GET SOME SLEEP! Most adults do not get enough sleep, which leaves us completely drained and lagging throughout the day. I am the GUILTIEST of doing this. No one can be their best selves if they are running off an empty tank and a cup of coffee. I challenge you to take the time to better yourself; do the face mask, sit in a bubble bath, take a nap (my favorite part of the day), and get the recommended amount of sleep each night. This may mean adjusting your alcohol and caffeine intake, setting a regular sleep schedule, cutting off access to electronics hours before bed. Consistency matters. Just remember, this looks different for everyone so do what makes YOU feel the best!
I can say that this pandemic has thoroughly made me question every inch of my sanity. I have been isolated, beat down, cried (A LOT), and had the energy seemingly sucked out of me. With my mental health questionable, I tried everything to make it better. Meditation, yoga, turning off my phone -- the works honestly. What I realized is that, while these are hailed by professionals as being “the best,” they simply just stressed me out even more.
None of this brought me peace of mind or relaxation. During mediation, I could only think about my to-do lists (and maybe trying to not doze off due to my horrendous sleep schedule). In yoga I was more worried about the way I looked doing it rather than reaping any benefits, and turning off my phone just filled my millennial brain with more anxiety.
What I have come to realize is that the things that bring me peace are walks outside, reading a good book, listening to my favorite Spotify playlists, and even watching Southern Charm (if you know, you know). Maybe one day I will have a fascination with yoga, but until then I am going to focus on the things that truly bring me happiness. I challenge you to reevaluate the way you are spending your time, identify what you truly love, and get rid of the practices that are not serving you to the fullest.
Emotional self-care is critical to our well-being. We are our own worst critic and that can take a severe toll on our emotional well-being. Remember the saying, “Laughter is the best medicine”? This is so cliché’, but it also holds so much truth. Laughter has been proven to have a multitude of mental and emotional perks (psst...it also has physical benefits as well!), but it also it encourages you to spend more time with the people you love most and who bring you joy.
It is important to practice emotional self-care and spark joy within daily. Recognize how you speak to yourself and treat yourself with kindness. Practice gratitude. Set boundaries. Allow yourself to make mistakes and treat yourself with compassion. We are human, we are going to make mistakes! Just remember, life is short! Embrace a life you love that is full of joy and love for yourself, as well as for others.
Last, I want everyone to takeaway that Self Care= Self LOVE. Self-care is not a one size fits all strategy, but with 2021 in full swing, it is a great opportunity to take charge of your well-being or, at the very least, start thinking about it more. The more we nurture ourselves and own needs, the more we can give back to others and practices that we are passionate about.