Let me start out by saying I have nothing against bubble baths! If you find relaxation in the warmth of a bathtub, with or without the bubbles and scented candles, more power to you. My objection is not so much with the bubble baths, but with how the discussion around self-care stops at the level of luxurious pampering activities. Like who has the funds to spend a weekend at the spa every time you feel stressed out? There is way more to self-care than just bubble baths and spa visits.
Okay, let’s expand the discussion. Taking a holistic approach to self-care, how can we take care of our body, mind, heart and spirit? What does self-care even mean?
Self-care can be seen as a practice to take an active role in promoting our health, wellness and happiness. Doing things to be kind to yourself and finding ways to replenish and nourish the soul. A lot of the time a person’s individual resources are spent on taking care of family, children, parents, neighbors, friends, pets, everyone but yourself! You are at the bottom of the list and often there is nothing left when it’s your turn. Draining your battery for everyone else leaves the battery empty when it comes to your own health and happiness.
Some people think self-care is the same as selfishness but it is actually the opposite. If you are compassionate towards yourself you will have more compassion to share with others. You will feel less anger and frustration and have more patience and calm to put out into the world. It can even help boost your immune system, by placing the body into a restful rejuvenating state rather than breaking down the body with stress. So take the time! You are worthy of self-care.
Different people find different types of self-care rejuvenating and replenishing. Listen to your body and mind, there is no point practicing a self-care strategy just because it is the trendy thing to do. I had a friend share with me that she found getting a massage stressful because she would spend the whole massage thinking of all the things she could be getting done; and her body didn’t like being still, it wanted to move and be active. Self-care can be energizing activities, think of going for a walk, shaking your wrists out, dancing around the kitchen (one of my personal favourites), laughing with a friend, all these activities can replenish the soul through energizing it.
On the flip side, slowing down can also rejuvenate and replenish the soul. Think of the different senses, it’s not just about stopping to smell the roses but seeing all the details of their beauty, touching them, listening to them and well maybe tasting them, are there edible roses? It’s very easy to get caught up in the chaos of life and take on that frenetic pace of running from one task to the next. Think of self-care as taking the time for yourself. This might be easier said than done. Even finding five minutes to go to the bathroom by yourself can be a success for some busy parents or professionals. Remember you are worthy of this time and it is helping others to help yourself. I also think the bathroom is the perfect place to take a nice deep breath.
Thinking of yourself as worthy of self-care does not always come naturally to everyone. There can be psychological roadblocks stopping you from considering yourself worthy to take the time. Embracing imperfection, giving yourself permission or practicing forgiveness can be pieces of self-love and kindness that can lead to self-care worthiness. You might not know what psychological roadblocks are stopping you from accessing your full complement of self-care strategies. This is okay, reaching out to a counselling professional can help unblock those barriers. Engaging in healing or restorative work such as counselling or body work is a form of self-care in its own right.
Lastly, I’d like to leave you with a few different ideas for self-care. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Be inspired to make your own out-of-the-box self-care list. Be creative and maybe even a little wacky in your brainstorming, any idea you can think of goes on the list!
-wear your favourite colour (mine is pink)
-massage your face, the eyebrows and jawbone can hold a lot of tension
-attend a rally or march
-be silly, there is a reason why they say laughter is the best medicine
-smell a delicious scent, doesn’t have to be food related just a scent that makes your nose happy
-wrap yourself up in a cozy blanket
-re-read your favourite book from childhood
-let go of a thought that is causing you stress
-practice forgiveness and be gentle with yourself
Thank you for taking the time to read this article. I hope it has given you a broader sense of self care beyond the bubbles.