You come home after a long day at work, bone tired, eyelids heavy, and with an uncomfortable crick in your neck. All you want is a long, hot bubble bath, to read a couple chapters from that book you’ve been eyeing for the last month, and to turn in early for the night. It’s not implausible.
Your bathtub runs hot water and you’ve had some bath bubbles stashed under the bathroom sink for ages; that book on your nightstand has been whispering your name all week; your bed certainly hasn’t gotten up and walked out--at least, not as far as you know! But when you turn to look at your towering pile of laundry, you sigh. The self care will have to wait. What gives?
In this article, we’ll discuss:
Self care is, in the broadest terms, whatever it is you need to do to ensure that your mind, body, and emotional well-being are nurtured. Despite the very specific answer we gave above, self care doesn’t actually look like anything in particular.
For some people, it might be exactly what we described--scheduling in some rest and relaxation downtime. For others though, self care might mean expending energy, rather than trying to gain some back. One person’s stress-relief bath might be another person’s stress-relief workout.
Self care is, first and foremost, about energy. Each and every one of us puts forth x amount of energy in our day-to-day lives. In order to be fully functional human beings, then--as well as to reduce our chances of burnout--we have to find ways to replenish whatever energy we give away.
Research has shown that self care can also help us beyond our most basic needs, however. Particularly when it comes to moments we perceive as failures, studies have found that when we treat ourselves to self care in the face of failure, we open ourselves up to self-compassion--which, if we practice it enough, can not only help us to better manage stress, but also lead us to have greater motivation for self-improvement.
Despite the enthusiasm with which self care can call out to us sometimes, we all struggle when it comes to actually following through with it. One reason for this is we think we are wasting our time or that we’re being selfish. In truth, the opposite is true. While there are surely dishes that need to be washed or neighbors that need a hand with yard work, it is never a waste of time to treat ourselves to a little TLC. After all, we’re no good for expending energy on others if we have no energy left to give.