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Since I was a child, I’ve always made sure to meet my basic needs.
If I came home tired from school, I’d rest. If playtime felt like too much, I’d excuse myself and ask my mother to take me home.
Throughout the years, my basic needs had changed, but I constantly made sure to meet them. During my first job, I remember coming home and soaking my feet in hot water and sea salt. During college, having a bath once a week was a necessity.
I’ve always been aware of what fuels my soul. Although it’s become harder and harder to find some “me” time, I simply can’t deprive myself of what I need most. Now, we call it self-care. It’s all about looking after ourselves and finding ways to reconnect with our bodies and minds.
There are various ways to do this. We are encouraged to journal, exercise, socialize, get occasional massages, travel, go to bed early, and so on. These are the self-care routines we talk about. But what about the ones that are as crucial but are rarely discussed? The routines that are invisible? The practices that could literally change our whole lives for the better?
1. Forgiving ourselves. We talk so much about forgiving others, but rarely do we talk about us—our own f*ckups and failures. Holding a grudge against ourselves is a recipe for emotional disaster. We remain stuck in a past situation, dialogue, or moment and rob ourselves of our peace and freedom. Forgiving ourselves is an underrated form of self-care. If we wish to look after ourselves, we need to face our mistakes, make peace with them, and understand that we didn’t (and couldn’t) know better at the time.
2. Accepting our emotions. All of them. I know we all want happiness—untainted. We would be out of our minds if reaching utter bliss and peace of mind isn’t at the top of our list. However, happiness isn’t what we will always get. One of the best things that self-care routines offer us is contentment; however, accepting the opposite of emotional satisfaction is a complete self-care routine in itself. That said, allow your emotions to come and go without judging them. It’s true they’re complex and messy, but they’re also fleeting.
3. Allowing ourselves to dream. So many of us are ashamed of our desires or goals. We are even ashamed of thinking or fantasizing about them. A successful self-care routine holds at its core the permission to let ourselves dream without feeling shame, guilt, or hopelessness. Our imagination is ours and ours alone. No one can steal it away from us. Own it, appreciate it, and try to give it life.
4. Not wanting to do anything. We’re constantly told to do so much. After all, all the self-care routines we know and practice are about doing something. As a result, we might feel guilty for sitting on the couch and staring into the ceiling. We have this tendency to always hold something, read something, or eat something. But doing nothing is sometimes okay—and soul-refreshing. If you truly love yourself, let yourself be.
5. Changing our minds. We learn, we grow, and we develop. We are not meant to stay where we are or keep looking through the same lens over and over again. Sadly, this is not what we have been taught. We’ve been told that adjusting our perceptions and choices is a warning sign. It means we’re not committed enough, not serious enough, or not “adult” enough. Genuine self-care means the ability and possibility to alter our decisions and views according to our present experience. It’s not shameful; it’s beautiful.
There are many other self-care routines we don’t talk about. What are yours, and how do you take of yourself mentally and emotionally?