Handle With Care: Why Self-Care is a Necessity
More than a trending topic: self-care is a rite of passage & necessity these days. Here we take a look into why it's important to cultivate a practice of handling ourselves with care.
A bi-weekly mani/pedi. A facial. A warm bubble bath. A cozy nap. A great, healthy meal. Quiet time alone. Laughing with friends. Yoga. An intentional day off. Logging off social media. Getting a massage. Enforcing boundaries… what do all these things have in common? Two words: Self-Care. Yup that's right, #selfcare (because it's all about the hashtags these days) is more than just a trending topic or a buzzword, it’s a way of life! If you ask more and more women how they care for themselves, they will most likely rattle off a list of at least a few personal indulgences. Self-care practices. Activities, rituals, etc. that aid us in our support to carve out space & time just for us, to take better care of ourselves. Why? Because we deserve it! And as a woman, being forced to multi-task and wear so many hats in this modern-day world, it is now almost a right of passage to find a self-care routine that works for you.
But what does your self-care look like?
Well, it's different for everyone and can vary according to the individual. Some might find respite in a fun girls' night out, while others of us may like to unwind on the couch with a glass of wine (Netflix & chill anyone?). The range runs the gamut. From adventurous endeavors that stimulate the senses to more serene and peaceful activities that soothe the soul. At the end of the day though, whatever serves each woman in her journey to be better to herself, and become a better version of herself is fair game. So long as it builds her up and doesn't deplete her. After all, self-care is usually implemented to combat things like burnout, fatigue, stress, etc.
But what makes it so crucial in today’s day and age? According to the American Psychological Association, burnout is an actual disorder, with diagnosable symptoms. This includes physical and emotional exhaustion, cynicism and detachment, or feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment among other things. Many of us are ambitious women with a full plate; whether you're a full-time mom, corporate leader, entrepreneur or student… We can't seem to pack enough stuff into our lives that leave us reeling and flirting with high-stress levels. Layer in the intersectionality of systemic racism on top of gender bias; and women of color actually face burnout at alarming rates. Regardless of age, occupation or disposition. Even the calmest person can experience higher levels of stress than he/she is cognizant of. So self-care is a way to restore balance to our stressful, often over-stimulated & action-packed lives.
Self-care also seems to be one of the last bastions of hope for those of us who wish to salvage a little piece of peace for ourselves, in this crazy chaotic world where “more is more”. It gives us a chance for us to slow down time, attune to self and just enjoy whatever moment we’ve consciously chosen for ourselves. A tiny piece of heaven we can create, to indulge in however we’d like and when we choose. It is the ultimate staycation & “baecation” all at once that can happen any & everywhere we see fit! It gives us a chance to take off our outside responsibilities and actually respond to our own needs, in a caring & mindful manner. More importantly, it is a precursor that sets the tone for the more grand practice of self-love (more on that another time). Setting up good habits to revere, relish & dote on ourselves, sets us up for greater self-appreciation, higher self-esteem, and reprioritization of boundaries: to not always put ourselves last in the equation when it comes to daily life. We are able to respond to ourselves better, which tends to ripple outward to the world. Making us better women, and more equipped to handle whatever life throws at us.
Self-care can also be therapeutic and healing…
It can have subtle yet amazing effects on both our physical and emotional well being. Research has actually found that those who were taught to cultivate appreciation and other positive emotions, experienced a 23 percent reduction in cortisol -- the key stress hormone -- than those who did not. By putting ourselves in a position of gratitude and relaxation, and tending to self; self-care can ease the mind and increase positive thinking in the moments we are practicing it. Resulting in a less stressed mental state, and where the mind goes: the body follows! It has been proven that a relaxed mental state can actually lead to a relaxed physical state and can trigger a relaxation response which can aid in preventing damage caused by chronic stress. Including lessening physical & mental stress brought on by traumatic incidences and helping heal our mental, physical and spiritual relationships with ourselves. It goes way beyond things like deep conditioning our hair and exfoliating!
...self-care is not just a passing fad, but a necessity.
No matter if it’s trending or not, self-care is not just a passing fad, but a necessity. Once that can have deeply beneficial effects on our lives, one small moment at a time. If we simply take the time for ourselves. Now the real question is: can we get the governments to pass an international self-care holiday, and make it mandatory for all to observe??? *sigh* If only.
Who knows, maybe someday we can lobby for that, but at least we can dream! In the meantime, let’s continue to do what's needed to take better care of ourselves, by carving out at least an hour each day to do something just for us. Because even a small start, is a step in the right direction to feel better. So go ahead girl, #treatyoself!