I always struggled with self-care. It’s a constant work-in-progress and honestly, I think that practicing self-care will be a challenge for the rest of my life. Self-care is hard for me because I constantly put others’ needs before my own, and I used to only see self care as indulging in typical self-care routines, like shopping sprees or mini getaways.
However, 2020 showed me what self-care really looks like, and I’m eternally grateful.
I love my friends more than anything, and I spent years bending over backwards to make sure they’re always OK. When my friends asked me how I felt, though, I’d usually say that I was “fine” whether I felt that way or not. For years, I pushed aside my feelings because I thought that I needed to stay strong for everyone else in my life.
However, because 2020 has been a crazy year, I realized that I needed to set aside some time each day to check in with myself and identify my feelings. I discovered that instead of constantly checking in with everyone else, I needed to check in with the most important person in my life: myself.
Do I still check in on my friends? Absolutely! But I check on myself and my feelings more often, and these days, I tell my friends how I truly feel. I’ve learned how to say things like, “No, I can’t talk to you today,” when I need some time to myself. Learning how to express my genuine feelings made a huge difference in my mental health.
2020 has also taught me that self-care doesn’t always look extravagant.
Sometimes, self-care just looks like taking care of your health. . For example, I started experiencing blood pressure problems this year. So I started eating healthier, cutting my salt intake, and continuing my fitness journey of working out every day – no matter what.
These changes annoyed me at first, especially cutting back on salt but a friend reminded me that taking care of my body is actually an important form of self-care. My friend’s words made me look at my lifestyle change differently, and it put self-care into perspective.
I don’t think that I’m alone in these revelations because 2020 has significantly impacted the ways that many of us care for ourselves. Since we can’t all go out to eat or head to the spa as easily as we could before the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had to look within ourselves and find new ways to practice self-care.
Maybe this year helped you set better boundaries at work or taught you how to say “no.” Perhaps this year helped you see that you need to get out of an unhealthy relationship or move to a new apartment. After all, self-care isn’t just shopping sprees and spa days with your besties; it’s so much more.
Self-care means doing what’s necessary for your physical and mental health while also recognizing that there’s no shame in taking care of yourself.
If it wasn’t for 2020 breaking me down, I would have never reevaluated self-care. In that way, though, I’m grateful for the challenges that 2020 brought because they helped me finally take care of my own needs. I hope that you can also find ways to toss your false beliefs about self-care out the window and relearn what self-care means to you. Self-care makes all the difference in your life, and you’ll be much healthier once you truly start caring for yourself.