We hear it all the time. You need to take care of yourself. Self-care is more than posting positive life quotes you find on Pinterest. It is more than hashtagging #treatyoself. Self-care really begins when you start evaluating what your soul actually needs. This can be super fucking difficult but it is all part of the process. As a therapist, I encourage people to focus on themselves and work on what is causing the hold up in their life. There is shit that holds us back and prevents us from becoming the best version of ourselves. I think there are a few important things you can do to totally improve your life. We get comfortable being comfortable. We don’t push ourselves. We become stagnant; stuck in ruts. Doing what we always do. Shutting down. Pushing people away. Isolating. Working at a job we aren’t happy in because we are comfortable. This is all self-defeating. Stop it. Stop telling yourself that it is what it is. Because we were created to live a life, not let life control us.
I am going to share my TOP 8 self-care tips with you. I will share some embarrassing stories and I will be brutally honest. This is real but you deserve that.
1. GET HONEST WITH YOURSELF!!! This is the most important part of self-care. Admitting that we may need help. That we aren’t always okay. If you are sad; address it. If you are anxious; talk about what the fuck is actually going on with you. If you have trauma; deal with it. If you aren’t happy with how you look; eat right and work out. Stop making damn excuses and love yourself enough to be honest with what you need. No one can do this for you. Someone could sit here all day and tell you that you can do it. That you are worthy. Blessed. Loved. But until you believe that shit, it will do nothing for you. Being honest with yourself and admitting things that you don’t want to is SO HARD. But let me tell you, it is so liberating to actually admit and say things out loud that are holding you back. Why do you think there are millions of people that make a career of listening? Because you need that shit to grow as a human. I appreciate 12 step programs for one reason. Getting sober from anything is life changing. That involves complete commitment to self-care. In the program, they have 2 steps that are imperative to recovery but I feel like these are necessary for self-care:
Step 4-Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Step 5- Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
So what does that mean? It means you got to dig deep, get honest and address your shit. When you are ready, you talk about it with someone else and let that stuff out. The lies we tell our self is what keeps us from greatness. Work through your shit. Be real with you. You are fucking worth it.
2. FIND WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY!!! Ugh, this is a hard one. Because we fucking settle. Man, I will be the first to admit I do this. There is so much significance in the saying, “get comfortable being uncomfortable.” Why? We get busy, we have kids, we get in routines, we don’t have time, we don’t have the money, we are tired, work is crazy. Should I go on? You get the point. We let life take over and stop living. Can you honestly remember the last time you did something that made you feel joy? Like your heart exploded from feeling so happy. Because that feeling should be happening. Things aren’t going to make you happy. That new handbag, yes it is super cute but in 2 weeks from now is it going to bring you joy? Those new sneakers and workout clothes are great but are they going to give you motivation in a month to keep working on yourself? You feel me? Try new things, put yourself out there. Do things that scare you or my favorite, do things that “make you feel weird.” Things are just things, you need to figure out what fuels your soul. What you’re missing. The only way you can figure this out it by trying. Find what makes you smile from the inside out. It is trial and error. You won’t know though until you start getting uncomfortable. There is nothing holding you back from your own happiness but you getting in the way.
3. STAY OFF SOCIAL FUCKING MEDIA. WHOA, did I just say that?? Yes, I did. Because it is toxic. “Aren’t they so cute?” “They look so happy?” “Wow, her body.” “He is so hot!” “Did you see this?” “I can’t even.” “Can you believe this?” “No he/she didn’t really post that.” I don’t know about you, but I am so guilty of this. Before I know it, I have been scrolling for 2 hours and stalking this girl from college boyfriend’s sister’s best friends gym workout and oh the cute puppies. When you are going through it, don’t scroll, it legit can make you feel so shitty. If you’re sad, don’t post vague comments and look for people to ask you what is wrong. Go see someone, talk to a friend or someone you trust. It is self-defeating and to be honest bullying yourself. Social media is great for a lot of things but it is not real life. People post an image of what they want you to see. There are filters that make things look perfect. Not everything is what it appears to be. Remember that. Everyone has shit going on. There are some great parts of social media, don’t get me wrong but don’t fall into the comparison trap. It gets you know where and when you are feeling insecure there is no self-care happening.
4. DON’T STAY IN or START SHIT RELATIONSHIPS. This goes for friendships, work relationships, boyfriends/girlfriends and marriages. What I have learned is that relationships take work regardless the nature. Two parties need to be involved and invested. People grow out of each other. It happens and it is life. Don’t feel obligated to hang on to someone that you have outgrown. I have never been married so I cannot speak to the way to perfect a marriage but I know enough married people to know what works and what doesn’t. The key to success and happiness in a relationship is respect and communication. I know tons of unhappy people that stay married for kids or for money. WHY??? You think your children are stupid and can’t tell you are miserable. So what, we stay together and set an example that settling is okay? Hell NO. I recently started dating and things are so different from what I remember. I met this guy, I totally liked and thought there was potential. I got super excited. Told my friends about him. Would get excited when Is aw his name on my phone. All of the sudden, crickets, NOT A WORD. No response. How terrible. I felt embarrassed and shitty. Had my friends over, drank wine and cried like I was in high school. Why did I personalize this? Because I wanted someone to like me? Fuck. I had to get real with myself and remind myself that not everyone is going to like you. Not everyone is going to have the same feelings and that is okay. A part of being healthy is the ability to handle rejection. It is going to happen again I am sure. But what can I do? Here is where self-care comes in to play. You have to be healthy. If I wasn’t in a healthy place, I would sit on this and allow it to make me some insecure woman who will never find “the one.” Um, FUCK THAT. It is the same with friends. I have had friendships with people I thought I would have for my entire life that have no clue how I am doing or what my life is like. Don’t chase people who aren’t willing to do the same for you. Don’t force relationships. If you get the vibe that someone isn’t where you are let it go. Don’t own or over analyze what you did wrong or could have done different. Sometimes shit happens and that’s all you can do about it. If someone hurts you in a relationship, is unfaithful or abusive. That is not you. You can only control your actions. Don’t own that. Don’t allow someone’s shit behavior dictate how you feel about yourself. If someone acts like an asshole, it is because that is who they are, not who you are. Remember that.
5. TAKE TIME FOR YOU. I find the time I get the most real with myself is when I pray. Why is this important for self care? Faith, that is what is important. Whatever or whoever you believe in, take time out to focus on that. I pray on a lot because I don’t understand a lot. I know a lot of people struggle, what can I do? I can’t save them but I can pray for them. If I have a ton of stressful stuff going on. I pray about it. Learn to meditate, take time to focus on your thoughts and feelings. What I tell clients all the time is that feelings are temporary. They are not forever, things that may create overwhelming and unmanageable feelings at one moment, won’t feel that way in time. Feelings are just that feelings don’t let them take your life over. Taking time for you isn’t buying yourself something nice. It is carving time out that is specific to you. Go to a yoga class or the gym. Write in a journal or start a blog. Take time to develop your health in every sense. I am a single mom and I get so caught up in life that I forget that I have needs too. I started to make it a point to dedicate time for activities that are just for me. I can tell you that when I skip those things, or I don’t pray about something. I feel like shit.
**I have to throw in an essential oil plug here. This is one of the reasons I got into diffusing oils. It helps bring me down. Focus and relax. Gives me the motivation that I need at times. Essential oil use dates back to the bible, they use Frankincense in church to this day. Why? It is sacred and there are over 52 references of Frankincense in the bible; it creates emotional balance and improves focus. Putting oils in my diffuser before bed is part of my routine, but it also is something I do for my overall well-being.
6. COMMUNICATE. Use your words. Please. Please. Please. Talk about shit. Don’t ignore it. Don’t be mean. I will tell you a secret; hurt people, they hurt people. Remember the guy that “ghosted” me. He later told me he was in a crisis and had things going on that were too much to handle and decided to, (his words), “shut down.” In your adult life, how is this the slightest bit healthy? Pushing people out of your life? It’s not healthy AT ALL. With my therapy clients, we use a feelings chart to learn how to put words on emotion. This is part of being healthy. This is part of self-care. I had another recent experience where someone said some pretty nasty things to me about an event that happened 15 years ago. Really? You held on to that shit for 15 years… Who is that hurting? It’s hurting you. If someone hurts you, tell them. If you are upset communicate that. Don’t text your feelings. Don’t go on rants. Talking things out is mature and takes courage. When you send text messages or emails, they are interpreted by the reader . They don’t get to hear the tone or sincerity in your voice. Get your smart phone out and use a thesaurus if you aren’t good with words. Write down what you want to say before you say it. Maybe I am beyond blessed but I communicate with my friends and my family. My sister has told me on more than one occasion that I was being a bitch or out of line. My own mother has no problem calling me out on my shit. My friends have told me I need to pull it together when I am being dramatic. I do the same with. If you have a coworker that is a dick, there is a way to address that. You can be assertive and not be a bitch. You can tell someone how you feel, that doesn’t make you a asshole. If you are afraid of someone’s reaction to your feelings then that relationship needs to be evaluated to make sure it’s not toxic or abusive. I see adults dealing with trauma that happened to them as a child 10, 20, 30 years later. Why? They never communicated the hurt and that shit does not go away if you don’t address it. It eats you. You can only wear a disguise for so long before you start losing it.
With communication, being healthy and utilizing self-care. You need to be able to listen. If someone tells you that they are hurt by your actions. Own it. Don’t blame them for having feelings. You are not crazy for wanting to express your self. Let someone tell you how they feel. Don’t become defensive. Don’t be rude. Be an adult and give someone the same respect as you would want in return. Criticism isn’t bashing, it is a way to grow. If you can’t take suggestions on how to grow, you have to look at that. Be approachable. Open. You know that you would want that too.
7. KNOW YOUR VALUE. Fuck, another one I am guilty of. Damn, this is getting real right about now. I am not trying to be a preacher or motivational speaker here but you need to know that you have worth. You are here on this earth and have a purpose. Sometimes, we make bad choices that hold us back from our potential. You need to let go of the self doubt and fear that you aren’t good enough and know that you are a fucking champion (Thank you Brock O’hurn for reminding me of this. If you don’t know him, google him.) We have all been through something. We all carry luggage. But that is what makes you unique and resilient. For the longest, I would look at myself in the mirror and not recognize myself. I allowed myself to be in abusive relationship after abusive relationship. Seek for worth in a partner. HELLO, there Amanda.. It is reality and you need to get a fucking grip. Well, after years of trial and error, I know what I want, what I am willing to accept and how I want to be treated. I have days where I feel like crap but I remember that I have been through the fucking fire and made it out alive. Remind yourself of who the fuck you are. If you aren’t in love with yourself, how can you expect that from anyone else? If you don’t respect yourself, will others? You set the standard. You can make that change. My sister went from being an anorexic, insecure, party queen to a beautiful, confident women. She is healthy and happy. Owns a gym. Encourages others to be the best version of themselves. Why, she is a fucking champion that is why. She knew what was unhealthy. Got honest and started loving herself. She is a success and an inspiration to thousands. You can be anything. Self-care is what gets you there.
8. YOU NEED TO EAT, SLEEP AND DRINK WATER. Have you ever heard, “you are what you eat?” Well ain’t that the truth. You know when you eat that pizza and then some bread and wings, wash it down with a beer. You feel like shit. Big time. You are sluggish and feel all full and nasty. When your pee is dark, that is not good. I promise you. That is supposed to be clear. Your body needs water. Those dark circles under your eyes are a sign that you need to sleep. These things so so simple but are the pillar of self-care. It all starts with what we put in our body and how we treat our “temple.” Food is fuel, I want my fuel to be premium. Not going to lie, I slip. I drink too much wine and eat the dessert. I am human. But I don’t do that every day. I am mindful of what I put in my body. I know how much water I should be drinking. I know that I need sleep or I am a crazy person. Self care all starts right here. I have heard so many fucking excuses and have made some myself about eating right. “It’s expensive to eat healthy.” I believe your health is worth that expense. Take care of yourself. Drink your water, eat your veggies and go to bed. Netflix will be there tomorrow. Self-care can be this simple.
So that’s it. My 8 tips to self-care. I know this may seem light hearted but in all reality, these are simple things you can do to start your own self-care. With that being said, there is a real serious component of self care and that is your mental health. Don’t neglect this. If you are depressed or going through something, talk to someone. If you are in the Metro-Detroit Area and want a therapist, I will help you find one. If you want resources, I will help you. All you have to do is reach out. Take a chance on yourself. Push yourself to a new limit. Love yourself enough to care for you. Nothing is permanent, your past does not define you. Everyone has shit they aren’t proud of but is that enough to stop caring for yourself? You can love your own self to health and happiness. What do you have to lose?