Self Care 101
If you scrolled through Instagram on any Sunday, you would think self care means throwing your lavender bath bomb into the tub and snapping a photo of your candle-lit bath (wine glass included, of course). I'm all for the #TreatYoSelf movement, but I'm here to tell you that Self Care encompasses so much more. It means setting boundaries and sticking to them, unpacking childhood trauma and learning how to effectively communicate your feelings. Practicing self care ultimately requires getting to know yourself better, and the most important relationship you will ever have is with yourself. The sad truth is we often take better care of other people than we do ourselves.
Three years ago, this was me. I had just gotten out of a toxic relationship. I remember being so lost and so hurt because I realized that I didn’t know myself anymore. Everything I did in that time of my life had revolved around one person. I didn’t even know what my goals were, or what I was interested in. I slept so much until one day I got up and I realized that I hadn’t been loving myself the way I should have. It was in that moment that I embarked on a self love journey and truly began to learn what it means to take better care of myself. When you truly love yourself, flaws and all, taking care of yourself comes naturally.
Write down positive affirmations.
After a horrible break up, I began writing positive affirmations everywhere to remind myself of my worth with little notes on my closet door or on the wall beside my bed that said things like, “ You are loved,” “You are beautiful,” and, “You matter” It seemed so silly at the time, but these little notes changed my life. Sometimes we get so consumed in waiting for someone else to come along and tell us these things, we forget that what we feel about ourselves is more important. If you find it difficult to come up with your own affirmations, then I recommend downloading an app called Eternal Sunshine by Londrelle. He also has meditation albums that can be found on YouTube and iTunes. My favorite song on his latest album, “Floral Escape,” is Let Love Flow.
You set the standard for how you want to be loved.
One of the most revolutionary things that I’ve learned is this: by loving myself first, I set the standard for how I wanted to be loved. When I love myself, I won’t choose to settle for anyone who is treating me any less than what I deserve.
by loving myself first, I set the standard for how I wanted to be loved
Surround yourself with people who help you grow, not enable you. By the end of my first summer in college, my life took a complete 360. I had never been in a friendship, or any relationship for that matter, that forced me to communicate my feelings effectively. I have always been really passive aggressive, so effective communication hasn’t always been my strong suit. My friends literally came into my life and changed that. Because of our friendship, I’ve been forced to unlearn so many toxic behaviors, and I’m so blessed to have friends who tell me what I need to hear-even when I don’t want to hear it. Pro Tip: Know that the toxic person isn’t always another person, but sometimes it is you.
It is okay to say no, you just have to stick to it.
One of the best things that you can ever do for yourself is learning how to say no and sticking with it. Society makes you feel bad when you want to set aside time for yourself. Listen to your body and know that your feelings are valid. If your friends ask you to go out, but you decide that you’re too tired, know that it is okay to say no. If you decide to go despite not feeling up to it, you convey the message to others that your feelings and decisions are up for debate. You must be firm in your no so that people don’t trample your boundaries. Self care requires honesty with yourself and others about your boundaries.
Spend time with yourself.
Learn to be content in your solitude. Sometimes we are so afraid to be alone that we keep people who treat us badly in our lives just because they fill a void. If your happiness, joy or peace is tied to someone else then you are setting yourself up for disappointment and heartache. You have to find those things within yourself and the only way to do that is to spend time with yourself. Observe your thoughts and where they lead you. What are you passionate about? When do you feel happiest? When do you feel at peace?
Know that this is a forever thing.
People will come into your life and people will leave, but you will always have you. Be gentle with yourself. You don’t have to understand or put all of these things into practice in a certain amount of time. As long as you are willing to grow and you aim to be a better version of yourself than you were the day before, you will always win. Be patient, change doesn’t happen overnight.
Eboni is a published author and poet who writes political pieces. Almost 99.9% of the time, she is somewhere meditating with incense burning and an India Arie tune playing in the background. Her biggest goal is to radically change the world around her to make it a better place for all who are oppressed or marginalized.