Take care of your body. Take care of your mind. Take care of your soul. Or parents, doctors, coaches, and teachers are just some of the people that articulate the importance of self-care in our day to day lives. However, it seems self-care is usually associated with something we don’t want to do: exercise, skip the fries for a salad, go to bed early, keep your mind sharp with brain games and what not. Lost in our desires to avoid these things at all cost, we forget how good they make us feel. Being a college student, I know I’m not alone when I say that I have gone days without showering; Either school, work, friends, parties, exercise, sleep, or even stress gets in the way of my showering routine. During these time periods, I feel like that character from Charlie Brown, the one with a relentless cloud of dirt radiating from his body. I feel gross and inhuman but, as soon as I ground one foot on the ceramic surface of a running shower, allowing the warm water to tumble onto my leg polluted with grime and soot, a wave of pure delight rages toward me, leaving not a single bead of discontentment in its path. The people out there that have forgotten to shower, which is probably everyone, understand that blissful feeling of the warm water cleansing all the inhuman remnants off your body. There’s nothing like it and, that’s what self-care is all about: feeling good.
Everyone has their own self-care technique that plays out in their day to day routine. For some people that’s going on a run after work, for some it’s playing their guitar in the park, for some it’s listening to live music, and for some it’s going to a new restaurant with some friends. These are all things that we do to give ourselves some love, some charm, but, most people only practice one or two methods, which, can be easily lost in the shuffle of life.
Sometimes there isn’t time to go for a run. Sometimes glasses break, so books cannot be read. Sometimes bank accounts eat all the money, leaving none to go out with friends. Sometimes life strips us of our sole self-care method and we forget how to care for ourselves, to love ourselves. We wallow in a dark room, blinds sealed shut, and the vortex of clothes scattered across the room looks as if the monster in our closet puked. Losing the sole way to take care of yourself is traumatizing but, instead of floundering in bed after the fact, what if you held an ace in your back pocket: more self-care techniques.
I have experienced the shear, hallow misery that accompanied the loss of my only self-care technique. I clung to exercise as my only way to care for myself, to love myself. Things took a turn for the worst and soon I was admitted into a treatment center for eating disorders; Told that exercise was not allow, period, I tumbled into a depression. Even going shopping was too much exercise, too much movement; I was lost and afraid and wallowed in a pool of self-pity until the fateful day I learned the true value of self-care. No. Self-love.
Caring for myself didn’t have to solely involve me, myself, and I; It didn’t have to be personal hygiene related or exercise related or even diet related. Sometimes self-care isn’t about the body, it’s about the mind. It’s about feelings. It’s about emotion. It’s about relationships. It’s about love. Sitting in that session, I authored a personal list of my own self-love tactics. Call a friend and ask them how they’re doing. Maybe, write them a letter. Listen to music. Find the next big artist. Work on crossword puzzles. Read a book. Volunteer at church. Learn something new. Watch a funny movie. Shower five times a day. Witness a gorgeous sunset. Explore my town. Cook. Clean. Live. Inspirations for activities bounced about my head and leapt from pen to paper. Discover quotes that I love. Draw pictures. Jot down positive affirmations. Mess around with my cat. Journal. Write. Think. I could do anything that made me happy, made me feel alive, made me feel like a person in this world. That’s when I truly realized, that self-care isn’t just about care. It is sincerely, genuinely, and honestly about love.
It seems that in this day in age, the idea of loving yourself has narcissism and selfishness buried at its core but, self-love has its roots interwoven in self-care. I mean, if you care for someone, you love them and, it’s crazy how we tend to forget this simple notion. It’s been a little over one year since I graduated from my treatment center and, I’ve never been happier. I’ve never loved myself more. I’m allowed to exercise again but, that’s not the only way I love myself. I read, I learn, I study, and most importantly, I write. It’s a pastime that I picked up due to my exercise restrictions and now, it is a beloved fascination. It makes me happy. It makes me feel whole. And, most importantly, I love myself while I’m doing it. Writing about my life, my struggles, my rock bottom, is my favorite self-care technique because it’s not just for me. I bare my story in the hope that no one will suffer the pain that I have, no one will endure the pain of feeling all alone in this world. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, love is something that is shared between two beings. It only makes sense that loving myself involves loving and caring for others.
Look up a joke every day. Read an inspiring article. Lean how to juggle. Call a good friend. Go skydiving, cliff jumping, rock climbing. Do anything that makes you feel alive in this world. Do something that makes you happy, makes others happy. Hug yourself every once in a while. Adore yourself because you are worth it. You are worth caring for. You are worth loving.
By: Rachel Rapier, Anxiety In Teens Contributor