What self-care is and isn’t

As we wrap up September and Self-Care Awareness Month here in Texas, I wanted to share a little bit about what self-care is and isn’t. While the actual activities or things we do when caring for ourselves can be as unique and different as each of us, there are some shared themes. In particular, once we know more about the purpose and value of self-care, the more helpful it becomes. Reflecting on my practice this month, here are some key takeaways that might be able to help you.

What self-care is and isn't

Self-care is...

  • A daily practice. Taking time to care for your mind and body is an essential part of overall wellness. It should be as non-negotiable as other things we prioritize, especially in our hustle-culture society.
  • Intentional and purposeful. Make sure you are getting the most out of your self-care by doing acts that genuinely help you rest and recover.
  • Important for staying grounded and preventing burnout. Whenever I talk with clients who are on the brink of burnout, I circle back to the idea that you can’t pour out of an empty cup. This is especially true for folks in high-intensity jobs or situations: medicine, military service, teachers, fellow therapists, graduate students, etc. What you do matters, and you need to give yourself the chance to rest and recover so you can keep doing what you love.

Self-care is not...

  • Selfish. The literal definition of selfish is a pervasive pattern of “lacking regard for others”. Taking care of yourself so that you can be there for others is the complete opposite.
  • A “once-in-a-while” activity. Vacations and a fancy night out might be “once-in-a-while” activity, but prioritizing your wellbeing is a daily practice.
  • Self-indulgent. Self-care isn’t easy. Sometimes it means prioritizing the things that will help us stay healthy and well, not just things that help us feel happy in the moment.
  • Something to ignore. As anyone who’s ever seen the “check engine” light turn on in their car will tell you: you can only ignore the warning signs for so long. Pay attention to what your mind and body is telling you, and treat self-care as an important part of your daily wellness routine.

How to keep developing your practice

Self-care is so important for living healthy, fulfilling lives. And this is especially true when we are intentional about how this practice supports our overall wellness. Reflect on how you’ve been taking care of yourself recently. Were you able to make some time for relaxation and rest? What did this process look like for you? What are some ways to keep growing in this area? If you’re looking for more ways to hone this skill here in Texas, check out your local community calendar for self-care events and workshops near you.