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Mental Health

What Self-Care Means to Me, Now

About a year and a half ago, I wrote an article about what self-care meant to me (find it here). I filled it with all of the ways I practiced self-care and noted that I may practice it differently than others do based on my life situation. My list was exhaustive and complete, and it noted my use of common self-care activities like therapy and art as well as personal self-care activities like watching The Office or being alone. When I look back at my article, I still connect with much of what I wrote, but it also shows me how much more I have learned about myself and what self-care truly means to me.

Self-care is so much more than the activities we do for ourselves. It is the way we speak to ourselves. The way we treat our bodies. The way we engage with our emotions. Utilizing self-care is the only way we can operate as our true, energized selves and give to others fully.

Since writing that article in 2017, I have had to amend my self-care activities to match my varying emotional and physical states. While I wish I could always paint, and hang out with friends, and have alone time, and go to therapy, and exercise, and more all in a day, I honestly just can’t. I have had to majorly simplify my life and my self-care routine, and it has paid off more than it ever had when I was trying to fit every self-care activity into my day.

To take care of my mind, body, and soul (sorry, I’m woo-woo!), I only ask three things of myself every day:

  1. I ask myself to allow enough time to sleep well. **This is different than asking myself to get "good sleep."
  2. I ask myself to create space to feel and decompress — usually through meditation, but also through yoga.
  3. I ask myself to move my body — whether with a high-intensity workout or a long walk.

I still have plenty of days where I can’t do all three, but I am grounded in the fact that these simple activities make me feel like my best self. The way we care for ourselves is ever-changing, as it should be. Each day — and certainly each year — we are different than the last and we must acknowledge and accommodate for our changing selves. All we can do is our best, and that’s all that self-care asks of us: to be kind to ourselves and respect that not every day will be perfect (and that this is just a part of the journey, not a reflection of our decline).

Looking back at my past writing is a bit odd to do because it confirms how much I have changed. But it also reminds me that self-care is not stagnant and it can mean whatever it needs to mean for me in the moment. As my close friend Chelsea likes to say… It’s just for now.

So whatever self-care means to you, do just that. Whatever it is that makes you feel one with yourself and good in your body is what you should do every. darn. day.

Hadley is a fourth year at UC Davis, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Professional Writing and Human Rights. She is a mental health advocate and the Vice President of Event Planning for the Pi Beta Phi sorority. She loves to play soccer, paint, and watch The Office. She is planning on pursuing a career in writing and editing, and hopes to work for a magazine after graduating.
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