The term “self-care” gets thrown around a lot these days.
Whether you’re skipping out on a co-worker’s birthday party (that you really didn’t want to go to anyway) to stay home and binge Squid Game, or treating yourself to a whole pint of Cherry Garcia, it’s all ok--if it’s in the name of self-care.
But what is self-care, really?
At its heart, it’s taking care of yourself, mentally and physically.
No green tea face mask required.
Self-care really means getting enough sleep, eating properly, drinking enough water, exercising, and taking care of your mental health and emotional needs.
Self-love is something else. It’s showing kindness to yourself.
So if self-care means just taking care of ourselves, that should be easy, right?
Think about a time when you were really struggling. Struggling to survive, physically or emotionally.
Whether you have struggled at one time or another to make ends meet or if you have struggled with your mental health, it’s one and the same.
If our basic human needs--our physical and mental wellbeing--aren’t met, we can’t even think about self-care.
How can someone living on a very small budget think about nutrition? They’re more focused on just making sure they have enough to eat.
Will someone who’s depressed remember to take their vitamins, drink enough water and exercise? Probably not.
So even though, at its core, self-care just means taking care of yourself, for those of us who are struggling to survive, even doing that can seem overwhelming!
So focus on self-love instead!
When we’re having a hard time, loving ourselves seems so difficult and, honestly, not all that important.
But it’s easy to practice self-love.
Think about the last time a friend made a mistake.
Related: How comparing yourself to others can make you NOT love yourself
Do you remember how you spoke to them? Did you comfort them? Reassure them? Let them know that you were there for them?
Now think about the last time you made a mistake. How did you talk to yourself?
Did you comfort yourself? Reassure yourself? Tell yourself that it’s ok to make a mistake? If you’re like most people, you probably berated yourself.
The way we talk to ourselves sometimes--we would never talk to another person like that!
Changing our self-talk is one of the most important ways we can practice self-love.
The words we say matter, even inside our own heads.
If you’re constantly putting yourself down, holding yourself up to impossible standards, and judging yourself, you will be hard-pressed to love yourself as you are.
If you’re always telling yourself things like “How could you mess that up? What are you, stupid?” or “Of course you lost your keys again, can you do anything right?” you will eventually start to believe those things about yourself.
However, there are ways to turn your self-talk around and start talking to yourself the way you talk to others.
And there are so many other ways to practice self-love--forgiving yourself, trusting yourself and even sometimes putting yourself first.
Self-love is so important because it means that you’re accepting your emotions for what they are, processing them, and then moving on.
It motivates you to make healthy choices in life, whether it’s what to eat or who to spend time with.
- Self-care ensures that you are taken care of.
- Self-love ensures that you live your fullest and most fulfilling life possible.
- By embracing self-love, you can open a door to a better and happier life.
And if you can practice self-care and self-love, well, now that’s powerful!
Are you struggling with negative thoughts about yourself and you need a little help working through them and discovering self-love? Schedule an appointment for individual therapy.