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  • Writer's pictureJD Grantham

The (Not-So) Selfish Art of Self-Care

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

National Self-Care Awareness Month Unwrapped!

Here we are, tiptoeing through another September. As the leaves decide whether to hang on or let go, we're here talking about hanging on, letting go, and—wait for it—self-care! Surprise, surprise! Or not, considering it's National Self-Care Awareness Month.

Closeup of person holding mug; National Self-Care Awareness Month

The Intro to ALL Intros: What's Self-Care, Anyway?

Imagine a world where you're given a shiny, gleaming token every time you take a moment for yourself. Every nap, every quiet moment with a book, every piece of dark chocolate savored—ding!—another token! Sounds dreamy? That, my friend, is the universe of self-care.

Self-care is not just bubble baths and spa days (though we're not knocking those!). It's about recognizing what you need—mind, body, and spirit—and giving that to yourself. A gift from you to you. Kind of like buying yourself flowers, but often less Instagrammable and more soul-soothing.

Breaking it Down

Per the National Institute of Mental Health, self-care means taking the time to do things that help you live well and improve both your physical health and mental health. Self-care, often misconstrued as mere pampering, encompasses a rich tapestry of actions and attitudes prioritizing one's well-being. For some, this may mean a quiet meditation or a vigorous workout, while for others, it's a simple stroll in the park or a dedicated digital detox.

It could involve seeking therapy, ensuring adequate sleep, or making time for hobbies and passions. Physical self-care might look like regular check-ups or honoring dietary needs. Emotionally, it can be about setting boundaries, processing feelings, or reaching out for support. Intellectually, it might involve reading, learning a new skill, or simply taking breaks. Spiritually, it can range from religious practices to stargazing. Check out some of these free printable self-care checklists to help get you started on your own self-care journey.

We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” — Dolly Parton

The Evolution of Self-Care: From Ancient Rituals to Bubble Baths and Beyond!

Ah, let's get nostalgic! Did our ancestors participate in self-care? You bet your sweet yoga pants they did!

  • The Greeks believed in Eudaimonia, which roughly translates to 'human flourishing.' They weren't just about the Olympic games, folks. They knew the value of nurturing the soul.

  • The Ancient Egyptians? Oh, their elaborate beauty rituals weren't just for aesthetics. They believed in the sanctity of both outer and inner beauty.

  • Let's not forget the Native American sweat lodges, Japanese forest bathing (Shinrin-yoku), and Indian yoga and meditation practices. They all had this fantastic notion: that taking time to rejuvenate oneself was paramount to not only individual but collective wellbeing.

Three images of other cultures self-care practices; National Self-Care Awareness Month

Over the ages, self-care has transformed, adapted, and evolved, but its core principle remains the same: nurture oneself. So, yes, while Cleopatra might've bathed in milk, we have bath bombs. Evolution, you see?

"Give Me Ideas!": Whimsical (and Practical) Examples of Self-Care

Not all self-care is created equal, and there are multiple ways to take care of yourself. But we have scraped together some delightful self-care practices you can dip your toes into or dive headlong:

  1. Journaling with a Twist: Start a "Dear Future Me" journal. Write letters to your future self about the mundane, the magical, and the mad moments. Yes, even that embarrassing fall yesterday.

  2. Dance Like Nobody's Watching: Because seriously, in your living room, no one is (unless you are a burgeoning TikTok influencer; in that case, give them a show!).

  3. Cooking with a Side of Podcast: Make that fancy dish you've been eyeing, but pair it with a quirky podcast episode. Cooking + Learning = A match made in self-care heaven.

  4. Digital Detox Weekend: Turn off those gadgets, grab a book, or watch the clouds go by. Not every tweet needs your attention.

  5. The 5-Minute Doodle Break: Remember how fun doodling used to be? Bring that back. Bonus if it's utterly nonsensical!

  6. Send a Postcard to Yourself: From your city, your home, or your imaginary trip to Narnia. Pen down what you loved about that day and send it to Future You.

Keep good company, read good books, love good things and cultivate soul and body as faithfully as you can. — Louisa May Alcott

The beauty of self-care is its universality while being deeply personal. It's fluid, defined by individual needs, cultures, and life stages. Essentially, self-care is the conscious act of granting ourselves permission to recharge and grow, and it's a practice everyone deserves to integrate into their life in their own unique way.

Man meditating on platform surrounded by foliage; National Self-Care Awareness Month

Time to wrap up our self-care burrito. National Self-Care Awareness Month isn't just about acknowledging the importance of self-care but actively indulging in it. Remember, it's not about what you do but how it makes you feel. Choose joy, choose peace, choose giggles. But most of all, choose YOU. It's a reminder, a nudge, a wink from the universe saying, "Hey, take care!"

And between you and me? Sometimes, that's all we need.


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