Look, I’m an art therapist, I got the self-care jam in my pocket. But lately I’ve been reading article after article screaming that self-care is not enough. TBH at first, I couldn’t believe the headlines, I mean…we desperately need self-care, right?! Yet the articles argued valid points that we need the support of the community; a single individual’s act of compassion can change a life, but most importantly, we need a fresh perspective… Perhaps it’s time our generation re-brands self-care as self-love.
Take a minute to reflect on this, what do you imagine when you think of self-care? Many people see an image of a warm bubble bath and candles after a long day, doing their hair and nails to feel refreshed after a long week, while others think of adding more sleep, exercise or a healthy diet into their lives. Truly there are no wrong answers, because our needs and circumstances are unique to us and self-care can look quite different for all of us.
Self-care is the practice of taking action to protect or improve one’s own well-being and happiness, especially during periods of stress. Emphasis on taking action! However, I feel like we often shrug things and keep on trucking, we don’t even take time to process our emotions. Like that time Karen was so rude to you in the morning meeting, it threw you off and you didn’t say a word. A day later that was still bothering you, you pondered if you did something wrong and for a week, it drove you nuts, until you finally forgot about it.
There are 101 dalmatians, I mean, different ways to manage that situation in a positive way! Maybe reaching out to Karen to ask if everything was ok with her. I bet you can think of a few different scenarios. However, I want to point out how quickly you blamed yourself for whatever happened with Karen. Why couldn’t you ponder if Karen was having a bad day and if there was anything you could do to cheer her up? Would you think like that if you practiced self-love?
Unknowingly that week you stressed shop, stressed ate and snapped at people. There’s no one to blame, emotions don’t come with a manual. Karen hurt your feelings, (we have all been there!) but what makes a difference is how we respond to such challenges. Thankfully we can learn new lessons and next time triggering comments come your way, you can choose a healthier alternative. Whatever you may choose to do, make it so you express yourself from your heart. Whether you paint it out, exercise it out or put into words, just process those emotions out in a healthy way. That’s the best self-care, because it comes from self-love…
To practice self-love, you should get to know and accept yourself, you can learn more about the amazing you by asking yourself what’s your awesome? You can make a list of everything that is good in your life. Explore your emotions by asking yourself why certain situations make you feel that way. Taking the time to do that can save you self-care money later, you’ll become an expert on yourself and you will finally honor yourself and your emotions.
Self-love is having a high regard for your own-well-being and happiness, there is nothing narcissistic about it. When you love yourself, you can share that love with others. It takes practice, but it’s worth it. Think about it this way, self-care is like putting a band-aid after a truck has run over you. Self-love is like preventive health. It doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen. It means you are better equipped to handle it. Next week we can keep exploring these ideas, for now, you can draw what self-care/self-love means to you. If you’d like, you can send it to me, The Seva Tree’s art therapist. 😊.
Tamara Liz Rivera Hyde, LMHC is a mental health counselor, art therapist and spiritual guide. She loves to inspire people to tap into their innate creative abilities to self-express and self-actualize.