When we think of the word “self-care,” we often think that means that we need to take more time for ourselves, take a vacation, or try out a new hobby. While these things can definitely be useful in helping us learn to take care of ourselves, adding new things into our over-stressed lives can become overwhelming, exhausting, and very expensive.
I don’t know how many new gym memberships I have bought on a whim to practice “self-care.” I have signed up for new yoga classes, barre classes- basically any class that you can name under the sun. I have also purchased countless materials for new art projects and I have spent a ton of money on a spa treatment that didn’t really make me feel any better.
Once I started to realize that practicing “self-care” was draining me financially and bringing light to all of my physical and artistic deficits, I noticed that I wasn’t really feeling any better. I was more overworked and exhausted than before I started. That is when I started to practice what I call intentional self-care.
Think about it. We do so many things that are already self-care exercises without even noticing it. Have you taken a shower lately? Yes? Well then you have experienced an opportunity to intentionally practice self-care. Have you taken a walk around your neighborhood? Or just to the mailbox? That could be self-care too. When we intentionally live our lives in a way that embraces and acknowledges our daily natural opportunities to practice self-care, we can start to relax a little.
The first step practicing intentional self-care is to begin noticing the things that you do everyday that could potentially bring you pleasure, relaxation, and rest- we do these things without even noticing it. Once we become intentionally aware of how we are already taking care of ourselves we can then begin to build on our own success. It is a good idea to start keeping a self-care journal. Spend the first day just becoming aware of things that we do for ourselves and simply write those things down in your journal. Over the next few days, begin to tally how often you catch yourself doing these things. You will start to see that you actually already have some hobbies to build on. You don’t need to start some new grand adventure, oftentimes the tools are already there.
The next step involves doing these things with intention. It may sound silly, but sometimes I will verbally remind myself that I am getting ready to do some self-care. Before drawing a bath at the end of a long hard day, I will pause and say “I am going to practice self-care by taking this bath.” This not only helps me remember to take advantage of the self-care properties of this experience, it also helps take away some of the guilt I may feel for spending an extra 30 minutes relaxing in the water.
Whatever you choose to do for self-care, make sure that you do it with intention. You deserve to take time to yourself everyday and you deserve to trust that you have all of the tools and skills already within you. No purchase necessary.
Originally published on selfcarediary.com