*Editor’s note: These posts were written back when my brand name was Remodel Fitness. I’ve decided to include them here without editing them, in the interest of…well… transparency. 😉
Let’s talk about self-care.
From about 13- 15 years old, I would do these nights I called “self-care nights.”
Basically that meant I stayed home and spent time by myself doing things to “improve” myself.
When I was a teenager, that mostly meant practicing makeup looks, learning to do my hair, and trying on all my clothes to see what looked good on me, and how they all went together. Eventually it gave way to giving myself a manicure and pedicure, doing face masks, exfoliating and moisturizing, whitening my teeth, and tweezing my eyebrows. Later on it would often include things intended to improve my body, like drinking lots of warm water with lemon, avoiding junk food, and doing little home dance workouts.
These self-care nights were all meant to be gifts to myself, and in many ways they really were. I’m a person who requires a lot of alone time to reflect and daydream, and I gave myself the time and space to do exactly that. But the majority of the actual activities were intended to improve myself by making myself prettier.
It’s a super bummer to admit this, but for women, self-care is often synonymous with improving her appearance. Using beauty products or spa services or other superficial ways to relax are very much the norm when a woman talks about taking “time for herself.” There’s nothing wrong with doing any of those activities of course, and of course whatever helps you unwind and feel cared for is EXACTLY what you should be doing to unwind and feel cared for! There’s no judgement at all, but when I look back on my old self-care nights I feel struck by how narrow my definition of “self-care” was at the time.
I wasn’t alone in that old narrow definition, either. Clients tell me all the time that they want to make more time for self-care, and when I ask what self-care looks like for them, they often rattle off a list of spa treatments, products, and general physical “upkeep” activities. Very often, the reason they don’t seem to ever make time for self-care is because their definition of self-care reads more like a chore list. It’s not motivating and luxurious, it’s work! They might feel accomplished, or healthier, or prettier, after having done those things, but often they don’t exactly feel… cared for.
Nowadays, my definition of self care is this:
Taking conscious responsibility to interpret, and meet, your own needs and desires.
The first step of appropriate self-care is awareness of what you actually need and desire.
If you default to spa treatments as self-care, when what you really desired was excitement and novelty, then you’re probably not going to feel very well cared for. You might feel instead like you’re ungrateful and anxious, since you spent the entire spa day thinking about being somewhere else.
Authentic self care requires accurate understanding.
If you want to take good care of yourself, you must learn what you actually want and need! Sharpen this skill by finding ways to put your needs and desires into clear and accurate and specific language! Journaling is one of my go-to’s for this, and both my blog and personal writings have helped me understand myself in this way immensely. But if I’m feeling stuck about what I really want or need, I’ll also pick up the phone and call a friend to talk it out outloud, and be asked probing questions by someone who I know cares about me.
Once you know what you need or desire:
The next step is to give yourself a gift that offers it!
If you feel restless after your spa day and start digging into what you really desire, you might discover you feel bored lately and what you’re really craving is INSPIRATION. Then you can start thinking about how to offer yourself the gift of inspiration. Maybe you’ll take a day off and book something crazy and new, like a pole dancing class or trip to the museum in order to get your mind out of a rut. Maybe you’ll reach out on facebook and ask for suggestions related to your favorite creative outlet.
Whatever you do, by offering yourself a gift that aligns with your actual desires, you are engaging in self-care.
Personally, choosing to focus on my gifts instead of my flaws is an act of self-care.
Choosing to see the best in people is an act of self-care.
Being assertive to others about my needs and desires is an act of self-care.
Making time to sit quietly with myself and BE instead of DO is an act of self-care.
In every moment, I believe you have the option to discover and do what’s best for YOU, or not. Therefore, in every moment you have the option to choose self-care. Let’s expand the narrow spa-day definition of “self-care” that women have been stuck with for so long, and start approaching self-care like a 24 hour a day job.
To me, self-care is a relentless commitment to taking responsibility for myself, putting into accurate language what I’m experiencing and what I desire, and then finding exact ways to give myself that.
Every time I do that (which is literally hundreds of times a day) I feel cared for. After doing it this way for so long, I completely trust my own ability to interpret and meet my own needs and desires, from the tiniest ones to the epic ones. I feel loved because I am constantly loving myself. I trust that someone always has my back, because I do.
THIS is the power of truly indulgent self-care habits.
What does self-care mean to you? How often do you practice it?
Hit reply and let me know!
<3 Jessi Kneeland Get strong. Feel confident. Look amazing.
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