The Art of Self-Care

I had no plans for the Easter long weekend. 5 days of freedom, and no plans. At the outset this sounds glorious, but knowing myself I’d get maybe 12 hours in before the lack of plans drove me into a deep pit of lazy discontentment and snappish irritability.

I chose, instead, to dedicate my long weekend to self-care – doing things I like, things that are good for me, for no other reason than making myself happy. This weekend, slef-care meant long hours writing or reading, baking and cooking for my family, afternoon naps and board games with friends, long hot baths, buying new make up and an especially lovely breakfast by the harbour on a rainy Autumn morning.

Self-care is different for everyone – to some people, it means going for a run, to others a lazy morning sleep-in, or a trip to the beach, seeing a movie. Self-care plays an extremely important role in maintaining my wellbeing and improving my outlook, but I have a tendency to feel guilty for dedicating time to myself. Somehow it feels wrong, selfish, neglectful of the people in my life and my responsibilities to them.

I’ve struggled with that for a long time. Taking time to read or write can be especially hard for me. I feel like I’m doing nothing with my time, even when there’s no one there to see it. I’ve had to challenge that part of myself, sometimes more successfully than others. But this past weekend, I finished and submitted a short story I was convinced I wouldn’t complete. I slept late and woke when  I wanted and didn’t punish myself for it. I spent a large sum of money on things that I wanted and didn’t second-guess myself or feel guilty for it.

I feel there’s a powerful stigma attached to acts of self-care – investing time in yourself is so often dismissed as vain, selfish, arrogant or attention seeking. I believe we need to challenge this perception, starting in our own lives. We cannot rely on others to validate us, to take care of us and fulfil our every need. Self-care, in whatever form it takes, is about learning to meet your own needs, to offer yourself comfort, to find strength and contentment internally rather than depending on others granting it to us.

Take time to look out for yourself. Do things that make you happy. Be selfish. Be vain. Give yourself the attention you deserve.

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