A couple weeks ago it was national “Self-Care” day. I was in the middle of a crisis and I remember noticing it, and thinking that if anything was an illusion – then a day to take care of myself was certainly it.

Do we even have time for self-care?

What is self-care anyway?

I thought about it for a bit, and realized it’s not that complicated. (maybe self-care experts would think differently?)

Really, it’s just a new way of saying take care of yourself.

Those words, just switched around to sound all fancy-like.

However, upon more reflection I conceded that it was a valid day. Something that I do think is important, but more as a way of life. And while taking a day at the spa, or going on a beautiful weekend retreat isn’t always in the books (or budget), taking time to recharge is something that is crucial for all of us to do on a regular basis.

Here are a few things I realized that I do, that are about taking care of myself. (btw, not adding a category for coffee because that’s just obvious.)

Make Soup. I usually have Mondays off, but lately I’ve been using that day to catch up on some of my freelance work. Combine that with a busy work season and I was feeling stretched very thin. This week I was all caught up, and I decided that I was going to have a wonderful “me” day. So, I made soup. I was so happy. I love the process and it also provides me with some leftovers for the week. I realized, that soup is self-care for me. A big old pot of vegetable and broth. Soothing my soul. We probably all have something we love to do that brings us joy. Do that! And if it’s soup, stir that pot all day long.

Take mental breaks. Mental breaks are needed in self-care. Even getting away for an hour will help. When my kids were really little and I needed some space, I would go to the dollar store. It was my happy place. I could wander, buy something that would likely break in a day, take deep breaths, then go back home to the crazy and feel like I could make it through the night. Mental breaks are different for everyone. Find out what works for you. Even if it involves a good Netflix binge. (which is my current life-stage mental break strategy)

Go outside. One of the best things for my mental health is going for a walk. If I’m stressed or trying to work through something in my mind, a walk always helps me focus and get fresh perspective. Nature energizes, fresh air cleanses and blue skies calm. If I’m really struggling, I hop in the car and take a drive to the water which is like medicine to my heart. Standing out in a big wide world doesn’t make me feel small, it makes me feel connected and reminded that I’m part of a greater story.

Be with people. Sometimes when we look at our schedules we don’t think we have time to connect with others. Yet, one of the best things you can do in self-care is to build community and relationships with people that encourage you. A couple weeks ago I met up for dinner with two of my dearest friends. It was a busy week and it would have been easy to cancel, but I knew it was important. We met right after work, and I was home by 7:15 (none of us are party animals) but it was the conversation and encouragement that my heart needed. Connecting with others in a life-giving way is an important way to care for yourself. Do life together!

Spend time with God. This is so key for me. Quiet time with God. Sometimes I’ll listen to music, other times I’ll write or prayer journal. Right now I am reading a couple books that inspire me. I can’t take care of myself if I don’t take care of my relationship with God. When I don’t make this a priority nothing works in my life. Self-care is definitely rooted in my faith, and when I find I’m at my lowest it’s usually because I’ve let this slide. I can’t take care of my physical and emotional self if I don’t put my spiritual self first.

Self-care is so important.

We can’t do all of these things, all of the time. Some work better in different seasons and stages of life, and we all have different ways to care for ourselves. Sometimes self-care means getting professional help, and talking to someone who can give you the guidance you need. If that’s where you are at, getting that help is the best way to care for yourself. 

I’ve realized that I’m at my best when I remember that it’s ok for me to care about me. It often feels selfish but the better I am at taking care of me – the better I am for the people in my life that I love.

I feel a little bad that I scoffed at Self-Care day. (Maybe I wouldn’t have been as cynical if EVERYTHING didn’t have a day, but still.)

We need to care for ourselves.

Better us.

Better those around us.

As you care for others,

Remember to care for yourself too.