The past year has been extremely tough on many of us, myself included (thanks a lot, COVID-19). But one silver lining is that in eliminating many of life’s distractions or activities that I would use to numb my feelings or avoid dealing with hard-to-cope-with emotions -- like going out with friends, or a trip to the mall to buy things I don’t really need -- the quarantine lifestyle necessitated by the pandemic helped me get in touch with many of the thoughts and feelings I hard buried deep down. And looking back on the past year, I’ve reflected on the self-care recipe I created for myself and the lessons I don’t want to forget as we emerge out of quarantine.
If you’re anything like me, then at one point you probably viewed self-care as bubble baths, mani-pedis or anything pamper/spa related. But, if you’re anything like me, you’ve also learned that self-care is actually made up of SO much more than this simple mainstream definition.
In fact, I’ve learned there are several types of self-care that I realized I already practiced without really identifying them as self-care practices. For example, allowing myself to ball my eyes out instead of holding it in or being kind to myself when it comes to the language I use and the thoughts I allow to float around in my head. The truth is, you can pretty much consider anything you do to help, grow or improve yourself as a form of self-care.
I’m not going to lie, the pandemic was really tough for me at first as I felt a huge wave of sadness wash over me when I realized how many heavy thoughts were living in my head. I didn’t realize how little I truly loved myself. But since the start of the pandemic, I’ve been focusing on myself and allowing myself to explore all of these feelings. It has made me much stronger. I truly am beginning to love myself again.
Exploring the most uncomfortable and darkest of thoughts in my head has become something that I consider to be an imperative part of my quarantine self-care recipe. I like to do this in the bathtub, or when I'm alone in bed. Those are my safe places, where I feel most comfortable to be the most raw version of myself. On top of that, eating nourishing and nutritious food has also become part of my self-care. I’m grateful that I’ve finally started to make healthy food choices a priority, and this is something I’ll continue to make a priority even beyond the pandemic. But it’s also important to feed your own desires, like having that big juicy In-N-Out burger on occasion or getting breakfast from McDonald’s, because it makes you FEEL GOOD! In a nutshell, my self-care consists of managing and exploring both my mental and physical health, as well as allowing myself to do the things that make me feel good, even if they aren’t considered good for me by society’s standards. It’s not anyone’s decision but mine, and I will not feel guilty for doing what makes me HAPPY! Removing guilt from my mind or vocabulary has been a key ingredient in my self-care recipe.
If I could share a few key pieces of self-care advice they would be:
EAT WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY -- don’t feel guilty for eating pizza for breakfast.
Encourage yourself to find a good balance with both your mental and physical health
CRY AS MUCH AS YOU NEED TO -- getting those feelings or thoughts out of your head will help you feel cleansed and ready to conquer whatever life throws at you
Take social media breaks every other week -- Instagram and other apps can be detrimental to our self-esteem when we consume too much of their content
Long story short, my self-care recipe is constantly changing and evolving. I look at it like a fusion dish -- equal parts familiar and unfamiliar to me. The key ingredient to a self-care recipe that works is KINDNESS. Always be kind to yourself. You’re all you have at the end of the day.