Self-care has gone from a tight corner of the personal growth section of the bookstore to an internet-fueled sensation.
If you have an interest in wellness and spend any time on Instagram, you’ve probably been bombarded with messages about self-care that all look pretty similar: intricate yoga postures and green juices and 20-step nighttime routines that might seem, for many of us, a little stressful. Sometimes, this messaging can make self-care look like a full-time job (and keep in mind that, for many of these influencers, it is!).
To some, self-care just comes naturally. These people know what their minds and bodies need to relax, to unwind, and to unpack after a day spent working and interacting with others. But that isn’t the case for everyone, and that is okay! While social media might make it appear that everyone has their personalized self-care routine dialed in, many people struggle with what self-care looks and feels like to them.
This article is all about the idea of “making space” for self-care and mental health. What making space means, how that can look, and a few ways you can integrate it into your life.
What is Self-Care?
If you want to dig into exactly what self-care is and how it relates to stress, we’ve got a whole article for you to get started. If this is the case, give it a read and come right on back.
For a quick overview, self-care is anything we do to nourish ourselves, which is especially important when we feel overwhelmed and burnt out by the stresses of our day-to-day lives. Self-care looks different for everyone. For some it’s all about bubble baths and facemasks, for others it’s about carving out time to make a great cup of coffee in the morning and enjoy it on the porch. It might be an intense workout or a midday nap, taking yourself out to a movie, or staying in to read a book.
What does it Mean to Make Space for Self-Care?
“Making space” for self-care means intentionally creating time in your day to focus on recharging and prioritizing yourself. Most of our days are spent catering to the needs of others, whether it be your job, your children, even the hobbies that you do for fun. At first, “making space” might feel foreign and unfamiliar to you, but it’s a great practice to get into because in order to serve others, you must first serve yourself. First and foremost, you must figure out what self-care space looks like for you.
In order to figure that out, it’s going to take some introspection. We recommend grabbing some pen and paper and taking the time to flesh out your feelings about what self-care means to you. Here are a few helpful prompts to get you started:
When do you feel the most at ease?
When it comes to nailing down your personal self-care preferences, assessing when you feel the most comfortable and relaxed is a great starting point. Do you feel the most relaxed on the couch watching your favorite sport? Laying on the beach? Getting a massage? This is useful insight to better understand yourself.
What activities energize you?
Self-care is about more than resting—for some, stereotypical forms of rest have the opposite effect. You might find that the things that nourish you most require some effort. Whether that’s going for a run, cooking a laborious (and very worth it) meal, seeing your therapist, or playing fetch with your dog in the park, asking yourself what activities energize you is an important component to self-care.
What stresses you out? Where is this stress most/least present in your life?
If you’re having a tough time with this one, ask yourself what stresses you out the most and then look for the opposite of it. For example, if going through your emails at work is the most stressful thing you can think of, maybe doing an outdoor activity where you can’t even think about it is your form of self-care.
Once you’ve figured out what form of self-care best serves you, it’s time to make space for it.
How to Make Space for Self-Care
Now that we know what self-care is, what it means to make space for it, why self-care is important for mental health, and how you can identify ways to perform self-care, it’s time to actually make space for it.
We tend to push self-care aside for a few reasons. We often think we’re too busy to prioritize it, and that if we do prioritize self-care, we won’t have time to deal with the things that are stressing us out and forcing us to look into self-care in the first place. Self-care is a way to calm the mind and create a more stable headspace to tackle our to-do’s. Rather than further complicating your schedule, self-care time might actually create more space in your day because your mind will feel less foggy and can tackle tasks more efficiently.
We call it “making space” because you have to make it; rarely does a time come when we feel like we deserve to step back and care for ourselves. The best way to make space for self-care is by building it into your schedule. Whether you have an alarm set a few evenings a week to remind you to meditate or you incorporate tactics like habit stacking to stay on track and make self-care a consistent part of your life, if there’s a will to do self-care, there’s a way. The key is to look at self-care as a positive thing that you deserve rather than a chore that you have to do.
We at Chuze hope to serve as a resource for your self-care journey. We have plenty of articles about fitness and wellness on our blog; lessons and classes with our virtual membership (click here for a free trial); and plenty of gym locations for you to choose from! Visit us today for a boost in your self-care journey.