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What Does Self-Care Actually Mean? + My Personal Definition

Self-care. We have all heard about it but do we actually know what it means? Merriam-Webster tells us that self-care means to “care for oneself.” While accurate, this doesn’t really tell us much. Oxford Dictionaries does a better job and tells us that self-care is “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.

My personal definition of self-care has evolved over the years. I used to think that self-care was getting manicures, pedicures, and massages. I’ve since learned that it can be so much more. Before I share my personal definition however, I think it’s important to share some of my beliefs about self-care in general.

Belief #1 - I believe everyone has a right to define what self-care means for themselves.
If you search for the term “self-care” online you will find tons of articles, definitions, and resources to support your self-care. That said, I think it’s important for each person to reflect on and identify their own definition. Doing this will help you filter the information you find and best connect with the resources that are right for you.

From My Journal: 3-27-19

I've gone into hiding again. 

I haven’t posted to my blog in a couple of weeks. I got to the end of my simple self-care series and got stuck. Stuck feeling like I had too much to say but not feeling sure of how to say it. Stuck wondering if what I had to say fit the “theme” of my blog. Stuck figuring out how to “best” tell the story that I wanted to share. And so, I kept writing but stopped sharing with you.

This is common for me. To cocoon myself away and allow all of the words to roll around inside of my head or on my journal, but not further. Not out in public. It’s a combination of my introverted nature and perfectionism. I often feel like it has to be “just right” before I can put something out into the world. It can be paralyzing.

I admire people who seem to have such an easy time sharing their deep truths publicly. I am intimately drawn to expressions of authenticity in its many forms. I love and cheer people on when they express a truth. Even and often when that truth doesn’t fit neatly into a box.

Life is messy. 

Trying to figure how to navigate within our bodies on this planet can sometimes feel like trying to avoid land-mines. Feeling unsure of each step can be exhausting.

Much of my living is done inside of my head. I’m always thinking, and sometimes it drives me crazy. The “thinking" often gets in the way of the “doing." Sometimes I’ll trick myself by “learning” something new. But it’s really just me watching other people living their lives and standing in their own truth while mine remains in an unopened box on the sidelines.

I think part of this is because silence has been hard for me lately. I don’t think that I’m trying to avoid anything, but I’m honestly not sure. I just haven’t taken the time to sit in silence and allow the thoughts to take form so they can move. I’ve noticed lots of thinking, but have preferred to distract myself from it. Get lost instead, in someone else’s story.

So, instead of allowing these thoughts to remain safely tucked away in my journal, I thought I would try sharing them with you instead. There is no grand lesson here. Only the act of sharing without filtering. Of practicing vulnerability — that thing I’ve supported my client’s in doing for years. Of embracing the idea of being my own teacher. In this moment. On the page.