Self-care has always been something I laughed at women’s magazines over. It seemed to mean going out on shopping extravaganzas, shelling out hundreds or thousands on spas and holidays, and never actually addressing what you were supposed to be doing. Throwing money at an issue is probably not going to make it go away – if anything it can add to your woes because you then regret spending the money. (This article by Dumpster Dog is one of my favourite on the subject.)
All of the above mentioned “self-care” items certainly have their place. I love me a spa, and I love me a holiday, but I will never view them as necessities for my personal wellbeing. For me they are firmly in the realm of treats, and I work hard to save up for them so that when the credit card is swiped I’m comfortable with the large charge incurred. I’ve heard the argument that money shouldn’t even be considered in the quest for self-care; anyone who tells you that is probably selling something. Don’t listen to them.
However, this entry today is not directly about how self-care and money. No, no. It’s about a new form of taking care of myself that has worked wonders for me. An activity that gives me focus, pride, and self-esteem while costing me very little. It takes an hour, four days a week. I am living for it.
It is….strength training. Not a sexy answer, but it’s getting me a very sexy butt. Weeks ago I stumbled upon a weight training program that looked interesting. I’ve always been strong (by virtue of being the big kid in class) but have had very little actual muscle definition. I was feeling upset and out of control with my body image, which led to being very gloomy in general. I decided to follow this program and see where it led me.
I’ve already seen vast improvements in my lifting capabilities as well as my confidence. It turns out going to the gym and moving heavy shit for a short period of time works wonders on improving my mood while improving my body composition. I stand taller when I’m walking around, I say thank you when I get compliments about weight loss, and I genuinely feel like I am improving myself. If that’s not self-care I don’t know what is.
I highly recommend everyone try it. Not the wussy 3-pound weights that you can lift with your pinky finger. I’m talking about starting with a challenging weight, focusing on your form, and adding small increments of weight to it regularly to keep your muscles working each time. I’m talking about being proud of being strong and getting a real sense of accomplishment each time walking out of the gym.
Now that’s a self-care act I can get behind! Making real improvements to my mental and physical health seem like more genuine attempts at caring for myself than shopping for new jeans (though I may have to do that soon anyways). I’ve never been able to relate to the articles about this subject because they really only gave superficial answers to deeper issues. Going for a pedicure may be helpful to some (I would rather listen to Nickelback on loop for a week than have someone come near my feet) but it is really only a distraction, not a true step in helping yourself.
Below are some tried and tested methods of self-care that have worked wonders for me:
- Weight train. Hard. Get sweaty and grunt aggressively when doing so.
- Go to bed early. I go to bed at 9:30. It’s glorious and allows me to get up early.
- Drink a lot of water throughout the day.
- Talk to people! It’s incredibly cathartic and may help you untangle a problem (try to have one genuine conversation a day that doesn’t revolve around work – this has been very helpful to me.)
- Walk as much as you can. I even read books while walking around my living room. I am actively trying not to sit so much.
- Turn off the lights, pump up the tunes, and have a full on dance party by yourself. My recent rediscovery of 90s band Aqua has helped me curate moves I didn’t even know I had.
- Learn new recipes. I’m not a fan of cooking, so usually have the exact same meals every week. I’m learning some new recipes that are making it a little more interesting in the kitchen.
- Have sex. Masturbate. I don’t care, just have an orgasm.
- Write it out in a journal or blog.
- Have a break from social media for a day.
- Pet a furry animal.
- In the summer: go camping. It is honestly the best way to recharge your batteries. I’ve found it far more effective than going on a resort packaged holiday.
It won’t sell magazines, but I hope this fairly common-sense list can help you in some way.