Being “Being authentic”, having “Healthy boundaries” and “Practicing self-care” are three phrases that I honestly never really heard until two years ago.

While I agree with all of them, after reading and hearing those phrases so many times during my divorce I joked with a friend that if I read or heard those words again, I was going to pull my hair out.

Instead of saying “boundaries”, I was going to use “state lines”. Rather than saying “authentic”, I was going to say “genuine or REAL”. As an alternative to saying “self-care”, I was going to simply say “taking care of myself”.
“I am taking care of myself by practicing healthy state lines which allows me to be genuine and REAL!”

The irritation for those three phrases has subsided and I now actually use them in my everyday vocabulary. I still think that saying, “You should practice healthy state lines while respecting others”, it has a fun ring to it, but no one knows what I am referring to. In all seriousness, I honestly do feel it is very important to have healthy boundaries, to be authentic and practice self-care.

If you look at trending personal growth hashtags on Instagram you will see:
• #boundaries
• #authenticself
• #youdoyou
• #selfcare

Photos that include #selfcare on Instagram are often of people getting massages, sitting in a yoga pose or staring at a beautiful nature scene. However, self-care is not a new concept, and it certainly is not only inclusive of days at the spa, bubble baths and going on a nature hike alone.
“History of Self-Care…”

Prior to the 20th century, self-care was seen within the societal expectations highly linked with affluence and privilege. In some cases, standards such as hygiene, diet, clothing and education were forced on others through colonialism of Western society. One of the first self-care/self-help books was published in 1859 by Samuel Smiles, simply titled, “Self-Help”.

In the early 20th century, self-care was used predominately by physicians on their patients who were mentally or chronically ill. The notion was that teaching these patients to foster healthy habits would offer a sense of autonomy over their heavily regulated lives.

In the 80’s Tony Robbins began marketing himself as a peak performance coach and motivational speaker offering presentations with “self-help” and “positive thinking” themes. As a society we began to measure our “self-care” with words like, productivity, efficiency and work-life balance.

In the 90’s we were introduced to Chicken Soup for the Soul. If you aren’t familiar with these series of books, they offer inspirational true stories of normal people lives’ and the ability those stories have on changing other’s perspective on certain topics.
“Self-Care Tips”

In the last 5 years, the term “self-care” has been seen on social media, websites, magazines, podcasts and blogs developing guides and providing tips on the best ways to practice it. They tell us it is ok to take time and care for yourself before caring for the rest of the world. They share self-care tips such as:
• Get enough sleep each night
Exercise daily or do yoga
• Meditate
• Eat a healthy diet
• Saying no is ok
• Get outside more
• Get more organized at home and at work
• Unplug from social media
• The list goes on…

These viewpoints are telling us that taking the time to take care of ourselves is vital, especially if you want to take care of anyone and anything else. But missing from these narratives is information about including others in your self-care practices or the fact that some people get anxious when they are trying to follow the top 10 list of things that are “traditionally” seen as self-care, because they don’t seem natural or stress relieving for them.

So, what really is this word and this concept that have been around so long, yet has a trending hashtag these days?
Self-care is not something you can just go purchase at a store; it includes a variety of activities tailored for each one of us. True self-care is figuring out what resonates with you, honoring what your needs are and working on those needs within your state lines…I mean within your boundaries.
There also is nothing that says self-care must be done all alone. Sure, self-care is all about yourself, but friends can be a huge part of your self-care strategy.

"We usually think about self-care as alone time, but relationships play a huge part in our mental wellbeing," says Lora DiFranco, creator of Self-Care Master Plan. "Partly in response to the digital age that we live in, people are looking for IRL human connection. I’ve seen a big increase in structured friend time through book clubs, low-key dinner parties, and home spa nights." If being around friends causes your stress level to decrease, you feel reenergized and relaxed with them, why not call Alex and get it on the schedule?

“Create Your Own Self-Care Recipe…”
Just as we get to create our own recipe for creating a fulfilled, happy, joyful life that we don’t want to escape from [but one that also prepares us for the bumps in the road]; you also get to create your own recipe for self-care. That is why there are a million different books, blogs, and podcasts on how to practice self-care. They are tools that offer tips and suggestions and allow you to pick and choose what works for you.
• If massages make you anxious, don’t get them.

• If you are allergic to every tree in nature and hiking makes you break out in hives, don’t hike.

• If you start a gratitude journal and realize you keep making a grocery list, then put the pen down.

• If you tried meditating and every time you say “Om” you immediately hear Cookie Monster saying, “Om nom nom nom nom”, maybe skip the meditation.

Find things that work for you. If you are searching the internet for tips and after trying them you are more anxious, stop doing them.

Self-care is not about self-improvement, it is not about “fixing” yourself because you are broken. It is more about taking care of yourself in whatever way feels right to you. Doing things that evoke a sense of peace inside of you. Things that “re-set” you in a sense, helping you to feel more joyful about your life as a whole.

I’m not going to provide you with the “Top 10 Ways To Practice Self-Care” because my list would be my personal self-care recipe and would not benefit you, you need to create your own delicious pizza with your own personal toppings.

To state it as short and sweet as I can (1143 words later) self-care is you creating your recipe of taking care of yourself in a way that preserves and improves your own mental, physical and spiritual health. That is it!

Remember, You Got This!

Author's Bio: 

I am a certified life coach, with a degree in psychology that formed my foundation for wanting to help others.

My passion is to help individuals who are experiencing grief, stress or feel stuck and are having trouble moving forward in life while taking care of themselves along the way, building strength and finding balance.

I was married for 14 years, together with my ex (who was my high school sweetheart) for 23 years. I lost my sense of self, putting others before me forgetting that I was important to.

I often felt like I was running around in circles, taking steps forward and then backwards and would never getting to that finish line. I was exhausted physically and emotionally and didn’t know how to stop the cycle. Through a great deal of personal work and support, I pushed myself outside of my comfort zone (and still push myself).

I have suffered from eating disorders, body dysmorphia, panic attacks, autoimmune disorders and low self-esteem.

I have experienced significant life changes including loss, fear, disappointment, abuse, betrayal, sadness, abandonment, pain, suffering anger and rage. Having learned so many valuable lessons along the way, once looking at them as a victim, but changing my mindset to see myself as a student of life, learning.

I believe that no matter our race, gender, religion, physical ability, political affiliation and socioeconomic status, we must take care of ourselves. Self-care is not selfish and to be the best partner, spouse, parent, employee, employer or to be the best YOU…you have to take care of yourself. Put the oxygen on yourself first or you won’t be able to help others.