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beyond the bubble bath: taking self-care to a deeper level

April 22, 2021

These days, the value of self-care cannot be understated. But all too often, the practice of taking bubble baths, journaling, and meditation can leave us wanting for more. That’s why it’s important to take a more personalized and deeper approach to self-care that can serve you not just now, but well into the future. Here are a few off-the-beaten-path ideas to get you started.

Practice Saying No

Setting boundaries with ourselves and others is an often-overlooked but essential part of self-care and prioritizing what’s most important. If you’re not quite sure where a boundary should be, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does this make me feel appreciated?
  • Does this make me feel valued?
  • Does this make me feel respected?
  • Does this line up with my values?

If you answered “no” to any of those questions, take a moment to consider whether the request, task, invitation, or demand is something that you actually need to do, versus something that you’re doing out of habit or obligation. Beyond the daily responsibilities at work and at home, can you take some time to consider all the extra things that might be weighing you down, keeping you in a rut, or reinforcing a cycle of low self-prioritization?

Saying “no” to things you always say “yes” to can be hard. Really hard. So start with things that are smaller, or lower risk, and build from there—maybe saying no to a coffee date this weekend when you’d rather stay home and read, or saying no to an extra task at work that can just as easily be handled by a coworker. Build your confidence with the small stuff, so you can gradually say no to the bigger, more difficult things down the road.

Feel All Your Feelings—Yes, Even the “Bad” Ones

Fostering a positive mindset is a wonderful thing, but if pushing for constant positivity as part of your self-care practice is leaving you feeling, well, not positive at all, you’re not alone. It’s natural to be drawn toward happiness and positivity, but denying yourself the full spectrum of emotions may do more harm than good.

Rather than pushing negative emotions away or stuffing them down, try to cultivate a mindset of non-judgmental curiosity about all of those “bad” feelings. Allow them to be there and notice what changes. As you do, consider the following:

  • What are these emotions trying to tell you about what’s happening in your life?
  • What do your emotions need you to know about your emotional, physical, social, or spiritual health?
  • Is there anything useful you can gain by honoring the darker side of your emotional world?

If getting into your feelings on your own is a scary prospect, call on a trusted friend or therapist who can help hold space for you to process what is going on.

Give Yourself Permission to Turn Off for a Day

We pride ourselves on our identities as professionals, spouses, friends, community members, athletes, activists, and leaders. These are essential and vibrant parts of who we are. But in the rush of life, it’s easy to get wrapped up in these identities, so much so that it can be hard to turn it all off and just… be.

Choose a day (or even just a few hours) when you can take some space and shed some—or all—of the burden of your identities. Allow yourself to simply be. Try not to read any books, articles, or journals related to your profession. Don’t use your spare hours planning that extra special family vacation, or the next community event. Take space to turn off the parts of your identity that make demands of you, and turn on the part of yourself that is open, curious, and free.

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for self-care, and there are many options to chose from. Ultimately, the way you care for yourself should be as unique as you are. Bringing mindfulness to your self-care practice can help you foster a more consistent, life-enhancing routine that will serve you positively for years to come.


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