Self-Care Is Critical for Thriving
Self-care. Self-love. Selfishness.
I used to believe that these three words were related because I didn’t understand why caring for yourself and loving yourself were important. I spent many years neglecting and harming my body, hating myself, and being miserable as a result. However, through my journey of healing I have found self-care and self-love to be vital not only for existing, but for thriving.
I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety about five years ago. My psychiatrist worked with me to find the right medication to treat them both. Since then, I have been in and out of counseling and this year, I was diagnosed with PTSD due to the abuse and rape I suffered from my ex-fiancé. PTSD has come with its own new challenges apart from my anxiety and depression. It has taken all I am to fight against its persistent symptoms every day. Self-love and self-care have played a huge part in my healing process.
For me, self-care has been a trial and error process. I am still learning the best ways to care for myself with grace and love. People don’t come with “How To” manuals like toys do. Everyone was created in a specific way with different personality types, different trauma, and different experiences. Self-care isn’t a “one size fits all” kind of thing. It takes time and patience.
I have found several ways to care for myself so that I feel safe, recharged, and ready to face a new day or situation. Some of them include:
- Taking a nap
- Reading my Bible
- Coloring in my coloring book with brightly colored markers
- Listening to music
- Taking time on my makeup in the morning
- Painting my nails
- Taking a relaxing bath
- Buying ice cream when I get a craving for it
- Calling my mom and telling her about my day
These are just a few of my favorite ways to care for myself. I am very self-aware and usually know what I need, when I need it. If I have a panic attack or can’t seem to calm down, I try these things until one works. Sometimes it takes time and that can be frustrating, which is why self-care requires so much patience and grace. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to hurt and okay to feel my feelings. I remind myself that my feelings are valid and I am allowed to feel them. I am allowed to be angry with the man who abused and raped me. Sometimes self-care is just letting myself cry about what happened, and sometimes it’s reminding myself that I am worthy of love.
The best advice I can give anyone trying to learn how to love and care for themselves is this: be patient and celebrate little victories. Healing takes time. Reprogramming your brain to think loving thoughts about yourself takes time. So be patient. When you start to put self-care into practice- even in little ways- celebrate that! Do not sell yourself short! You are taking steps and moving forward and doing your best to win over your past. You are a survivor. You are a warrior. You are brave. You survived one of the most painful and damaging things, so cut yourself some slack, you’re doing just fine.