Putting Your Own (Face) Mask on First:

Engaging in Effective Self-Care

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I recently came across a statistic that revealed that previous generations and generation X women consider self-care a low priority in their lifestyle. I found this a bit disturbing and realized that self-care is primarily marketed to the younger generations and started to wonder if my generation is even aware of how important self-care is! The holiday season is fast approaching, bringing with it time with family, stress, and even stress from time with family, so I thought now would be the perfect time to discuss a crucial tactic for making it to the new year: successfully engaging in self-care. 

The women of generation X and earlier were raised in a society that required them to learn how to take care of others without recognizing individual needs and mental health, so it makes sense that we are less likely to prioritize self-care. Conversely, millennial women and younger have grown up encouraged by capitalism with face masks marketed for children, “treat yourself” culture, and social media validating mental health needs. These societal values have influenced women to have different attitudes towards self-care: one being underutilized and the other driven by superficial practices.

However, there is an attainable middle ground between the two. It starts at recognizing that self care is more than just a face mask or a bubble bath. While it can be tangible, self-care should be practiced holistically as a vehicle to a joyful, mindful, balanced life.

 

Joyful

I like to stop and listen on a regular basis to what my heart wants to do. We all get really busy and it can be hard to find time for what gives you true joy, but sometimes you just have to realize that everything will still be there waiting to get done tomorrow. Joyful self-care requires engaging in gratitude: finding joy in simple things, recognizing sources of awe, and stepping outside of life’s everyday responsibilities. If you leave it for a day, the world won't fall apart.

 

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When you take the time to indulge and do what makes your heart sing, everything else can come so much easier and be more efficiently achieved when you've allowed yourself a break. Identify the things that bring you joy and use them when you feel your mental, physical, or emotional reserves running low. 

Mindful

Mindfulness is something that I try to effectively utilize in all aspects of my life, and that doesn’t exclude self-care. I reflect on my life and my habits to engage in intuitive self-care. I look at what my mind needs, trends in my habits (whether negative or positive), and things I crave—physically and mentally—and ask myself: “What is this telling me I need?”

 

Journaling can be a great way to practice mindful self-care. Having a written archive of your habits, schedules, and thoughts during certain periods of your life allows you to look back and notice struggles or areas to celebrate that  you may not no…

 

Journaling can be a great way to practice mindful self-care. Having a written archive of your habits, schedules, and thoughts during certain periods of your life allows you to look back and notice struggles or areas to celebrate that you may not notice if you didn’t have it documented. This is partially what inspired the JMB Living Journal: balancing day-to-day organization with self-care and mindful practices through intentional journaling.

I also strive to really listen to my body and care for it before things break down. Years back I'd push too hard for months on end until I'd get totally burned out, sick etc. I did this for years and believe that, because it was over such a long period of time, it took a toll.  I think I'm still healing and growing stronger.  One of the most important things for me has been getting not just a "prescribed” amount of sleep, but allowing myself to sleep until I am ready to get up. I can tell a significant strengthening of my immune system from doing just this one thing. I wish I'd started doing it years ago, but before leaving my corporate job, I always felt I had to get up at a certain time. The reality was that I didn't—that was a self-imposed mandate. And truly it took months to let myself let that one go. Self-care will not contribute to growth or be long-lasting and effective if it’s only a physical practice like skin care. Skin care is important, but the self is a holistic entity, so your care should be too.

Balanced

Self care is not just about damage control when you realize you are stressed out or need a break. Taking care of ourselves should result in growth when done correctly. Sometimes growing as an individual requires doing things that are hard. We cannot expect results or full satisfaction from only practicing self-care with a glass of wine and a face mask after a hard day (although sometimes this is exactly what we need). This material enjoyment needs to be balanced with things that will help us achieve the personal growth we need like scheduling a therapy appointment or working out. Self-care needs to be more than just indulging because it can also help us improve our inner state as well. 

 

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Sustaining Self-Care

Women from generations that were raised under an expectation that self care is not a worthy or meaningful investment of their time should take some time to internally evaluate if they believe they deserve to make self care a priority and, if not, where does that belief stem from? Is it a product of your raising or is there an inner voice saying you don’t deserve it? See if you can work through your thoughts and assure yourself that you deserve to take care of yourself and your body and mind deserve to be taken care of.

As we embark on this new journey of developing self-care as a habit, we should note that self care is what we make it. Plants need more than just water to grow and thrive, and we need more than just a bubble bath to take care of ourselves. Self care is a practice that achieves optimal results when it is applied internally and externally. 

I invite you to consider and explore your personal self care needs and use it as a tool for moderation, restoration, and growth. I would love to hear other recommendations for self-care! How do you practice self-care? I’ll be sharing my own favorite practices for our JMB Living self-care week on Instagram and Facebook this week and would love to see yours, too! Share in the comments on this post or post your favorite ways on Facebook or Instagram and tag @JMBLiving so that I can share as well and we can all get inspired with new ideas!

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