Temple of Offering promotes treating our planet and people as sacred. This includes treating ourselves and our bodies as sacred. Until fairly recently, I thought self-care wasn’t for me. My mind held images of women getting their nails done, crash dieting, and intense workout regimes. While self-care can include these activities, self-care can encompass much more than this. Self-care reflects the individual; what may be self-care for one person may be toxic, overwhelming, or draining for another. For me, self-care includes having moments of silence throughout the day, spending time with my pets, and going for walks. Self-care is for everyone!
When it comes to self-care, it’s important to be mindful of your energy. Self-care typically leaves you feeling at ease, nourished, and energized. If an activity or interaction leaves you feeling tense or drained, it is likely not meeting your personal self-care needs. In pop-psychology, I hear the terms “introvert” and “extrovert” used frequently to describe personal demeanor; the introvert is typically described as shy and reserved while the extrovert is viewed as outgoing and friendly. These can be misleading stereotypes. While introverts and extroverts can present in this manner, in psychology the terms are used to describe how people feel re-energized. Introverts tend to feel most re-energized when they have time alone to reflect while extroverts tend to feel most re-energized when interacting with others. Introverts are typically more likely to enjoy self-care activities that are not highly stimulating, such as sitting quietly in prayer or meditation, reading, or engaging in art. Extroverts, who tend to seek out stimulation, may practice self-care by listening to music, going to their favorite store, or talking to a friend. Understanding what helps re-energize you is key to self-care.
However, I want to focus upon the concept of Radical Self-Care. Radical self-care moves beyond the day-to-day tasks and the introversion/extroversion continuum. Radical self-care means practicing radical acceptance towards yourself; in other words, accepting yourself completely for who you are. It means viewing yourself through the eyes of a loving, nurturing parent. Rather than penalizing yourself and engaging in negative self-talk, you practice talking to yourself using a language of unconditional love. It sounds cheesy, but it’s how we begin to heal from our previous hurts and traumas. AND, when we practice radical self-care, we find ways to better connect to others, animals, and our planet. Radical self-care allows us to continue to “fill the cups of others” without depleting our own “cup”.
Here are a few steps we can take to practice radical self-care:
- Accept your feelings. ALL your feelings. If you feel sad, acknowledge you are sad. If you feel angry, feel angry. We are quick to tell ourselves we shouldn’t feel the way we feel. When you accept feelings, you move towards peace and/or towards problem-solving. Remind yourself that feelings come and go like guests in our home.
- Treat yourself like a small child (not in a patronizing way). Ask yourself what you need. Are you hungry? Tired? Overstimulated? Once you figure out what you need, just as a loving parent would do for their child, meet your own need. Be patient with yourself.
- Accept and appreciate your body. ALL of it! (More on body positivity to be featured in future blog posts!) Also, reconsider using your body as a bargaining chip… ever told yourself, “I’ll eat once I finish this report” or “I’m not going to the bathroom until I get this spreadsheet done” at work? When we engage in this type of behavior, we are communicating to ourselves that our needs are not as important as our work. We are not our job; our job is a part of us.
- Pay attention to your internal dialog. What are you saying to yourself or about yourself? If you find the word “should” and “must” coming up frequently, you are likely being demanding of yourself.
- Set healthy boundaries for yourself. It’s okay (and healthy) to say “no”. When someone crosses a boundary with you, it’s okay to express this. In fact, helping others understand our personal boundaries can deepen our relationships and build trust.
We hope you find these quick tips helpful. Take time each day to practice radical self-care!
About the blog post author: Kristi is currently serving as the book curator and co-manager at Temple of Offering. Kristi stepped into this role following five years of working as a therapist for children and adolescents with histories of trauma. Kristi is passionate about mental health advocacy, community development, public education, environmentalism, LGBTQ+ advocacy, and decolonization. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Oklahoma in Sociology and Women & Gender Studies. She served as an AmeriCorps member for two years at a non-profit in Oklahoma before attending graduate school at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Kristi has her Masters in Community Counseling. She has served as an adjunct professor of psychology at Baptist University of the Americas in San Antonio and currently conducts Trust Based Relational Intervention (a trauma-informed mode of mental health care) trainings at an inpatient psychiatric hospital in San Antonio. Kristi works to use her background, experiences, and interests to provide an alternative shopping experience for customers and community partners.