There’s this quote from Tracee Ellis Ross that I love: “Self-care is one of the active ways that I love myself. When you can and as you can, in ways that feel loving, make time and space for yourself.”
I’m one of those people that wake up in the morning and ask themselves, “what is the best thing I can do for myself today?” Honestly, it’s one of the corniest things I’ve ever heard myself say. If I had said that three years ago, I’d cringe at myself. But over the years, I’ve made it a point to practice self-care, allowing myself to be my own best friend, paying more attention to the parts of me that needed care and gentleness. This has made a monumental change in my life.
So, every morning, I indulge in my own form of self-care. I show up for myself through my morning routine, which I like to call my Big 6: prayer, meditation, sunlight, movement, journaling, and reading.
Seems like a bit much, but because I wake up at 6AM, it makes for a lovely morning.
My Big 6 is my rock. It sets the tone of love, care, responsibility and discipline I like to carry for the rest of my day. Giving myself care gives me confidence and clarity about myself. It has aided me in creating a safe space within myself that I can retreat to whenever I have feelings of failure or inadequacy.
That way, if the rest of my day goes bad due to forces I can’t control, I have put myself in a strong state first to battle it nonetheless.
Everyone can practice self-care in a way that works for them, but for anyone looking for a good place to start, this is my morning routine:
My daily prayer is said the moment I open my eyes. I talk to God straightaway, expressing deep gratitude and asking Him to bestow a light heart and clear vision upon me for the day. I usually say this prayer by Sonia Choucette:
“Divine spirit within me, move me in the direction of my highest good this day. Move my mind, move my body, move my words, move my emotions. So that I am able to be my best, serve my best and experience the best”
and it has uplifted me greatly. Know that if you use this prayer, it is very powerful and it’s going to transform your life like it has transformed mine. Prayer is my priority in my self-care routine because I deeply value my faith.
I don’t like it very much when I become reactive and become a slave to the fears and anger my mind creates out of self-preservation. So, I meditate to counter that. I love having a clear, reasonable mind and to feel peace and harmony from within my body. Meditation has helped me greatly with achieving this.
Solar power is real. I spend five minutes under the sun between 6AM to 8AM to activate healing cells in my body. Source: Trust me, bro.
Journaling daily has been my way of speaking to myself in a much more intimate way. I write down how I am feeling, what I’ve dreamed the night before, activities I’d like to do for the day and some small goals I’d like to accomplish for the week.
Keeping track of my thoughts and feelings has allowed me to see myself from a different lens. The act of journaling itself has shed light on things I need improving about myself: my mindset, my values and my behavior. The best form of self-care, I believe, is knowing yourself deeper.
Reading is basically brain food. My intellect and insight have expanded greatly due to the love I have for reading. I believe the mind is like a sponge: absorbent and capable of holding a lot more than you think is possible. Reading is a great way to feed your mind the good stuff— and open up your worldview.
Doing exercises through yoga, dance or going to the gym is a must. Our bodies store energy, and that includes negative, stagnant energy that could add to stress and anxiety. This energy needs an avenue to be released. So, yes, a huge part of my self-care appointment is to get my a** up and move.
My everyday morning routine basically covers all health aspects in the most subtle way: mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. I do have days where I find it difficult, where I have to drag myself out of bed. But it’s those kinds of days when I make sure I really push myself.
The core principle of my self-care is in self-discipline. Honestly, I wish I could tell you that doing my morning routine is easy, but it honestly takes a whole lot of will, and requires a sense of love and obligation to myself, to be truly dedicated to it.
Remembering that my well-being is my responsibility is how I’ve learned this self-discipline.
Other than my morning routine, I also practice these forms of self-care:
- Taking the time to tidy up and organize my things. I value orderliness, and I believe the state of your space also reflects the state of your mind.
- Sticking to a strict diet. I am cautious of what I put inside my body. Being healthy from the inside-out is vital for me to feel good about myself.
- Choosing the best products for body and facial care. I only invest in products that are organic/natural and that do not contain harmful chemical substances.
- Looking my best no matter the occasion. The saying, ‘to look good is to feel good’ has always resonated with me, which is why I always try to dress well.
- Taking the time everyday to connect with my loved ones. This one needs no explanation.
- Enjoying my downtime. I value my work to heart, therefore I am responsible and proactive. But I value my rest too, so I take time off whenever I need to.
- Saying “No.” Caring for myself is also saying “no” to the things that do not contribute to my well-being. And confidently saying “yes” to the things that nurture it. I believe that choosing the kind of people we surround yourselves with is one of the most responsible forms of self-care too.
Our self-care habits really do define how we love and respect ourselves. Honestly, it took me quite a long while to figure out how to care for myself. Giving myself patience and dedication truly paid off as my life now is moving abundantly with loving harmony.
To find out what form of self-care you need is to take the time to truly connect with yourself. What do you value most about yourself? And how can you show love and care for yourself within those things that you value?
Caring for yourself always starts from within. I believe it’s not about following trends on what others define as a ‘self-care’, but how you define it personally. Learning this about yourself will have a great effect on your life. Taking the time to get to know your heart is the most crucial part, since everything stems from there.
Photos courtesy of Ellen Paola