* I’m incredibly honored to be part of Mara and Tamarisk’s blog hop, which features bloggers revealing what our self-care really looks like. Read the amazing and thought-provoking posts here. And be sure to check out Julie’s post tomorrow since she’s up next. 

I’ve had an interesting relationship with self-care. And by interesting I largely mean non-existent. Until I started writing Weightless, I’m not sure that I even knew of the words, let alone deeply understood them.

And, to be honest, I’m much better at recommending you take great care of yourself, then I am at practicing what I preach.

I don’t have a rigid, regular or specific routine. I don’t wake up and meditate. I don’t write morning pages. I don’t have a soothing night-time routine.

Maybe some day I will do these things. (They sound amazing!) But I don’t today.

Still, there are various important ways I care for myself.

For instance, my self-care includes moving my body. I talked a bit about this last week. Exercise is a very important part of self-care for me. It calms and clears my mind and helps me feel strong and powerful.

When I exercise I feel like I can do almost anything in this world. For someone who struggles with self-doubt on a daily basis this is a beautiful gift.

I take classes at my local gym, and, unless I have a pressing deadline, that time is non-negotiable. I treat it with the same seriousness as a phone interview with an expert. These class times get scheduled first, and then I schedule everything else around them.

For a long time I felt guilty for making movement such a big priority in my life. For many years that spot went to schoolwork. But I remind myself that movement gives me the strength to work well. (And I take my work very seriously.)

Simple pleasures are also key for my self-care. Today, I’m able to savor a piece of dark chocolate, a juicy apple and a pile of Cape Cod chips. While this might seem minute, it’s pivotal for me.

That’s because in high school, college and grad school, I didn’t savor anything. I either dieted and thirsted for thinness or I binged and felt disgusting about myself. I was the epitome of all-or-nothing thinking.

So for me to savor foods — especially foods like chocolate and chips — is deeply satisfying and nourishing.

It’s one of the best ways I can take care of myself.

Another big part of my self-care is connecting to my creativity. It inspires and rejuvenates me. I try to spend a few days a month writing poetry and other pieces for my personal blog. I can spend hours listening to music, singing along to the songs and writing my heart out.

And I take the time to read my favorite blogs and books, because I love getting lost in others’ poignant words.

I also protect my time, and I’m picky about how I schedule my days. I mostly engage in activities that nourish me in some way, whether that’s channeling my creativity into different projects, enjoying a bike ride with Brian or taking a walk with my mom.

But what really encapsulates my self-care is a change in mindset. I understand that I have needs and wants and dreams. And I understand that I deserve to have them fulfilled. I deserve to name them, and ask for them, either from myself or others.

I eat certain foods not because I want to change my appearance, but because I want to nourish myself. And I don’t eat sweets or other foods surreptitiously, shoveling them mindlessly into my mouth, without letting myself taste or enjoy them.

When I feel the urge to overeat or eat when I’m not hungry, I consider if food is really what I need or want or maybe it’s something else entirely. And, whatever the need, I give it to myself. This is how I honor myself and my body.

I move my body, not as a punishment for something I ate or as a tool to lose weight, but because it’s good for my soul. It’s good for my head, heart and health. And it’s enjoyable. It’s fun for me.

But, some days, not surprisingly, my self-care is spotty. Some days I run myself ragged, because my workload is pretty steep. Some days I stare at the computer screen all day long, and don’t get out of my chair for hours.

Some days I’m the first person to call myself an “idiot” and slip into self-loathing.

Some days I’m so tired I don’t wash my face before bed. Some days I overeat. Some days, after overeating, I feel the heavy weight of guilt pressing on my chest.

But the difference is that today I’m kinder to myself. The next minute, hour or day, I get back to practicing self-care.

I continue thinking about nurturing myself, whether I feel a palpable guilt or not, whether the weight is heavy or light, whether I feel the suffocating grip of self-loathing or the bright light of self-love.

And all of these negative feelings don’t come as often as they used to.

I know I am a good person who deserves compassion and respect from others. I know that I don’t have to earn these things.

I realize the importance, power and joy of tending to my needs and dreams.

And I realize that I am important and perfectly imperfect.