Why self-care matters
Kate Holowaty, Features Editor
As students we have all had that moment where we question whether or not we are taking the best care of ourselves. Between pulling all-nighters to hand in last minute assignments to living off of takeout and vodka for weeks at a time, it’s a no brainer that we burn out, deal with stress and feel less than the ideal version of ourselves. If any of this sounds familiar keep reading because all of this can be improved with one concept: self-care.
You may have heard the term self-care but never really understood what it meant and it can mean different things to different people.
Tiffany Sostar, an activist, student and self-care workshop facilitator defines self-care as “…an intentional practice of facilitating your own mental, physical, emotional and for spiritual people, spiritual well being.”
Now this might sound a bit abstract but really the concept is simple: do things for yourself that make you truly happy and you will live a happier more fulfilled and balanced life. This can be anything from taking the time to make yourself a tea when you feel stressed, to going for a walk to making yourself an amazing meal. When it comes to self-care there are no rules.
But oftentimes people neglect self-care in their lives. This can happen for a number of reasons but Sostar says that it is often rooted in the sentiment of not wanting to be selfish or self-indulgent. Other things that may be affecting your self-care are money, resources, a lack of awareness and of course time. On Feb. 14 Sostar will be starting a 12-week self-care workshop that will help participants become cognisant of where and why they are missing self-care in their day-to-day lives.
“There are some core practices that are included. Things like becoming aware of what you need or want in any given moment,” says Sostar. “So we will be doing a lot of self-awareness exercises, learning what stands in the way of your self-care.”
The workshop will tackle issues facing people struggling to put themselves first. These issues can include shame about those needs as well as thinking that self-care comes with a hefty price tag. There is also the issue of mental health as it relates to self-care which is extremely important because having that awareness and then knowing the best way to combat it in a positive way can make for a far more enjoyable life.
“We will go through learning what you need, and learning why you’re having some difficulty maybe giving it [self-care] to yourself, learning how you can access self-care even if you don’t have a lot of time or money or physical resources,” explains Sostar.
The group will be meeting once a week to check in with each other about how their self-care process is going. Sitting in a circle and talking about your struggle with self-care may sound intimidating but Sostar believes the group aspect has benefits.
“It’s really helpful to learn how to do self-care in a group because then you recognize you aren’t the only one struggling with it.”
The workshop will also tackle interrelated issues and concepts with a focus on self-compassion.
“…Things like mindfulness, self-awareness, giving yourself permission, forgiving yourself for when you’ve failed at self-care in the past and giving yourself forgiveness for those times when you tried to do self-care and felt selfish for it,” explains Sostar.
So how can you start implementing self-care strategies into your daily life? It can be as simple as breathing with intention.
“Take a minute and breathe into your diaphragm and just feel what that feels like,” says Sostar. “Your breath can actually tell you a lot about your physical state.”
Sostar also gives simple examples like drinking more water and giving yourself permission to stop whatever it is that you’re doing and eat something.
“Those really basic things that you have to do anyway but you can start to do with a little more mindfulness can become the groundwork for really productive self-care practice,” says Sostar.
Another thing you can do to start having better self-care is to start writing. A quickly jotted note in your phone everyday can help you become more aware of how certain activities or events affect your mood and then you can start to see where there might be missing pieces in your life that are stopping you from being satisfied.
Sostar’s passion for self-care derives from her own experience of realizing it was an area in her life that needed serious improvement. And through facilitating other self-care workshops she has seen remarkable changes in people’s lives.
“So many of us spend so much of our lives just kind of curled up tight and not letting ourselves be who we really are, not letting ourselves stretch a bit…like ‘I’m allowed to take up space and breathe and expand,’” says Sostar. “Seeing someone make more space for themselves is really powerful.”
For more information about the self-care workshop visit writinginthemargins.ca.