Navigating Self-Care & Growth

I often hear about self-care, love, and growth being discussed among my friends and on social media platforms like Tik Tok and Instagram. Although growing up I thought I understood what self-care and growth are, it rarely occurred to me what they actually looked like, or what it takes to grow. I often thought about growth as something that would just happen over time and as I grew up, which is true, but I also have realized that sometimes it takes a little bit more than just that.

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Through times in my life when I’ve felt lost, had smaller circles of friends, and periods where I’ve felt isolated, I feel I’ve gained some perspective on how to take care of my mental and physical health.

Firstly, I’ve learned that moving your body in a way that makes you happy and feel good, is one of the best forms of therapy. Finding a form of exercise as an outlet for anger, frustration, sadness, joy, and all types of emotions can be really beneficial! Sometimes this is a walk, run, lift, or swim for me; it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you’re getting up and getting after it in some way.

I have also recently started reading for joy, not just for school or what is required of me, and it has allowed me time away from screens and the instant, but shallow, satisfaction I get from social media. Similarly, music has always been something I find very meaningful, and a great outlet. I love to explore different genres and artists, finding the perfect songs or albums for whatever mood or time in my life I may find myself in.

I also love a good self-care, spa type of day where I can take a long shower or bath (but not too long – save water!), do a facemask, and relax my body. This helps me feel like I’m getting somewhat of a reset, giving me space to reflect and unwind.

I occasionally do some journaling to get my feelings out on paper or just talk about what’s going on in my life. I’ve learned that being your own comfort and best friend is a good thing! The ability to be honest and open with yourself about the hardships and realities of life can be important, and it allows you to vent in a comfortable, safe manner.

Although these are small forms of taking time and caring for myself, they allow me to clear my head, learn things about my mind and body, and overall take time away from other stressors like school, work, and life as a whole (because let’s admit it, life is hard!).

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As much as it is important to learn to be alone and grow while doing so, relationships with friends, family, and loved ones are also critical for taking care of your mind and body.

Relational Cultural Theory highlights how we grow through and toward relationships, and that growth-fostering relationships are the source of meaning and empowerment.

Growth-fostering relationships are relationships with people who allow you to feel comfortable in vulnerable spaces, establish respectful boundaries, and make you feel a greater sense of zest or energy, and worth. Relationships that allow space for comfort, growth, and support are some of the most beneficial, and in my opinion, the most important. Finding people who support you in this manner, whether this is your biological family, friends, or other kinship and chosen-family networks, can greatly contribute to your experience of life and growth!

All that being said, make sure you take time to care for yourself today. Whether that be eating something yummy, exercising, spending time with loved ones, or having a DIY spa day, I hope you enjoy it!

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