Regardless of who you are, you need to take care of yourself. And that doesn’t only mean having me-days filled with bubble baths, face masks (and not the Covid kind), and mimosas. If anything, it means putting in some effort into your mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. And if you’re a woman, taking care of yourself becomes that much more important. Despite us being in the 21st century, the society and our internalized misogyny often have us overworking ourselves to have it all: great career, being a perfect mom, looking great, being a great wife…
And although my website may make it seem like I’m here to help women have all of that because they need to, that’s not really the point. What matters is finding what matters to you and dedicating yourself to it, while still taking care of yourself and enjoying your life. That comes to you when you learn how to take care of yourself as a woman.
Right! Now that that’s out of the way, ladies, here are 10 ways to take care of yourself.
How to Take Care of Yourself as a Woman
Some would have you believe that self-care days mean eating a bunch of junk food because it makes you feel good temporarily. Now, as someone who’s been craving pancakes 24/7 ever since my third trimester started, I’m not going to preach how you should never have a donut, a pizza, or just a big ol’ bag of Cheetos and a Coke.
My point is this: understanding how to start taking care of yourself means taking care of your body as well. Be grateful to it for what it does for you, and provide it with what it needs. Create healthy eating habits (I promise you, there’s plenty of tasty and healthy food out there) and keep yourself healthy. That way, an occasional “junk day” will neither have some huge consequences, nor make you feel bad.
Another one on the “how to take care of yourself physically” list! While rest is just as important (we’ll get to that as well, I promise), taking good care of your body should also be on your list. A great thing about exercise is that it can be whatever you want it to be. For some, exercise is nothing short of an hour in the gym. For me, it’s 15 minutes of yoga, 10 minutes of skipping rope, or half an hour of gentle biking around the street. Find something that works for you and stick to it. Not only will you be healthier, but you’ll also be filled with happy hormones and look good!
This may also seem counterintuitive because… isn’t taking care of yourself disconnecting and doing nothing? Well, that too. But there’s a fine line between having me-time and going lazy and unmotivated. I am currently 36+ weeks pregnant and recovering from Covid-19, and I could be lying around doing nothing. I really do have plenty of reasons to! And yet, I try to do at least 2 productive things a day, because I know it’s good for me – writing this piece being one.
Just the other day my husband asked me what I need a nice colorful planner for when I’ll be on maternity leave for the rest of the year. The answer is, to be productive, I need to have my to-do tasks written out (and a nice home office to work on them). And I know that being productive is good for me, so when I see those tasks staring at me unfinished, that’s when I’ll set aside an hour or two of my day to finish them.
Sure enough, doing nothing but joyful little rituals would be far easier and more enjoyable. But am I really serving myself if I look back at this year and find I’ve done nothing productive, no matter how small? Whether it’s learning a new skill, redecorating my tiny home, or starting a business, I know that keeping myself even remotely busy is something I’ll be thanking my past self for.
Find Uninterrupted Time for Yourself.
This is something I still occasionally struggle with. My husband has been down with Covid for the last 7 days, so my first week of maternity leave (aka, aaaall the free time) didn’t go as planned. And when he’s around, I often feel the pressure to spend all my time with him.
But I’ve gotten better at allocating time for myself, despite us living together in a small place with no separate rooms. I will put my headphones on and listen to my favorite pregnancy podcasts, read a book, or write for my blog, while he plays a game or watches a documentary I’m not interested in. Finding some time for yourself despite the circumstances is an important skill to have. Even if it’s no longer than half an hour a day, it gives you a breather.
Accept Your Feelings.
Now we’re getting to the tricky part! Despite what Pinterest may be showing you, self-care isn’t just about being forcefully happy and content all the time. If anything, knowing how to take care of yourself emotionally means accepting your feelings and working on changing them if need be. I wrote about this in my detailed anxiety guide – you won’t change sadness to swagger by lighting some candles and playing Cardi B. You need to face those feelings, understand them, and work on whatever is causing them. Once you get there, you’ll be truly satisfied.
Look the Way That Makes You Feel Good.
Just the other day, I found myself wearing all black, along with a metal band t-shirt and some black eye shadow. Was it what the society would want me to look like at 27 and with a kid on the way? Most likely not. But guess what – after months of bed rest and barely going out, it made me feel so good! So make sure you look the way you want to present yourself to the world. Dress into what makes you feel confident. Put on that strong make up, or wear no make up at all. A big part of taking care of yourself is feeling your best – and the way you feel when you look at yourself in the mirror has a lot to do with it.
Don’t Stop Learning.
We are so blessed to live during the time when learning is super easy. Want to learn a new language? Do it for free on Duolingo! (I have German and Danish waiting for me – Covid slowed me down but it ain’t going to stop me!) Want to get educated about the state of the world? There are so many Netflix documentaries to watch! In the last few weeks, I’ve watched the Explained series, Rotten, and many others. There are free apps, Youtube, podcasts, Skillshare and Udemy classes…
And though this may seem like I’m sending you back to school, and you may be wondering how the heck it’s going to help you, trust me, it is. Just like your body needs healthy food to thrive, your mind needs to be fed new things in order to work its best. Plus, you’ll always be a great conversationalist, and should you decide to switch careers, you’ll have a great starting point.
Have a Me-Day.
I did mention that we’re coming to this! Good self-care means knowing when to work on building your best self, and when to tone it down. Wondering how to take care of yourself mentally and emotionally? Go above and beyond to treat yourself at least twice a month. And I mean, really treat yourself. Whether it’s a full body massage, spa day, doing your hair and nails, or buying those shoes you’ve been saving up for. Self-care is also about letting go and allowing yourself to experience the joy of the moment.
This may seem like the same thing, but it’s not. Rest is all about having totally unplanned, unfocused free time. Feel like binging a whole season of your favorite show? Do it! Don’t feel like cooking? Order a takeout and make sure to get the dessert as well! Feel like doing absolutely nothing but scroll social media for an hour watching memes? Or napping all day? Every once in a while, that’s exactly what we need. And don’t let society make you feel bad for not hustling 24/7 – unproductive time is just as important as you learn how to take care of yourself mentally.
Stand up for Yourself.
And finally, one big part of knowing how to take care of yourself as a woman is being able to stand up for yourself. Don’t let anyone look down on you or treat you with disrespect. Show them your worth and stand your ground. Whether it’s annoying family that won’t shut up about a husband and kids, or a coworker talking over you, give them a piece if your mind. Take up space. Be unapologetically you and fight for what you are working so hard for. And if all that fails – don’t hesitate to throw toxic people out of your life, or at least distance yourself from them. Self-care also means knowing who’s good for your mental and emotional wellbeing, and who’s not.