The Practice of Self-Care

New Yorkers are always on the go, seamlessly moving from the office to after-work events, endlessly searching for the next best restaurant, apartment or gallery opening. The opportunities are endless, leading us to fill our calendars with as many concerts, trips and dates as we can manage. Surrounded by ambition, we never cease to find inspiration from our co-workers, partners and friends who keep us on our toes. In a city where we are always moving to create the absolute best version of ourselves, it can be easy to get lost in the midst of it all – particularly when it comes to practicing presence, gratitude and self-care. The concept of self-care is simple: find something you love and make time to practice it when needed, consciously working it into your daily  life in order to restore and recharge. As a generation that expends an incredible amount of energy interacting, sharing and comparing with others, it is critical for us to take a moment for ourselves.

One of the best parts of self-care is that there is no right way to practice it, and how its carried out depends solely on the desires of the individual doing it. Extroverted people may find that being around people in a social setting is soothing for them, and therefore they seek out opportunities to be in groups, be it volunteering or taking a language or dance class. For others, rest is an important component of self-care, and they ensure to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. I typically find myself most at peace when I am solo, writing in a journal, reading or tuned into an amazing playlist and therefore I carve out at least an hour daily to do so – I can sense a negative change in mood when I go a day without music. I also find joy in working out and pushing myself physically, especially in small group settings led by women – which explains my obsessions with Pop PhysiqueY7 and DanceBody. Whether you value silence and solitude (solo meditation, sleep), group settings (concerts, fitness classes, book clubs), creative forms (music, writing, cooking, learning a language) or a physical expression of yourself (running, dancing, yoga, etc.) make it a priority until it becomes habitual.

Self-care also relates to protecting your mental state by developing and strengthening your boundaries, which includes learning to say yes or no and standing firmly in your decisions. This is particularly relevant in dating where we can get so wrapped up in another individual that we forget to take a step back and look at the situation objectively, asking ourselves the important question: Is this person adding to my life (and vice versa?) Is this dynamic (casual or otherwise) working for me? Do I feel good with this person? Self-care demands that you scan your relationships and make sure you are feeling fulfilled and secure within them. It also means abandoning fear of perception, trusting your instincts, and walking away if you have articulated your needs and they are still not being met. Possessing a strong sense of self and wants/desires is extremely powerful and pretty sexy, too.

It is more important than ever to focus on what drives us as we make our way through this world so we can take our newfound energy and use it to bring selves forward every single day. Know that is is perfectly fine to unplug and allow yourself let yourself go. Be good to yourself and know that you are allowed to change your mind, to run the emotional gamut from ecstatic to depressed and back again. As with all practices, self-care is not about achieving perfection. Find what fuels you, embrace it and trust the process.

Click here for the basics on the self-care movement and how to get started.

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