October 10, 2017

by Katy Ray 

Self-care: it’s a concept that’s so unfamiliar to so many, yet such an integral part of a healthy, happy relationship. All too often, self-care is considered synonymous with selfishness, which is frowned upon in relationships; however, we’re here to debunk that myth and remind you that when you’re your best self, your relationship thrives.

First, let’s really clarify what we mean when we say “self-care.” Self-care, in our terms, means activities, practices, and hopefully habits that we engage in to reduce stress, maintain our mental health, and focus on our own well-being. As you can imagine, self-care is extremely beneficial to our marriages, partnerships, and connections with other human beings—so why is it that many of us ignore or rarely engage in this important practice?

Maybe we just don’t know what self-care looks like.

In order to engage in self-care, you have to know yourself. What are your needs? What is your body experiencing? What is your mind feeling? It’s all too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day functions of running a household, maintaining a marriage, and juggling the many professional responsibilities you have. Taking a moment to check in with yourself, your body, and your mind can be a daunting task for the average over-achiever or over-stressed, underpaid person; nevertheless, knowing your needs is the first step to creating a plan for self-care. 

Some common ways to unwind include taking a bath or heading out to the spa, reading a book that you’ve had on your bedside table for awhile, taking a walk in the woods or a hike at a nearby trail, exercising, writing, and my all time favorite: mindfulness meditation. This list is far from extensive. Only you can determine what self-care looks like for you. Take the time to consider your needs, create a self-care plan, and engage in healthy coping mechanisms; doing so can radically change your stress level, and discourage you from engaging in unhealthy coping mechanisms, like drug abuse, risky encounters, or excessive alcohol consumption, which can often have a negative impact on you and your partnership.

Maybe we’re conditioned to believe that love means focusing solely on the other person.

Most people who enter into a relationship do so with the intention of being a good partner. It’s easy to lose our sense of individuality when we’re socially conditioned to believe that being a good partner means focusing solely on the other person, but that’s just not reality, and it’s not sustainable for the long term. Self-care is not the same as selfishness. The goal isn’t to focus solely on our needs first, but rather, to communicate openly with our partner about time we need to take to destress and manage our emotional overload, knowing that when we manage our stress, we’re less likely to take it out on our partner. This work is critical for the viability of the relationship. 

 It’s time to reclaim “me time” in the name of building a stronger foundation for our relationships. When we focus on our needs and ensure we are operating at our strongest capacity, then we can more adequately support our partners when they’re experiencing stress and loss. When we focus on ourselves, it’s easier to build a quality bond with another individual. Remember: being at our best means that we can give our partner our best.

Maybe we’re afraid to take time for ourselves because we feel like we’re unworthy.

We’ve all been there: maybe we’re not at the weight we’d like, or maybe we lost a job and aren’t making the income we want. Maybe we’ve internalized our unworthiness from a past relationship. Whatever’s got you down, we all know it can feel next to impossible to take care of yourself when you don’t feel like you deserve it.

But that kind of thinking is for the birds. You are worthy. You have a purpose, and only you can define and clarify what that purpose is.

You are in the driver’s seat, and your mind, body, and soul are all are yours to own and operate. When you treat them well, they will in turn treat you well. And if you’re experiencing deep depression or anxiety, talk to someone. When your car needs a tune up, you don’t think twice about seeing a mechanic. How much more important is your human vessel? Getting support is the first step toward achieving a happier, healthier life, which you can then share with your partner.

So starting today, it’s time to reclaim your worthiness and embrace the fullness of you, all in the name of self-care. Take care of you, and the rest will fall into place.