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Learning to Be Selfish: A Crash Course in Self-Care

Pressure to be successful. Pressure to excel. Pressure to be generous, to give your time, to pay your rent. Pressure to have experiences that will make you grow. Pressure to be busy. Pressure to share time with the ones you love.

Some days I would think how in the world are we expected to do it all, and more importantly, stay sane simultaneously. It is easy for me to say that I love to be busy and I find (nerdy) satisfaction in a well-planned to-do list. For a long time, however, I made it all work by utilizing great time management and prioritizing others. Of course I was happy, but I definitely did not stop to smell the flowers and enjoy the day.

It wasn’t until I nearly fainted in the streets of downtown Frederick that I realized I had severely neglected my own self-care. I had been so focused on working crazy hours to save money, commuting to DC for my masters program, and in between seeing my loved ones and volunteering at two organizations in town. Blacking out in broad daylight was a huge wake up call: sleep really does matter, there is such a thing as too much coffee, and stopping to take a breath is really good for your short-term and long-term health.

For me, self-care is the key to sanity. Self-care is my time to be selfish. It is the opportunity to take care of myself – body, mind, and soul. The best advice I can give for self-care is that you should do something you genuinely enjoy. It is all about balance. We are complicated creatures and each part of us deserves attention – our health, our creativity, our passions, etc. Here are some lessons I’ve learned since my wake up call.

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Find one thing every day to look forward to

It is really easy to get caught up in day-to-day routines where everything becomes mundane and repetitive. Coming from someone who was glued to her planner for years on end, I kept my spirits high everyday by ensuring that I had at least one thing to look forward to everyday. Sometimes these things are silly, sometimes they were more serious. Whether it was making a date with my girlfriends, or treating myself to my favorite smoothie or sweet treat, or watching that episode of Pretty Little Liars I missed the night before, I always had something that put a little twinkle in my eye. The thought of my favorite cup of coffee always gets me going in the morning. Granted having something to look forward to will not fix any of your problems, but it will give you a moment of relief.

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It is all about balance.

I absolutely love a lush spinach salad, beet juice, and all of those fabulous seeds you can find in your local organic market. But, I can also recognize that chocolate is good for the soul, whether in the form of ice cream, milkshakes, brownies, etc. Further, sometimes I know that nothing can make me feel better than a great yoga class or reaching a new goal in running. Similarly, however, is there anything better than a lazy morning in bed binge watching your favorite show (ahem, Gilmore Girls)? Personally, the key to my self-care is all about balance. I love to live a healthy lifestyle, but indulging in my favorite treats and lazy activities also makes me feel like a million bucks.

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Jackpot: If you can find something to feed your body, something to feed your soul, something to find your mind.

Humans are complicated creatures to say the least. Not only do we need to be nurtured (by others or by ourselves), but we need to be nurtured in multiple ways – body, mind and spirit. I’ve found that I am my happiest and most fulfilled when I give attention to all the parts of me. Depending on your philosophy of life, personality, and hobbies these acts could really be anything ranging from exercise, meditation or skin care to fuel your body, religion, dancing, or music to feed your soul, and reading, documentaries, or dialogues to feed your mind. My perfect jackpot equation? A vinyasa flow class + an afternoon of cooking with lots of color + an indulgent pastry + reading something that makes me think + a night dancing salsa with my boo. <3

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Forgive Yourself.

I find myself feeling guilty for relishing in so much free time. When I tried to explain this guilt to my Ecuadorian boo, he couldn’t quite understand. And then I realized: of course, other cultures, Latinos in particular, are accustomed to enjoying time as it comes. It is more than OK to do what you want when you want. Be lazy. Give yourself some love. Recognize all of the hard work and effort you have put into other compartments of your life, and give yourself a pat on the back by taking care of you.

I’m no expert, but giving myself these little reminders on a daily basis has made the world of difference.

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