Self-care isn’t always easy. We have this image in our minds that it’s “treating ourselves”- and it absolutely is sometimes- but that isn’t aaaall self-care is. Sure, face masks and bubble baths are great for relaxation and even mindfulness but self-care also means pushing yourself to get to the gym, making sure you get in all your essential nutrients in and really, really thinking about YOU.

One of the hardest parts of self-care is often reflection because it involves asking the tough questions. How are you really doing? Are you accomplishing your goals? How do you want to improve? What can you start (or stop) doing to be better?

This requires thinking. Reeeallly thinking. Sitting down with no distractions and going through the process. You might not like all of the answers and outcomes that you find. There’s no doubt about it, this is an exercise in openness and vulnerability; not only accepting that you have strengths and weaknesses but acknowledging what actions you can take to live out your potential.

Reflection is a fantastic and crucial aid in self-improvement. These are some of the differences it can make in your life:

Strengthening EI
Your emotional intelligence doesn’t get a whole lot of recognition but it is SO important. Reflection allows you to build your self-awareness and self-regulation. You learn to better understand your emotions (as well as their impact on others) AND you can develop practices to control negative or disruptive emotions.

Learn from Mistakes
It’s not pleasant to reflect on your mistakes. No one enjoys admitting that they were wrong but it is so necessary in moving forward. No one is perfect. If you don’t look back on our mistakes, how can you learn from them? The key is to not dwell on them. Recognize that it happened but focus more on what you can take away from your mistake and how you can move forward to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

Enhance Integrity
Reflection is another way you can look at your values. What truly matters to you deep down? When you are able to align on what values you hold true in your core it is easier to act in accordance with them. It is also a way to hold ourselves accountable. Does everyone always act with integrity or in accordance with their core values? Maybe not. But I’m sure we all strive to and reflecting on times that you could have exercised this more will help ensure it is done in the future.

We often get caught up in the ins and outs of our daily lives. How often do you find yourself just going through the motions to get to the end of the day? Even in times when you feel overwhelmed, taking a step back to reflect is a great way to put things into perspective. How much is this problem really going to affect the grander scheme? Is a mountain being made out of a molehill? In the big picture will this really matter? Answering these questions can help you calm down and also focus on the things that really do make a difference in your life.

Gain Happiness
When you’re reflecting it doesn’t all have to be about the negative things. You should also take time to look at the things you have done right. Where you have found success and the sorts of things that make you happy. The point isn’t to only focus on areas of improvement; it’s okay to give yourself a pat on the back, too. Let’s be real, you deserve it!

This notion that self-care is an indulgence to take part in every once in a while simply isn’t true. Self-care should be ongoing because it’s the little and the big things we can do for ourselves. I can’t stress how important it is to living a healthy life. We often find ourselves putting others first- which is great! But if you’re not at your best then you’re not able to give your best to others either. You have to remember that taking time to reflect and focusing on other forms of self-care isn’t selfish. It’s not always easy but I promise, it is always worth it.