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What does self-care mean to you?

Self-care can mean different things to different people. In an attempt to identify different methods of self-care, we partnered with Moondust & Me to ask April Kae’s Instagram community what self-care regimes have brought them closer to self-actualization. While reading this, I’d like you to think about your personal self-care routine, and how it allows you to live your best life.

Where do you find growth and light when the sun has trouble shining?

“My favorite method of self-care is taking time to be silent while doing my daily yoga. The thing about yoga is there isn’t a specific body shape or size required, so it allows me to embrace my body in whatever state it’s currently in. As someone who constantly talks—because of my job—I enjoy the moments where I’m not speaking. Those silent moments with yoga allow me comfort. They allow me to find peace.” –@simplyjj_

“I journal and practice daily gratitude. By writing or speaking three things I’m grateful for, I remind myself to look for the blessings in my life, whether it be how my body serves me, the clean water I have to drink, or the bed I have to sleep in. It reminds me to stay outside of my sorrows and not tend to them when they don’t warrant it. I may have a shitty day or be in a bad mood, but I can be thankful that I have a steady job that provides a steady income, that I have a warm home to return to, and that I have friends that can make me smile.” –@neekie89

“How do I practice self-care? Meditation, the daily repetition of positive affirmations, and (weekly) listing things I’m proud of. Also, sitting still with my thoughts for an hour a day; reassuring and letting myself be still. I go for neighborhood walks around places that make me feel happy. Following my internal guide—leaning toward things that feel right—seems to be working, too.” –@paigetheconqueror

“Given that I’m 17 years old and moving closer to high school graduation, new beginnings and changes are soon to be in my life. Therefore, I practice self-care not by implementing a regimen, but by being free. Sometimes I exercise and focus on giving back to my body by showing it gratitude and good health. I also write poetry express my thoughts, wonders, stresses, anxieties, or excitement. There are no limitations. Also, I talk with God, asking for healing and faith. This is my spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional self-care. And of course, I communicate with my loved ones. To me, it’s important to articulate and release what I’m experiencing with people I love and care about. Lastly, taking a step back and having some “me time”—either in silence or to music.” –@_beautiful_evolution

“I garden with my sister, and while planting and harvesting and watering, we often have impromptu photo shoots and take time to dance with the wind. Sometimes we sing to the moon. We also reconnect with the butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees while thanking them for feeding and pollinating our plants to bless us with their energy.” –@walkerofthesky

“Recently, I think one of my biggest self-care practices is taking responsibility for the results in my life; the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s hard for my ego to do this, but it’s contributed to the most growth thus far.” –@curlyandwild

“As a single mama, I need to claw back bits of time for myself. For me, this starts by being mindful of my energy level and mental state. I’ve learned I can’t be a good parent if I’m stressed out or hopped up on caffeine. Yoga and hiking are my go-to exercises because they bring fresh air and a new perspective on life each time. I take baths of Epsom salts to lower my irritability, muscle cramps, and heart rate. I add in lavender oil or flowers to help me relax even more. I slather myself in coconut oil mixed with essential oils when I get out of the bath so, at the very least, I ain’t ashy.

My sons are also a big part of my self-care routine. Getting in bed with them for movie night and eating snacks (while staying up too late) is important for them—and me—so we all remember perfection isn’t nearly as important as having fun.

The most crucial element of my self-care practice is setting strong boundaries. I’ve learned to kindly tell people when something is unacceptable, then smiling and moving on.” –@aylablue

“I usually do a lot of the self-care rituals like sheet-masks, working out, and baths. But, recently, I started taking sexy ass pictures of myself—including full on nudes—to remember to thank my body for all it does for me. And to remind myself that I am powerful, strong, sexy, and beautiful exactly the way I am right now.” –@keylorleigh

“I used to think self-care only meant face masks and long baths, but I have learned it also means keeping my heart and body in tune. I’ve shifted my diet to one that is full of healthy foods that give me strength and clarity and boost my mood. Additionally, I practice gratitude, especially in times when life is hard and shitty, and it’s easier to let the negativity eclipse the good things that are happening.

I also regularly take breaks from social media when I feel myself start to compare my accomplishments or appearance to others. In these times, I remind myself I’m dope as hell, and my uniqueness is worth celebrating.

I am kind to my body and move it for functionality, health, and happiness as often as possible. I pray. I find time to laugh. And I am constantly learning to protect my precious energy.” –@reece_monet

“I suffer from chronic and severe depression, and when I’m depressed, it’s hard for me to remember the good things. When my partner tells me of happy times, they seem like other people’s memories—not mine. I feel so alone in these moments, like I have no friends, like no one understands. I sink deeper and deeper. Nothing anyone says helps. Everything I hear, I meet with suspicion and resentment.

But, eventually, a moment comes when I begin to listen to myself. I remind myself I’ve been here before, and I’ve gotten myself out. I remind myself there are parts of me depression can’t touch, or trick: it’s the part of me that has kept me alive this long, that has loved me, and held on to hope.

The fog slowly parts. I am strong. I am worthy. I am loved. Again. I am able to see my loved ones’ good intentions. I begin to feel connected to all the millions of people who also live with depression. My heart softens.

This is what happens over and over. I hate this cycle, but I’ve managed to pull myself out every time. I discover and meet myself. Self-care, to me, is self-discovery. It’s about finding myself in different moments—from the little moments when I decline social events in favor of treating myself to a massage, to the bigger moments (projects) like understanding my depression and tending to it.” –@fig.1a