Self-care hasn't always come naturally to me.
It used to be something I only thought about in moments of crisis, like after a breakup, or in the aftermath of a huge fight with a close friend.
For awhile, I just didn't consider self-care to be a priority in my life. In my mind, a person should only think about taking care of herself in moments when she absolutely "needed" to be taken care of.
Of course, I've since come to learn that self-care is not just something a person might need to engage in whenever life gets rough. Rather, it's a mindset to adopt that puts you on a path to a healthier lifestyle.
As much as the adult in me doesn't want to admit it, I know, deep down, I never would have properly learned how to take care of myself if it weren't for my mom.
She taught me self-care isn't selfish, and you can only be the best version of yourself if you accept this as a real and universal truth.
In honor of Mother's Day this weekend, here are five crucial things I learned about self-care from my wonderful mother:
1. It's OK to stay in on a Friday or Saturday night.
I've always been a pretty introverted person. But, when you're trudging through your teen years and trying to maintain some semblance of a social life, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking every weekend needs to totally blow your mind.
As a person who genuinely prefers a quiet night on the couch to recharge, in lieu of an all-night rager, I often forced myself to go to parties when I was younger, even though I knew it wasn't what I really wanted to do with my night.
But my mom was, and still is, practically telepathic when it comes to our relationship. She always knew when I didn't actually want to do something, and she's never been afraid to point it out to me.
If she hadn't always been there to welcomingly pat that spot on the couch next to her, I'd probably still have trouble being true to myself about what I genuinely care to do with my free time.
2. Find security in your own identity as a woman, not as your man's SO.
My mom taught me there's nothing more important than staying true to myself and my evolving identity as a woman.
Now, of course, she doesn't discourage me from dating in general. But, she's always been keen to remind me that achieving my personal goals should come before satisfying any man who enters my life.
She's taught me to never hesitate taking some alone time if I ever feel like I need it. And, perhaps more importantly, she's always reassured me alone time doesn't mean anything is wrong with the relationship.
Humans are humans, and sometimes, we just need to be alone.
3. Petting and cuddling with a cat solves all problems.
I know there's some dog people out there who wouldn't necessarily agree with me, but you guys get the point.
Sometimes, when you're feeling super overwhelmed, all you can really do is bury your head into your little fur baby's tummy and think about how much you fucking love them.
So, when all else fails, my mom taught me to find my cat and love that little fur ball until he squirms out of my arms.
4. Be honest with yourself about what you're capable of.
Setting goals is obviously important, but what can be even more crucial is maintaining a brutal honesty with yourself about what you can realistically achieve.
My mom has, unfortunately, been smoking cigarettes since she was about 16 years old.
On the bright side, though, she recently started to put genuine effort into quitting.
Now, my mom is the realest of all realists, so she didn't just try to quit cold turkey one day. She's been slowly detaching herself from cigarettes, and she went into the whole experience with the full knowledge of how truly difficult this was going to be for her.
So, it might seem slightly counterintuitive, but a big part of self-care is listening to your body and knowing your limits. I'm extremely grateful to have learned these lessons from my mom.
5. Feel what you're feeling, and never apologize for it.
OK, so my mom is sensitive AF, which means I came out of her womb also sensitive AF.
I spent a lot of my time growing up thinking I needed to hide my emotions, or at least restrain them in a lot of ways in order to not be a burden to others.
However, my mom assured me there is nothing wrong at all with being a sensitive woman. If you need to do it, crying is OK. If you need to talk about your feelings, just let it out, whether it's with a friend, in a journal entry or directly with her.
She's a perfect example of a woman who has never apologized for being who she is, and I'll always look up to her for that.