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  • Writer's pictureliz panella

self-care isn't selfish: the story of why + how I learned to prioritize myself

By now, you probably know that most of my brand + content revolves around self-care. What you may not know is that I wasn't always like this. I think back to high school + college when I hardly got my eyebrows done or took care of my skin, let alone had a multistep medical-grade skincare routine or get monthly massages like I do now.

So how did I get into being an avid self-care girl? I didn't have any family members or friends who played a role in developing these habits, I wasn't following skincare professionals or bloggers that "influenced" me, and I really didn't take too much interest in it myself.

In 2017, I developed pretty severe hormonal cystic acne that lasted for many years. I tried some different skincare products + topical medications, but I wasn't properly educated, nor was I getting the best care from my dermatologist. In 2020, after seeing a variety of different providers at the same dermatology practice for over 4 years, one finally suggested that the hormones in my birth control may actually be causing my acne. Around that same time, I remember hearing something on a podcast about the importance of working with your dermatologist to create the right skincare routines for you + your skin.

I was so shocked that in the 4+ years I had been seeing a dermatologist, who had not once asked about my current routine. It was then that I decided this practice + its providers were a waste of my time + money, and that I needed to find a new dermatology office. So I did what every millennial would do: took to my local Facebook group. As a listener of the podcast: The Toast, their Chicago sub-group has been one of the best Chicago resources for anything + everything.

Once I found a provider who was highly recommended by a few "Toasters", I brought in all of my products to have them review, add, eliminate, and change after my initial consult. Turns out, I not only was on a birth control that was known for causing hormonal acne (Mirena IUD), but I was also not using really any of the right skincare products, + not in the right order (thinnest to thickest).

A few months later after switching out my birth control (Kyleena), using medical-grade skincare products, getting on prescription topicals + taking spironolactone medication, my skin completely cleared up + I became obsessed. I never EVER wanted to feel the insecure, ashamed, embarrassed, and self-conscious feelings I had with my cystic acne. Once spas + salons started re-opening in the summer of 2020, I was ready to hit the ground running in my skincare journey.

Rewind back to January 2020, which is also when I started going to therapy for the first time. I initially decided to start after hearing how it has improved so many people's quality of life. At that time, I wasn't going through any major life changes, I felt stable + secure, but I was definitely open to improving my quality of life. In the spirit of New Year's Resolutions, I booked an appointment. After my first session, I knew this therapist was a match for me. I had gone to therapy a little bit in college + tried once post-grad, but it wasn't the right fit. Almost 3 years late + I still see the same therapist :) You can find therapist recommendations for you via psychology today or we met at acme.

When the pandemic hit, I quickly realized how necessary therapy was for my overall mental health + well-being. What I didn't realize is how much personal growth would come from therapy. Going to therapy has been the best decision I could have ever made for myself. Even though I love a good massage or facial, therapy is the ULTIMATE self-care practice, whether it feels like it at the moment or not. Why? Because one thing I've learned, among so many other things, is that I need to prioritize myself in order to be the best version of LIZ: physically, mentally, emotionally, professionally, relationally, financially, etc.

Weekly therapy opened my eyes to a variety of different ways to care for myself. I had taken an interest in different beauty services like nails, brows, & eyelashes in my early 20's, but really only did what I could. Post-college, I was just getting started in my career, living on my own for the first time financially, + trying to adapt to adulthood. However, by 2020, I had built a more successful career for myself + was in a much better spot financially. Because of this, I felt there were more opportunities for me to "treat myself"AKA splurge on services + practices that would allow me time to focus on myself.

The combination of therapy + clearing up my cystic acne was invigorating to kick-start my self-care journey. Monthly massages turned into regular facials, which turned into frequent pedicures, which turned into trying out different aesthetic treatments + injectables, which led to having a full-on spa day a few times per year. Doing things for myself on a regular basis became a non-negotiable.

The bottom line is: taking care of yourself in all capacities leads to a healthier, more fulfilling life. When I do things that make me feel good physically, it helps me mentally. If my mental health is suffering, often times some form of self-care is just the cure.

If you're someone who is wanting to incorporate more self-care into your lifestyle, but want to make sure it makes sense financially, I would recommend downloading the qapital app (use my code my7dm8v2 & get $25 in your account!). This app is $3 / month for the basic membership & helps you save for all of your financial goals in a variety of different automated ways that work for you! If you create a "self-care" goal on the app + have an amount come out with every paycheck, you don't have to even think about it!

Ultimately, there are so many different ways to practice self-care. While I prefer treatments that are more beauty focused, you can still take care of yourself without spending a dime: going for a walk, meditating, taking a bath, listening to a podcast or watching your favorite show, cuddling with your pet, going to bed early, calling a loved one, exercising, etc.

No matter what you do, make sure you take care of yourself FIRST: "you cannot pour from an empty glass".

1 Comment

Allie Bucon
Allie Bucon
Oct 26, 2022

So. Well. Said. Thank you for being the person that encouraged and inspired me to start therapy. ♥️ Best decision ever!

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