Welcome Today I’m going to be giving some background information and personal insight on the topic of self-care. Self-care is a very popular topic in the field of mental health right now and I believe it would be beneficial for everyone to look into what self-care is, is not, why it’s important, and some examples of self-care . Today’s recipe is Dark Chocolate Cupcakes with Sweet Orange Buttercream and they are delicious and adorable for the upcoming fall season! Thanks for joining me. Note-I may receive a small compensation from advertisers or affiliate links found on this post. For further information, please see my terms and disclosure page.
Food For Thought I am going to make my disclaimer right up front–I am not a trained health professional and do not have any authority to provide you with advice regarding your mental or physical health. What I can share are my personal experiences and things that have worked for me personally and resources I have used for information purposes. If you, or a loved one, are in need of treatment for health issues, please see a licensed professional.
So let’s talk about the term “self care.” I’m going to share first what self-care is NOT. Self-care is not shirking responsibilities of family or work. Self-care is not always considering one’s own needs and wants before others. Self-care is not selfish behaviors that prevent someone from fulfilling their called duties as a servant for the Lord. Self-care is not laziness, but actually a very active approach to meeting one’s own health needs. Finally, self-care is not SELFISH, meaning there is no reason to feel guilty for taking some time for yourself to manage stress and emotions, rest and recover, and getting your mind in the right place to perform the duties and services you are responsible for completing.
Now that we know what self-care is not, what exactly is it? There are many definitions in the health and medical world for self-care and the term covers several categories. Insurance companies and health professionals are supporters of self-care because it is considered “preventative medicine” and can reduce stress and the illnesses that result from not managing one’s stress. The most straightforward definition I found was on Blessings Manifesting’s website: “Self Care: Actions you perform to take care of your physical, emotional, and mental needs.” Fort Garry Women’s Resource Center provides another good definition: “Self care is care provided ‘for you, by you.’ It’s about identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them. It is taking the time to do some of the activities that nurture you. Self care is about taking proper care of yourself and treating yourself as kindly as you treat others.” As I mentioned before, there are different categories that fall under the self-care umbrella. These include physical, emotional, personal, social, spiritual, and practical areas of your life. What is necessary for all of this to work is balance. You can meet the needs of others by insuring that you have met your own needs in each of these categories. An example of a physical need is sleep. Our bodies require it to function properly, but it is up to ourselves to see that we have enough of it to do the rest of our daily chores. I’m sure we can all identify with those times in life when we seem to be burning the candle at both ends, trying to cram in more productivity, only to find ourselves performing our jobs poorly or unable to perform them at all. So yes, getting adequate sleep is a type of self-care and action steps to get you there may be to have a set bed time, limit or eliminate caffeine after 2 pm, remove electronics from your bedroom, or get a white noise machine. Personally, I discovered self-care while working to treat my depression and anxiety without medications. I was looking for ways to improve the emotional, personal, and social aspects of my life with self-care. These would include activities that help me process emotions and feelings in a healthy and realistic way, setting boundaries in relationships, learning to love myself–flaws and all, and self-betterment through hobbies, goals, and education. Just getting to the point in life where I can admit I need self-care is a big improvement. I was one of many who spent my earlier adult life thinking that I should always put others and their demands before my own, even if it meant sacrificing my own health.
As you can probably see now, self-care is important for the big picture. When I take care of myself, I am better able to take care of those around me. When my physical, emotional, personal, and spiritual needs are met, I can meet the needs of others. Whichever aspect of self-care I am focusing on, I am communicating to my body and mind, “Hey, I’m taking care of you today,” and it has a significant impact on my overall health. And the activities do not have to take lots of time…heaven knows we are all busy already! A lot of them are what I call the “simple pleasures” of life: going for a walk in nature, writing in my journal, reading an uplifting book, taking a bubble bath, taking an afternoon nap. And some days I need different types of self-care, depending on what is happening in my life, but the important part is being aware of what I need. That’s what makes self-care personal, and not prescriptive. I encourage everyone to start self-care immediately, if you do not already do so. You will feel the benefits, but so will those around you, when you have more energy, more patience, and better physical health.
If you would like to see some lists for suggested self-care activities, I have a Pinterest board titled Mental Health that has several options to choose from. Many of the lists are quite comprehensive and the idea is that you find activities that work for YOU!
Today’s Scriptures There is a spiritual component to self-care. This area encompasses one’s beliefs, prayers, religious community, morals, and values. It is a key piece to balance with the other areas and one might even say this area gets top priority. But does God want us to do self-care? I think God is very aware that we need to take care of our earthly bodies, in various ways, so we can accomplish all He has planned for us. These verses help me accept self-care as a need in my life.
3 John 2 “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”
Ephesians 5:29 “After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church–”
Exodus 18:17-18 “Moses’ father-in-law replied, ‘What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.”
Today’s Prayer My Dear Heavenly Father, I ask that we learn how to take better care of ourselves, so that we may take better care of each other and do the work You have set us out to do. Lord, I ask that we not be selfish in our actions, but truly seek to better our health–physical, mental, and spiritual. Please guide us in these acts so that we may be doing Your will and not our own. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Today’s Recipe One of my favorite self care lists is “77 Self Care Ideas for Creatives” by Ashley Boudin on her website. I enjoy so many of the activities on this list–they’re just so positive and uplifting! Today’s recipe is going to be “good for you,” ha, ha, because it involves FOUR items from the list! On Ashley’s list, #19 is “Bake it up” and that’s exactly what we are going to do today. I know this is not true for everyone, but baking is such a stress reliever for me! Number 45 is “Eat dark chocolate” and number 46 is “Get a cupcake.” Well, then, let us make some dark chocolate cupcakes…two birds, one stone, right? Finally, #52 says to “fill your life with color to energize.” Orange is one of the most energetic colors I can think of, so we’re going to top off our cupcakes with sweet orange buttercream. Bonus–I love the flavor combination of dark chocolate and orange. Oh, yum! I also had a little fun making a display for my cupcakes this week, exercising my creative skills, so I’ve included a couple pictures of that as well. Enjoy!Dark Chocolate Cupcakes (makes 2 1/2 dozen)
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup strong brewed coffee (this is what enhances the “dark” chocolate flavor)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in tins to make 36 cupcakes* In large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and next 5 ingredients. In separate bowl stir together milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly add liquid ingredients to dry with mixer running at medium speed. When ingredients are fully combined, add coffee with mixer running at low speed. Place cake batter in each paper-lined tin to about 3/4 full** Bake for 20-24 minutes. Remove pans from oven and place on wire racks to cool 10 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and allow to completely cool before frosting.
- *Everyone loves cute cupcake papers, but if you make a dark cake, most likely no one will be able to see the cute design on the paper. A great tip is to bake them in plain papers and then place the whole cupcake inside a decorative paper to display or serve.
- **I use a quarter cup measure to scoop my batter into the tins which is just right for the size of my muffin cups.
Sweet Orange Buttercream-single batch (I made a double batch of this recipe to do my 2 1/2 dozen cupcakes. When making decorative swirls on cupcakes, it will require more icing.)
- 2 sticks butter, softened
- 4 cups powdered sugar
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp orange extract
- 10 drops yellow liquid food color
- 3 drops red liquid food color
- Dark chocolate bar, grated (optional)
- Zest of one orange (optional)
- With electric mixer beat butter and sugar until creamy. Add in cream, orange extract, and food coloring; continuing to beat until fluffy. When cupcakes are completely cool, you can frost with this buttercream. I used a tool from Wilton called the Dessert Decorator Pro to make me fancy swirls on top. I LOVE this tool! I will NEVER go back to piping bags again. If interested, purchase through this link (verified 9/21/17 at 1:05 pm, CDT): Finally, I garnished the tops of the cupcakes with a blend of grated dark chocolate and orange zest, both make possible with my original microplane grater. It is a versatile and valuable tool in my kitchen. If interested, you can purchase through this link (verified 9/21/17 at 1:35 pm, CDT):
Here are a couple of the pictures from me having a little fun with cupcake displays. If you’d like to see more on displaying baked goods, check out my Pinterest board, Food Craft.