Someone, somewhere, decided that running yourself ragged was a good idea. That actual living means working the nonstop grind. Where slowing down and checking in with yourself is a sure-fire way to finger-pointing aimed squarely at you, the selfish woman.
Somehow it became the norm to look like you have it all under control. This belief reinforces that one must sacrifice oneself willingly to look after others. Let’s unlearn what we think self-care is. Let’s re-learn how to do self-care well every day.
What Self-Care Looks Like In Action
Self-care reconnects you with yourself. You spend most (if not all) of your time doing for others. The kids, the relationship, the boss, the homework, the soccer team on a Saturday morning…Self-care lets you slow down to a lovely crawling pace just for a moment.
Is the world going to fall apart if you take 15 mins to yourself? The reality is it will not, but more than that, you cannot be ok to support, care for and nurture others when you are quietly falling apart yourself. Connect with yourself and do the things for you that make you feel whole.
Self-care nourishes your body, mind and spirit. What you choose to do for yourself is an individual experience – this is about you. It’s a great way to learn more about what you like and what nourishes you. Whether you make time for running, yoga, a spot of gardening, or lighting your favourite candle while you have your morning coffee. You know you best, and you know what you need. Honour that.
Self-care tops up your cup. Over time, your cup naturally becomes empty from life and all the running around. You are actively taking steps to refill your cup, to replenish your energy.
Life stuff has a cumulative effect, and if you are not recharging eventually, that will come head-on. Take the time to refuel to have the emotional energy to keep going.
Self-care practice allows you time to be with your thoughts and reorganise your internal dialogue
What Self-Care Is Not
Self-care is not being selfish. As women, we love the notion of equating looking after ourselves with being selfish; we love it! It illustrates the idea that we are the carers, the nurturers, the martyrs of the home who give, give and give some more.
It’s so important to put this idea of selfishness on the shelf. It’s not only pretty archaic, but it’s also speaking right to your internal dialogue, telling you that you are not worthy of time.
Self-care should not be this magic once-a-year event on a particularly special occasion. Self-care is not about being showered with gifts and getting a cake, albeit delicious. It’s about putting yourself first, if only for a few minutes a day. And you can do that.
Self-care is not doing tasks or housework! Step away from the vacuum! Cleaning and decluttering have their place, but they are also tasks involved in home maintenance. If you must do this, assess the motivation behind doing these tasks.
Are you doing this because the spare room is a mess, and you have to clean it because no one else will? Or are you reorganising your laundry cupboard because it’s therapeutic to equate a decluttered mind with a decluttered house? The difference is motivation is important.
Self-care is not a one show pony. Self-care doesn’t mean birthdays or Mother’s Day. This means intentionally carving out a moment (or 15) each day for you. Habit-forming can be difficult, and roadblocks change all the time. Consistency is the key to any new good habit, so keep it up!
Be intentional and be creative. These are daily microdoses of top-up. While bigger plans like holidays can be important, we are starting small here.
Create routine. Like anything, consistency is key. Just as that one bowl of salad last week won’t make you healthy, sporadic self-care acts won’t make you feel fulfilled again. Whatever you choose to do as self-care, do it regularly and consistently.
Size does matter. Start small. Small is good. New routines can be tricky, so let’s not go all crazy in leaps and bounds. It’s unsustainable. Let’s not set ourselves up to fail because we have taken on simply too much.
Every act of care is worthwhile. Imagine sitting outside in the morning, the sun on your face and smelling your delicious coffee. Not only does that sound amazing, but it’s small and doable. Find what works for you and do it, no matter how simple it seems.
Actively create time, don’t expect time to pop up. Again, this is intentional. Actively creating time without the expectation that ‘free time’ will just pop up in your day, awaiting yourself care! It’s the 15 minutes you put aside for yourself before the kids get up vs the ‘I’ll see if I can fit something in at 11 pm‘.
You DO have 15 mins in your day. Yes, you do. You absolutely do!
Start saying no! Recognising what you need at that moment and taking time for yourself may involve saying no to others. This is a challenging part of creating boundaries and active self-love.
The Upside To Self-Care
It promotes good mental health. Any self-care practice allows you time to be with your thoughts and reorganise your internal dialogue. Taking time out helps reduce your stress and anxiety and keeps you in the here and now—all healthy and important strategies for positive mental health.
Refocuses and creates new energy. When you are stepping outside of your daily routine and reinvigorating your senses, body, and mind, you create new energy. You are re-energising to be ready for the next new challenge or more prepared to face existing ones.
Reinforces, you are important. The smallest acts of self-care demonstrate positive effects. These effects reinforce why it is so good to care for yourself and why you are worth it. Positive in and positive out.
What Happens When We Don’t Look After Ourselves?
We can’t care for ourselves or others. Are you feeling overworked, tired, having no energy, no motivation, and feeling pretty much over things? How are you to take care of those around you if you are not ok yourself? Start with you first.
We become resentful of no time for ourselves. The feeling of resentment fits nicely with the self-care strategy of saying ‘no’. Without saying no to demands, the feeling grows to be resentment over time, even to those closest to you. Share with people you love what you need and what makes you feel better. Be confident that occasionally saying no is not only ok but it’s necessary. Share how you feel and let people into what you need.
We are susceptible to stress, low mood, energy and generally not coping. This is a no-brainer. You can actively take steps to reduce the impact of stress, cope with what life throws at you, and flourish.
We model to others that we don’t matter. Not only do we demonstrate to others that our needs are lower on the list, but we are also teaching this to our kids. We are inadvertently saying to them that to be a good human, you must place yourself last and not take care of yourself. This is not something you would ever say to your kids, so be mindful of what your actions are demonstrating.
Burnout! Ultimately there’s burnout. Your body, emotions, coping, resilience, and ability to manage stress are diminished, and you can’t keep a lid on any of it. Chances are, you may have already been to this place, and it’s not pretty.
Starting your self-care practice today begins with you. How will you improve your self-care practices and allow yourself the time you deserve?