“Self-care is how you take your power back.”~ Lalah Delia
“Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.”~ Unknown
“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”~ Jean Shinoda Bolen
Self-care gets a bad rap, plain and simple. You know it’s true; you’ve seen the eye rolls and the snorts when the topic is brought up. But why? Perhaps because of our old Puritan idea that focusing on yourself is selfish and therefore bad.
One of the most powerful exercises you can do is to actually question your own beliefs. After all, is it true that if you focus on yourself you are being selfish? Could it be just the opposite? Doesn’t it stand to reason that when you are better mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually then everyone and everything in your life benefits?
Maybe you are one of those people who works 50-60 hours a week. You get a sense of satisfaction because you are always working. Work allows you to feel like you are getting ahead, secure, and successful. You imagine that people admire your commitment and sense of sacrifice. My guess is you use everyday necessities as “treats”, like bathroom breaks or eating lunch. These “treats” are your version of self-care, however miserly you dole them out.
Perhaps you are the exact opposite, avoiding what needs to be done by distracting yourself by any means necessary. You binge watch Netflix, surf the web until 3am, incessantly shop, or drink too much; all to keep yourself from facing something that seems emotionally overwhelming or daunting. This type of self-care serves as a success torpedo, yet you still justify it as your special way of taking care of yourself.
Or you could be one of those people who always puts themselves last. Everybody else is so much more important that it wouldn’t occur to you to take some time and attention from your schedule and focus on what you need. Heaven forbid! That would mean a loss of your identity as a “helper” and without that you are afraid people won’t like you.
Question whatever scenario you have created for yourself that keeps you from fully expressing self-care. You are worth it. The people in your life deserve to have you at your best. And frankly, if you really look at the barriers you’ve erected to keep yourself from being important to you I bet you will discover it all comes from someone else’s voice in your head.
It’s time you start being true to you! Sacrifice is not success. I know as women that message was drilled into our heads, but deep down you know that’s an empty promise. Health and happiness are authentic indicators of success; start focusing on bringing more of those things into your life.
Begin by hitting the pause button on your activities. Doing can fill up a day and it’s not until your head hits the pillow that you realize the days got away from you and you forgot again to take time for yourself.
Schedule in short breaks in your day when you can stop, close your eyes, shut out distractions, breathe deeply, and ask yourself what you need at this moment. Scan your body and mind to see if you need to provide yourself with a physical, emotional, or spiritual gift. Then take a few minutes and follow through by giving yourself the care you need.
Here are some ideas to help jump start your practice.
Self-Care for the Body
#1 Breathe deeply.
Get more oxygen in your system by taking 10 deep belly breaths. Close your eyes and completely focus on the miracle of air coming into and out of your body. Feel it energize you and appreciate how ever present this gift is available to you.
#2 Move, shimmy, or shake.
Go for a quick run or walk to get the blood pumping. Or, if you can, put on some tunes and boogie down. If those aren’t possible at least stretch. Move your body to loosen up the kinks, clear your head, and get more grounded.
#3 Feed yourself.
Make small changes to your diet to improve your health. Drink an extra glass of water each day or add in an extra serving of veggies. Pick two healthy meal choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and rotate them into your weekly menu.
#4 Tickle your funny bone.
Laughter really is the best medicine so read a funny comic strip like you used to do as a kid. Anyone else remember Calvin and Hobbsor The Far Side? Watch a funny movie or a movie clip if time is short. Just go to YouTube and you’ll discover an avalanche of funny material at your fingertips.
#5 Delight your senses.
Listen to your favorite music, look at beautiful pictures, inhale an upbeat smell like peppermint, or wear something that feels great next to your skin. Delightful sensory input is a quick way to elevate yourself.
Self-Care for the Mind
#6 Take yourself off autopilot.
Intentionally focus on a task you usually do mindfully. Be fully present when you wash dishes, drive home, or brush your teeth.
#7 Mix it up.
Do something differently: take a new route to work, try a new restaurant, talk to a stranger. The mind loves new experiences so make yours happy.
#8 Clean your list.
Let go of those things that are mentally annoying. Cross off that item that’s been on your to-do list forever. Accept that you are not doing it, dump it, and move on. Commit to doing those little things that have been nagging at you – sew on that button, replace that lightbulb, or oil that hinge. Free your mind and the rest will follow.
#9 Make a playdate.
Schedule in time for you to play. Draw, color, collage, sculpt, compose, write, sing, dance, whatever form of expression works best for you, do that. The things that light you up are worthy of your time and attention.
Self-Care for the Soul
#10 Connect with nature.
Go to the forest or beach and feel the ground beneath your feet, smell the freshness in the air, get in tune with the energy of nature.
#11 Be your own best friend.
Turn off your negative self-talk. Ask yourself instead, what would my best friend say about me? Then look into the mirror and tell yourself those positive things.
#12 Give to get.
Give a helping hand to someone. Be generous with smiles and hugs. Be grateful for your blessings. Give a sincere complement to a cashier or barista. Give love and your life will be filled with love, not because you’ve given in order to get something back, but because you cannot give love without feeling love.
Self-care isn’t some fluff luxury reserved for only when you deserve to treat yourself. It is a powerful daily practice that increases your happiness and lowers your stress. Don’t believe me? Prove it to yourself. Take 21 days, put this into practice, and see if you aren’t more productive, more resilient, and more fun to be around.