Self-care is a word that’s bandied around a lot, but what exactly is it and why do we still put it at the bottom of our list of priorities?
When you hear the term self-care it tends to conjure up images of massages and manicures, eating chocolate, drinking wine and cosy nights snuggled up on the sofa watching films. But it is so much more than that, in fact if you’re doing it right it will at times be uncomfortable and challenging as you throw off the restraints of social conditioning and make some tough decisions in order to make you a priority in your life.
So what is self-care?
One of the reasons it has not taken its rightful place in the number one position on our to-do list is because we consider self-care to be selfish or self-indulgent, when it is neither of those things. We tend to take this view because of the overuse of the term to justify a little pampering which can be the opposite of self-care if taken to excess.
Self-care is meeting your own emotional, mental, physical and spiritual needs before we meet the needs of others. It is a conscious endeavour, and it nearly always needs to be learned. It is something that requires practice and perseverance, especially in the beginning as it tends to be the first thing that goes out the window the minute we get stressed or our lives get busy.
Self-care is looking after your mind, body and spirit, it’s taking care of your feelings so you don’t project them onto others, ensuring your body gets the right rest, nutrition and movement, it is learning, growing and taking time for contemplation and reflection, it is putting boundaries around your time and energy, it is saying no, no to the demands of others and sometimes no to things that you enjoy when the consequences of the indulgences are not in your best interests. It is putting on your own oxygen mask before you attend to other passengers, you can’t help anyone if you are unconscious- literally or figuratively.
The Benefits of self-care- they might surprise you!
Before we look at what there is to gain from meeting our own needs, what is the cost of not prioritising our own care? They are things which will sound all too familiar to many-putting our needs last leads to stress, overwhelm and frustration. We react rather than respond, and our patience and energy can be affected. Our tolerance might take a hit and we operate from a place that does not represent our best selves, and our overall well-being suffers.
The benefits of a consistent self-care practice are infinite and largely underestimated; you will get to know yourself on a deeper level you when begin to meet your own needs and it is empowering. Your confidence will grow exponentially as you honour that self-knowledge with appropriate action. You will be more patient and more productive, your resilience increases as does your creativity.
Apart from the personal gains, a good self-care practice allows you to show up more powerfully and authentically for the people in your life that matter most, it motivates you to be more generous with your resources (time, energy, love) because you create a reserve and begin to operate from a position of abundance. The more you learn about and honour your own needs the more you have available to give others.
Self-care is not a luxury, it is necessary and it is essential if we want to thrive in our lives, become more resilient and live life on purpose. As the old adage goes- You can´t fill from an empty cup, but do you know what fills your cup? It´s different for everyone and you deserve to get crystal clear on what fills you up and start taking actions towards achieving it.
If you need to give your self-care an MOT grab the self-coaching worksheet here ...
What´s your best self-care tip? Share it in the comments.