When you hear the words “self-care”, what comes to mind? Warm fragrant bubble baths? Long walks in the country? Sipping a cup of tea on the back porch? Or does it bring to mind with dread another list of things you have to do, even if they are for your own good?
Self-care is more than just pampering yourself, though that certainly is a significant part of it. It is living your life in such a way that you find time — not only find time but actually take time — to do those things for yourself that are nurturing and healthy and even courageous.
Take a minute and think about it.
What does self-care mean to you?
Wonder Woman is not an inaccurate definition of a large portion of the female population, certainly in the United States, and, I dare say, also the rest world. A famous commercial of the 80’s sang the praises of women and all they could and usually were expected to accomplish. You can see it here.
Things have changed, but we still have a ways to go.
Let me ask a few more questions to get you started thinking about your own self-care.
- Do you regularly take some time out just for you, preferably every day?
- Do you ask for help when you need it?
- Do you have a hobby or an activity that you enjoy and take part in?
- Do you ever put your needs ahead of others?
- Do you say ‘yes’ when you really mean ‘no’?
There are more questions we could consider, but these will get you started. My point is this: it is worth you taking a look at your life and finding — ferreting out — blocks of time just for you. Your health and well-being depend on it.
An article from PsychCentral recommends spending just a few minutes daily in silence, setting aside time for breaks, or taking a walk by yourself as ways to promote relaxation and well-being.
Running full speed ahead, day-in day-out is rough on the body, soul, and spirit. Over time, it begins to take a toll.
So for our purposes, let’s use this as our definition of self-care:
Self-care includes any intentional actions you take to
care for your physical, mental and emotional health.*
Many would call self-care a selfish notion, and indeed, it is all about the self, all about me, all about you. Often it requires extreme measures to make it happen. It may demand that you undertake changes in your life that leave you angry, confused, and breathless, because it can be scary to do something so radical, when it goes against the grain of the status quo.
I don’t mean to sound dramatic, but when your self-care causes those around you to take on more responsibility, they may not go down without a fight.
Stand your ground.
You. Are. Worth. It.
Next time we will talk about the why of self-care.
In the meantime, what is one small step you can take to start taking care of you?
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So are you with me? I hope you’ll hang in, and share your questions and comments. Let’s figure this thing out together. I need it as much as anyone else. It’s better to walk a new road together.
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* This definition came from an article of information adapted from RAINN.org, a UK Violence Intervention and Prevention Program. You can read the entire article here.