Today, I'd like to have a conversation about self-care because it is often left as a side note of life. Too often, I hear, "I'll take care of myself when I have time." Or "That's just not my priority right now." The truth is, if it isn't a priority now, chances are it never will be.
First of all, let's discuss "what is self-care?"
Self-care is any intentional choices you make to take care of your physical, mental and emotional health.
Some examples of self care might include:
Surrounding yourself with people who nourish and encourage you
Eliminating clutter from your home and office
Choosing work aligned with your values
Getting your finances in order
Allowing yourself rest and play
Prioritizing your nutrition and body health
Most importantly -
Never making any commitments out of guilt or obligation
So, what's so important about self-care?
In our culture, many people highly value hard work, ambition, and taking care of responsibilities. Although these things are great, often they are not harmonized with a strong practice of self care.
The self care that gets forgotten must become our first priority. We have become too comfortable with self-deprivation, and we often compromise the things that are really important to us. Self-care is what fundamentally keeps us healthy, because, as human beings, we actually require a lot more than food, water, and shelter. To feel alive and well, we need space to realize our purpose, and we need to come from a space of financial security, relationship peace, and nourishing surroundings.
Another common behavior in our society is to priority the wellbeing of other people over ourselves. This could be a spouse, children, friends, other family members, or even complete strangers.
Every time we board an airplane, we hear “put on your own oxygen mask before assisting someone else”. Everyone understands this concept in context, but we often miss the concept everywhere else. To be effective in anything, we must be vigilant in prioritizing our own authentic self-care. You will be a better wife, if you prioritize your own happiness instead of showing up miserable and empty, trying to make him happy. You will be a better mother if your children watch you unapologetically honor your own need for rest, camaraderie, or space, even if it means telling them “no”, for something they want to do.
In order to be the best that we can be in literally any and every role we play in our lives, we MUST care for ourselves FIRST.
What are the benefits of self-care?
We constantly hear about living our “life’s purpose” right? Do we usually discover that through our crazy 9-5 schedule? No, we discover what makes us feel alive when we allow ourselves some soul space, rest, and reflection. (And no, I’m not talking about TV!)
When we honor our own need for our own time, energy, and attention, we get to live proactively, instead of reactively. Think about it. When life is lived constantly jumping from one task to another, there is no time to plan or reflect upon what is important. Everything becomes a reaction to what we are experiencing. We allow ourselves the time to reflect upon our values and determine how we want to spend this life and each precious moment that is given to us. When we take the time for self-care, we begin to live in flow with life, instead of forcing all of the tasks that we think we “should” do.
Living this way can feel counter-intuitive in our crazy busy culture, but take a minute to think about what you will remember in five years. Will you remember the paperwork you completed? The long hours at work? Time with your child? An adventure that you took with your husband? Self-care forces us to refocus on the things that are most valuable in life.
What are the consequences of not participating in self-care?
When we don’t participate in self-care, we deny ourselves the most essential and basic needs that we have. When we don’t allow ourselves to live authentically, we become burnt out, resentful, and lost.
When we are constantly trying to pour from an empty cup, not only do we suffer but everyone around us does too. Everyone flourishes when we come from a space of abundance and freely give of our excess.
The biggest and saddest outcome I see in people who choose not to develop their self-care is depression, hopelessness, helplessness, and resentment. When people do not take care of their own needs, they keep themselves at the mercy of others and their environment to do it for them. Unfortunately, this almost never works out and self-deprivation becomes a way of life. Misery ensues and life is lived as a victim, instead of being self-empowered.
What do you see as the biggest challenges for people trying to achieve self-care?
Being afraid to let go of something holding them back. Attachment.
The more attached we are to something, the more it can become a barrier to our own wellbeing. It could be a relationship that does not nourish us, a job that does not fulfill us, a car that keeps us in debt, or so many things that cause us to compromise our own values and best interest. When we are willing to give up anything and everything that stands in the way of caring for the biggest gift we were ever given (LIFE), we are truly capable of honoring our potential and living to the very fullest.
Commit to ENJOYING your life and ridding yourself fully of anything that compromises your self-care. You are worth it.