Most of us think of Self Care as
- Soaking in a hot bath when you’re tired at the end of the day
- Getting regular exercise
- Drinking 6 glasses of water
- Taking your vitamins
- Sleeping 8 hours a night (yeah right!)
And yes, these are all valid. I’d like to propose that there’s a lot more to Self Care than these obvious actions.
What is Self Care then,
if it’s more than the above?
Before we get into the reasons for it, let’s take a look at a few definitions. Some of my wise friends have defined it thus:
“Prioritizing what I need in order to keep my energy tanks full or close to full, with an emphasis on the physical and spiritual ones. If I don’t keep them full, my mood gets low, I become lethargic and irritated and sometimes resentful of people making demands on me. I am also more likely to get sick, make mistakes and be unproductive. In general my resilience for the realities of daily life would be low.” ~ Alison
“Self Care is looking after yourself. Being a Mom to yourself, so to speak.” ~ Gail
Doesn’t this sum it up absolutely beautifully?
So… those 3 Great Reasons for Self Care?
1. Our Future
Have you considered that everything we do, and don’t do today, create the person that we are tomorrow and well into the future?
We all know that lack of sleep, vitamins and healthy food leads to a deficiency in our immunity and therefore the possibility of ill health. Yet, we keep saying “work/taking care of others is more important than my sleep” and then wonder why we’re plagued with colds, niggles and other physical discomforts.
The simple truth is, if we don’t consider our health today, and every day, we are inviting trouble. Every decision we make creates our future reality. Who we are today is a result of choices we made in the past.
“Caring for yourself today is exactly what determines your life for decades to come.” ~ Deepak Chopra
Do I choose to create a future self that is vibrant and healthy? Then how can I take care of myself TODAY to let that be a reality tomorrow? What do I need TODAY to restore my energy tanks? And if you can’t give it to yourself today because of prior commitments and a habit of over-committing, at least start putting plans in place to give this to yourself in the next week.
2. Our Family
Most of us are in a habit (especially if we are the wife or mother) to put our family’s needs before our own. That’s what good wives and mothers do, right? I certainly saw my Mom do that all her life. She still does – and she has fibromyalgia and Parkinson’s Disease and allergies and severe back pain.
I am wondering how her health might have been if she had learnt how to put her needs first as a Mom and caretaker, so that we could learn by example what good self care is. Of course I could never prove it… yet I’m convinced that if she’d acknowledged her needs to rest and have time “off” from all the millions of tiny responsibilities, asked us for more help and to be aware of her needs, that she needs respect as much as we need her time, her health may have been totally different today.
We three children are now doing our best to support her with her health challenges from long distances away. My Dad is also not healthy – and she’s still taking more than her fair share of responsibility there while her health continues to suffer.
How happy are you with your self care considering you are always setting an example for your family, whether you’re meaning to or not? What would you think if your children gave themselves the exact level of self care you do? Is that thought a bit of a shock? Would you want your children (or other family) to start taking care of you because your energy tanks have been so empty for so long that your body simply says “enough!”?
3. Our Happiness
Have you considered that each one of us is solely responsible for our own happiness?
Yes, we tend to act like victims of circumstances, and oh yes, we certainly don’t consciously choose for everything to happen like it does. Life can hand us severe challenges, change our plans in an instant and we have to cope with it all.
Yet, there is some measure of choice we have. I don’t know exactly where that line is, and I don’t think anyone else really knows either. I can at least plan to do things that fulfill what my soul is asking for.
The thing is – if I don’t prioritize my life according to what will make me happy, someone else certainly will.
Nature abhors a vacuum. Have you noticed how easy it is to fill your time with “nothing” when you don’t have a clear priority, schedule tasks and make an effort to get your priorities done? I certainly see it over and over in my own life.
I work for myself. If I don’t have a clear list of tasks I need to get done to move me towards my current goals every day, I generally float around, wondering what to do next, make a cup of tea, answer email for hours, get lost on Facebook – and at the end of the day wonder what the heck I did to pass the last 10 hours.
When I have a clear list of my 7 most important tasks for the day, and I’ve written it down, I have purpose, clarity and focus – and at the end of the day I feel happy and successful, knowing that what I did today has moved me closer to my personal dreams and goals. Not someone else’s.
Answering emails is working on someone else’s dream or goal. Getting my own priorities and tasks done brings me fulfillment and the knowledge that I’m in the process of creating my life the way I want it, even though it may not be perfect yet. I’m working on it though, every step of my day.
That doesn’t mean I can’t serve others when they ask for help. It does mean prioritizing my own tasks, and then letting others know I’d love to help, and offering time slots that fit in with my priorities and values.
Is what I’m doing daily moving me in the directions of MY wishes, dreams and goals? Can I say “no” respectfully to others without the guilt? Am I really happy, or am I just floating on the current of life, hoping that one day things will turn in my favour?
Self Care is not an easy topic to master. We all have many emotional buttons around it. Guilt and shame come up most often when I raise this topic with clients.
“I can’t because….” Something else always comes first. While we become resentful, exhausted, overwhelmed and a martyr.