In the realm of self-love – encompassing (and not limited to) self-worth, self-respect, self-forgiveness, self-esteem and self-acceptance – where I landed was that self-care is the practice of taking care of yourself to nourish and recharge your mind, body and spirit, every day.
It’s the decision (self-responsibility) that we make to care for ourselves, often in lieu of “doing more” or “attempting to be more,” and it can be as simple as getting up from the computer every half an hour to stretch, or as decadent as a weekend at a health retreat. With a score of feel-good activities in between.
For me personally, and this is different for everyone, self-care is the distinction between a familiar statement like: “Once I finish this I’ll be able to relax/ do something nice/ take a breather” vs. “I’m always worthy of the same care that I extend to others.” (just saying that feels awesome).
SELF-CARE. IN ACTION. HOW DOES IT PLAY OUT IN MY LIFE?
FIRSTLY: By giving myself permission. To create space for myself in my life and to slow things right down so I can meet myself where I’m at.
THEN: It’s about paying attention to my energy. And asking: what would I be able to do better if I felt grounded, nurtured, free and full of energy? What’s keeping me from taking care of myself, and what one thing can I do to shift this immediately?
SELF-CARE FOR “BUSINESS ME” MEANS…
Acknowledging when I’ve done enough for the day, flipping the computer lid down and disconnecting (completely). Email-free weekends – yep, even when it’s tempting to just “get ‘em done.” Reviewing my schedule, then asking for – and freely receiving – help to lighten the load. Doing less (which in reality, is always more). Lovingly saying no, or: “Self-care is a big priority for me right now, and that means I’m not available this time round (but thank you so much, I’m honoured to be asked).” Leaving space in my schedule for spontaneous play, random juice dates or a 3pm yoga class. Gently reminding myself that I am not my work.
SELF-CARE ON A BODY LEVEL MEANS…
Waking at 5, in bed by 9:30. Getting my tight shoulders cracked/ released/ aligned by an osteopath. Yoga. Pilates. A long run. Movement, movement, movement. Getting my hair done and switching my phone off, pouring over a magazine I’d normally never usually buy and saying yes to the fancy blow dry… purely because it feels good. Drinking plenty of water for a clear head and skin that glows. Heading to a kinesiology session to find out what my body reallyneeds. Listening, and asking: what are you hungry for, body o-mine? More greens? Less sugar? A grounding meal? A sleep in? Treating food as nourishment, not a response to an (emotional) craving.
FOR MY MIND, SELF-CARE MEANS…
Mono-tasking – even when (especially when) my head is screaming ‘But there’s so much to do.” Losing hours in the pages of a good book. Deleting the social media apps from my phone and starting the day with a visualisation, instead of a thumb-to-screen scroll through other people’s lives (and moods). Tech breaks, full stop. Tuning in to teleseminars that teach, inspire, uplift. Cranking iTunes between clients and shaking it all out, head to toe, booty ‘n’ all. Evaluating whether I’ve taken on a commitment out of guilt or obligation. Forgiving myself, and planning a better response for next time.
+ ON A SOUL/ SPIRIT FRONT, SELF-CARE PLAYS OUT AS…
Keeping a promise I’ve made to myself. Going outside, stretching my hands up above my head and silently mouthing thank you. Meditating – with music, or in silence. At home or at the beach. Wherever I’m called. Journalling – big ideas in color, support thoughts scrawled over many pages. Dreams and self-love notes. Making things with my hands for the sheer joy of creating. Ushering more pleasure into my life – laughter, intimacy, sensuality, the best piece of chocolate I can get my hands on. Lying in bed and staring out the window, doing nothing, and being happy there. An hour-long phone chat in the middle of the day, just ’cause. Looking behind overwhelm and busyness and asking: “What’s really going on here, honey?” Identifying and letting go.
All that sounds so lush (right?!) but when it comes to tending to me, I’m certainly not perfect. I know how good it feels to honor my mind-body-spirit, and still, I screw it up.
I over-commit. I leave things to the last minute and have to rearrange, well, pretty much everything, to accommodate my procrastination. Exercise sessions are missed. That afternoon off I’d scheduled? Gone.
I forget that I’m in control of my schedule.
I forget that I’m in control of my life.
What I also do, though, is love and respect who I am enough doing this self-care thing imperfectly. Some days I nail it, completely tuned into my energy and what feels “right”. Others, I crawl into bed at night and realise I’ve just let out a breath I’ve been holding onto all day.
And it’s all OK.