As many of you know, I am a huge self-care advocate! It took a long time for me to learn how to practice it for myself, but now it is a huge part of who I am and what I teach. I have learned so much and am continuously learning, and strive to encourage others to do the same.
Throughout the learning and teaching process, I have discovered a lot of interesting things that I feel are important for me to share. Some of the important things I like to talk about are the perceptions surrounding what self-care means.
I hate to be the one to say it, but the term "self-care" is often overused and misunderstood. It has been a term so loosely thrown out into mainstream media and over popularized in trendy health, wellness, and beauty conversations without the full comprehension of what self-care actually is. Although it is true that it may mean something different to each person, there are some basic concepts that often get missed, which leads to some very common misconceptions. In this post, I’ll be shedding some light on what I believe to be the core principles regarding self-care and what it really means. I will also be sharing how to make it more relatable, attainable and fitting to your lifestyle.
But first, let’s go over some of the common misconceptions:
Getting an occasional massage.
Going to get our hair done once in a while.
Doing our nails from time to time.
Cheat day - whether on food or exercise.
Binge-watching a show.
Going “out” – drinks, bar, club, etc.
Going on vacation.
Going to the doctor.
Spending an entire day in bed.
Seeing a therapist.
Getting take out.
Going to the chiro/acupuncture/osteopath etc.
Saying it’s really expensive.
Saying we don’t have time.
Saying we can't find things that fit our lifestyle.
All of these things (minus the last three) create temporary moments of self-care but are not always practiced frequently due to time, money, etc. These practices often come with long stretches of time in between due to the cost and/or time commitments, which lead us into the last three beliefs.
These things may provide small moments of feeling good, happiness, relaxation, etc., but they are not really what I define as a self-care practice. I refer to these as maintenance calls - these are things that we do semi-regularly, when we need a spruce up or when we feel like things may have gotten out of hand. There is nothing wrong with any of these – in fact, I highly encourage them as part of a larger self-care plan. Maintenance is definitely a part of self-care. A car needs maintenance, otherwise, it will get worse and eventually break down. However, it is how you use the car on a daily basis that makes the most difference in its longevity.
Let me tell you a secret about self-care that you don’t often hear about:
Self-Care Is A Daily Practice. It is free and doesn't require much time, money, or effort.
Self-care is exactly what it sounds like – taking care of yourself every day. It is not an occasional thing. We should care for ourselves every day, just like we would care for our children, partner, parent, pet, plants, etc. It takes into account the physical, spiritual and emotional parts of a person. We would not neglect these areas in someone or something else, and so we shouldn’t in ourselves either.
Sounds complicated right?
Not at all.
Here are some self-care basics that you can incorporate into your daily life. Making it a habit and daily practice is the goal, so we are going to keep this as simple as possible.
First - Pour into yourself first each day. This may seem like a lot, but it really is crucial in determining how we will be able to operate for the rest of the day.
How many know that we cannot pour from an empty cup?
Imagine this: We wake up in the morning rested, meaning that our cup is full. If we begin caring for others right away, working on tasks, rushing, making sure everybody and everything else is good, our cup goes down. Then if we go to work or school, our boss, co-workers, teachers, clients, staff and classmates are also taking from us, which drains our cup even more. Then our family calls, our friends call, social media calls - all with something that they also need from us, which drains our cup even further. When we get home, dishes are waiting, laundry is waiting, dinner is waiting, family needs you, and by the end of the day, you only have one dry, little, tiny, itsy, bitsy, baby drop left.
With this dry little drop, you were planning on doing something for yourself, but of course, you are too drained, so you end up passing out.
Here is my suggestion - I encourage you to wake up 20-30 minutes earlier each day and pour into yourself first. This can be physically, spiritually, mentally, or emotionally. Remember - when you wake up, you are rested which means you have a full cup. When you pour into yourself first, your cup runs over. What is in the cup you get to keep for yourself - what spills over is for everyone else. This means you get to stay full, even while you are being there for everybody else.
Second - Do something for your body each day. This does not have to be running a marathon, joining a gym, or bathing in essential oils (although these are also lovely). This could be a simple 10-minute stretch, 20-minute walk or 30-minute workout. This could also mean a hot bath or nourishing your skin with a daily morning and bedtime ritual. This could be remembering to eat fruits, vegetables and drinking enough water. This could actually even mean remembering to oil, braid, and wrap your hair every night! (#curlygirl). Being mindful that our body is our temple, really determines the way that we treat it. What we put into it, on it, around it, and what we do to it really matters. We need to take care of our bodies, our vessels, our temples.. it is the only one we were given and it’s important to find ways in each day to honor and respect it.
Third - Do something for your mind each day. This could be reading a book, writing, or doing puzzles. This could also mean spending time working on your dreams, your goals, and your plans. This could mean research, learning something new, or learning from somebody that can share some valuable information with you to help you grow. This could actually even be things like working on your to-do list, meditating, saying positive affirmations, interrupting negative thought patterns, and learning how to set boundaries. Our mind is such a powerful, yet, delicate place. The things we think, the information we absorb and the things we chose to focus on daily can have positive or negative impacts on our lives. It is extremely important to be mindful of what is going on in our minds!
Lastly - Do something for your spirit each day. I invite you to ask yourself this question - what brings you joy?
Is it playing with kids? Is it singing? Is it dance? Is it art? Is it animals? Is it cooking? Is it talking with people? Smelling the flowers? Listening to music? Fashion? Building things? Creating?
What motivates and inspires you? What lights you up inside? What gives you hope? What makes you forget about the stress and pressures of the world?
This will be something extremely personal to each person. It is so crucial to find something that connects with your spirit. This then allows you to connect to the spirit of others. Our spirit is the closest thing we have to the spiritual and divine realm. It is a direct reflection of the universe living inside of us. It lights up our passions and reminds us of the greater things in this life and beyond. Connecting with this part of us is sacred and creates an inexplicable joy that you taste and feel it. It drives us and keeps the fire and passion alive. If you can find spiritual connection in your workplace, you are extremely lucky and likely living in alignment with your purpose. If you can’t find it at work, that’s OK too! I just encourage you to find it and connect with it in some other area of your life so that your spiritual side gets nourished, even if its just for a few moments. Take a deep breath and connect with your spirit every single day, and remind yourself that you are a part of something greater.
These are just a few simple suggestions that you can incorporate into your everyday life. Start with just one small thing for each area of yourself. This is what true self-care is – taking care of our whole selves every single day. It does not have to be fancy, expensive, time-consuming, or difficult. In fact, I am certain many of you already practice many of these things regularly. I encourage you to begin practicing something for your mind, body and spirit daily. As you grow, so will your desire to go deeper into your self-care practice, and it is such a beautiful thing to watch unfold.
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Thank you for reading!