Self care is and should be an important part of your daily routine, as it allows the rest of life to function effectively. But here’s the secret, self care should not be just another opportunity to beat yourself up.
In health care as any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated.
~ Alexander Segall and Jay Goldstein (1998)
I only recently came across this specific definition and it somewhat opened my eyes. As clinical as it sounds, I really like this concept as it doesn’t put any value on the actual “self care” other than it being up to the individual.
I think the challenge that people often face when it comes to personal development is not the concept of creating more balance in their lives but living up to the expectation of what balance means to someone else. We’ve taken a step back in our Balance Campaign of late to explore what balance might actually mean to the individual. Our intention was never to suggest that finding a balanced life had to look a certain way because essentially it’s not about how it looks from the outside, but how it feels from the inside to you.
Why is self care so important?
Physical illness, depression, stress, feelings of overwhelm are all ways the body tells you that things are out of whack. In most cases, your attention to self care is probably lacking. Self care is any voluntary activity that you do to help maintain your physical, mental and emotional health. Dedicating energy and time to your self care is important to ensure you stay healthy, so you can take on your work and responsibilities, and feel good about it.
Essentially, self care is different for everyone.
Whilst we typically conjure up images of green smoothies, exercise regimes, meditation, bubble baths and time alone, this may not be everyone’s ideal fix it strategy. Self care is anything that you do to feel recharged. For some this is reading a book or taking a bubble bath, for some it’s going for a jog and listening to music, but for others it’s going to lunch with a friend, or treating themselves to a slice of chocolate cake without the guilt. I’m not suggesting you include a piece of chocolate cake in your daily routine of self care, because there has to be a healthy balance, but if once in a while you want to indulge and you do so with the right intention, then that’s your self care!
Mine is movies. I’ve always been a movie buff, could spend hours whiling away the day swept up in stories and imagination. Granted, with kids I don’t have the hours in the day anymore and time spent indulging in a good film are few and far between. But if I had the choice between a massage, a bubble bath, or taking in a good film, I would take the film every time. It’s not necessarily the healthiest choice, but I can completely unwind. I don’t have to think, I’m swept up by someone else’s vision, characters, storyline and if I make a good selection and there’s a happy ending, I’m on a high for the rest of the day.
Self care is not necessarily about the healthiest choice, although including enough of those healthy choices has it’s benefit, but it’s about what’s good for you at that moment. As long as it’s done with the right intention. If you’re going to have that slice of cake and then beat yourself up about it for the next 3 hours, then you haven’t achieved anything. If your source of stress is diet related, then again perhaps the slice of cake isn’t the way to go. So, look at the bigger picture – what is your source of stress, what would ease that for you? What’s going to allow you to feel recharged? A glass of wine with your bestie as you unload your day might just be your ticket.
Don’t let the idea of self care be another reason you beat yourself up.
Self care is exactly that, a decision you make about your self. It’s all about YOU. Don’t use the pressure of finding that “balance” be the reason you’re stressed. How many hours have you spent annoyed at yourself because you haven’t gone for that jog yet, or you cheated on your diet or you didn’t get enough work done and now you’re overloaded.
Sometimes the self care might simply mean letting go. Last week my self care involved letting go of the idea of getting any work done. On the days I have both kids at home by myself, it’s virtually impossible. But it doesn’t stop me from stressing about it all day and then kicking myself at the end of the day for not being on my game enough to get that email written during the 5 minutes when the kids naps overlapped. Whether I stress about it or not, doesn’t change the outcome of my day. However, whether I stress about it or let it go for a day does affect how I feel at the end of it. I can’t always achieve simply “letting it go”, especially when I’m under the pump, but last week I did just for a day and the feeling was liberating.
Self care is whatever self-initiated activity you choose to feel relaxed and recharged. Whether this is yoga, meditation, breathing, reading, exercising, dancing around the room, laughing out loud or lounging in front of a good flick, it’s up to YOU. Explore this concept, with no expectation, and see what you come up with.
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