Self Care is NOT a Cliche

There’s so much talk about self care these days, which I think is great.  The world definitely needs more conversation about the importance of looking after yourself, rather than continuing to pour from an empty cup.  That said, I believe that its becoming increasingly common to almost roll your eyes at yet another article about self-care – which is why I want to make this one a little different.

Self Care is NOT a f**king mani-pedi

If I have to hear one more person refer to a complete self-care routine as a manicure, pedicure, bath or phoning a friend I will cry.  I swear I will break down.  These are all examples of self-care, sure, but what I like to call ‘external’ self-care examples, or examples of kindness to oneself.  You can paint your nails every damn day if you really want, but it’s not going to fill you up.  It’s not going to leave you content, nourished and feeling supported.

This ‘external’ aspect to self care covers a diverse range of  actions and systems.  Just a few examples are listed below (some of them are more internal, like the introspection section, but I’ve included them here too):

  • Creativity : Knitting, sewing, painting, DIY, baking, cooking, other ‘manual’ hobbies
  • Eating Mindfully : Nourishing your body with food that it needs (and wants)
  • Introspection : Reading, creative writing, journaling, meditation, therapy, card readings
  • Movement : Yoga, running, gym, other enjoyable forms of exercise
  • Self-kindness : Bath, mani/pedi, facials, massage, napping 
  • Healing : Reiki, massage, private yoga, meditation, therapy
  • Relationships : making time for friends and family; phone calls, hanging out
  • Nature : walks outside, spending time with animals
  • Practical : Managing finances to reduce stress etc

‘Internalised’ Self Care Practices

Self-care isn’t all about actions like above, of course.  Self care is about having introspective practices that do leave you feeling content, nourished and supported.

Practices like reflecting on situations in a critical-yet-compassionate a way; evaluating how particular situations went, how you did well, and how you could improve (not dwelling on the negatives, but being constructive).

Self care can look like doing absolutely nothing; sitting/lying down on the sofa, taking a few well-deserved minutes out for yourself, paying attention to what’s going on in your mind right now with gentle kindness.  Being truly compassionate to yourself is about honouring your emotions- no longer judging yourself for how you feel, but rather acknowledging your emotional needs and respecting them.

Self care can be setting clear boundaries, self-respect and saying “no” to meeting requests, favours and other peoples’ demands.  Self care is about knowing you are worthy of choosing how you spend your time. It can be turning down opportunities that don’t align with your overall life goals.

It doesn’t all have to be serious! Self care can be about honouring the playfulness that exists within all of us! Having fun and reconnecting to your inner child is such an important form of self care.

Prioritise Yourself

Something I refer to a lot in sessions with my coaching clients is the old airplane analogy: “Put your own oxygen mask on first”.  If there’s a crisis on board, you don’t rush around the plane making sure everyone else’s oxygen masks are on properly do you? You would probably pass out from oxygen deprivation, and be less than helpful!  Plane staff even insist you put your own mask on before you help with your children’s oxygen supply.

So how does this relate to self-care?  Well, clearly looking after yourself first is crucial for your own survival (and potentially the survival of those around you as well) in the example above.  This translates to our every day lives, although mostly to a lesser degree.  By constantly putting everybody else’s needs above our own, we end up frazzled and burning out, getting stressed and ill, and generally not respecting ourselves and our needs enough.  A lot of people I know, particularly those with kids, find it really difficult to set up a self care routine that’s manageable.

Make It Last

A lot of people (myself included) are impatient and overly ambitious! We want to dive in the deep end and try to maximise our time to do everything we possibly can every day.  Is this being self-compassionate though? It sounds pretty stressful to me!

It’s so simple to make a plan.  Plans are fairly easy to stick to it for the first few days/weeks.  It’s really hard to make anything a non-negatioble part of your life.  So I suggest starting off slow.  Incorporate one element of self care into your day/week and build from there.

Maybe you want to start meditating every day? Instead of committing to 20-30mins every day straight off the bat, try carving out 5-10minutes daily.  You can always build on it over time and I’m sure you’ll want to, once you experience the benefits it has with just a short amount of time.

For me, I was greatly inspired by one of my teachers who makes time for 20 minutes of meditation, 20 minutes of journalling, and 20 minutes of asana practice every morning.  However, I normally leave the house before 7am every day and, as much as I wish I could get up at 4:30am every morning like my teacher does to make time for this practice, I know it’s not feasible for me (at least, not in winter).  Instead, I have spent the last few weeks doing ’10/10/10′. 10 minutes each of meditation, journaling and yoga.  These 30 minutes have been life changing! I normally have time to have a longer yogasana practice later on that day, but starting my mornings in this gentle and self-oriented way has been transformational.

In Conclusion…

My point to all this is to start small.  By all means go take that bath and do whatever ‘external’ or ‘kind’ practice you wish, but also make time for the introspective and deep work.   By taking care of yourself you acknowledge your true worth.   And you are worthy 😉

Want to know more? Self care is a pivotal component of my Health Coaching program, and I’m happy to chat with you in more detail about everything else I offer with this service.  Get in touch to find out more.

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