It’s a conversation I feel like I have over and over in a seemingly never ending loop: It’s ok to take time for yourself, to take care of yourself, and it is not selfish to set boundaries, to be clear about your own needs, and to do what you need to do to feel healthy, safe, strong, and well rested. I think that a large part of where self care gets a bad rap is the image that the term conjures up: A long decadent bubble bath with Swiss chocolates, a glass of wine or a day out with friends spending more money than planned and forgetting about other responsibilities. Those events might either be preceded or followed by several hours of lounging in front of a fireplace or playing video games and neglecting to help loved ones out with shared tasks. That’s not to say that all those things cannot be self-care, but they are definitely not all that self-care is. What is Self-care? Self-care is not all decadence and treats. Self-care is making sure that you have time to be active, so that you maintain your strength, fitness, and heart health. Self-care is both meal planning and prepping so you have healthy food to fuel yourself, and at the same time is sometimes ordering pizza on the way home so that you don’t have to cook that night (and get cold pizza for breakfast, yum!). Self-care is both social time and interactions with friends, and also sometimes saying no and spending time alone to relax and regroup…alone. Self-care can be getting a baby sitter so that you can go sit and read a book and re-acquaint yourself with who you are post-children. Self-care can be going to get that massage, appointment with your physiotherapist, or doctor to deal with that mild, niggling issue that seems to be slowly getting worse, but is not so bad that you can’t ignore it… yet. Basically self-care is doing what you NEED to do to look after your own needs and wellbeing, first. These small carved out chunks of time allow you to tackle the chaos that we sometimes call life, love more deeply, have patience for longer and meet the needs of those around.
Needs vs. Wants Self-care gets a bad reputation because it often requires that an individual stops and evaluates what they actually NEED vs. what they want. Self-care is often thought of as a want that is never attainable but let’s change the conversation to changing patterns, division of responsibilities and all round changing the status quo to accommodate recharge time. Relationships that dig deep and carve out this necessary time out for each other find their bonds strengthen, their love grows and their energy for challenges extends. What all too often happens, is the belief that self-care is only attainable for others, without making the necessary small changes people start heading for burnout.
Resist burnout by doing these four things:
Find just 5 mins a day for yourself to do something that recharges you, even if that means hiding in a bathroom a few minutes longer to read a couple pages in your favourite book
Cook YOUR favourite meal, forget everyone else and make the meal that gives you energy and makes you excited for food!
Wear HAPPY socks! This works for any piece of clothing but put on something that when you see it, you smile.
Listen to YOUR favourite album, play it loud and proud, so you can enjoy those mundane tasks
So self-care: its unique, it varies from day to day for each individual, and it is necessary. It is a NEED and a WANT but make sure it happens and most of all it is NOT selfish. Self-care is taking care of YOU so that you can take care everyone else.