Over the last few years more and more people, especially women, are talking about self-care and their self-care regime which is really wonderful. The term ‘self-care’ has become mainstream which it definitely wasn’t when I started life coaching back in 2004. It is such an important thing to prioritise in this crazy, speeded up, modern world. I am a HUGE fan of self-care and have been advocating on its behalf for the last 15 years as a Life Coach and Retreats & Events Manager specialising in personal and spiritual development.
So why am I concerned?
Quite simply because what I witness many people practicing is NOT self-care in its true form. I see so many of my female friends and clients taking on more and more responsibilities and not even realising how over-stretched they are mentally, physically and emotionally. It is almost like being busy has become a badge of honour for them. The term ‘self-care’ is now regularly coined as a way of excusing the fact that they are taking an hour or so for themselves.
When you race from another appointment to your monthly massage, lie down with your body knotted in tension, think about 100 other things while you are being massaged and then race off to the next appointment, you are simply ticking off another thing on your long ‘to do’ list. When you come flying into yoga class late every week, it takes you 10 minutes to slow your breathing down and then you race off as soon as the teacher says ‘namaste’, you are still in your habitual ‘busy-ness’. When you have to consciously remember to schedule in one thing which brings you joy every month you are missing the point of self-care. I did up until a few years ago too.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s better than nothing but what are you doing to yourself for the other 167 hours a week? How are you treating yourself? Why are you allowing yourself to get so stressed or anxious in the first place?
For me, self-care is not just something I commit an hour a week to. It is a philosophy for how I live my life at the ripe of old age of 50!
Self-care is prioritising the importance of sleep and creating a physical and mental environment which allows me to benefit from a deep sleep every night and often a siesta during the afternoon too.
Self-care is what I put into my body from the moment I wake up and drink a mug of hot lemon water until 9pm when I stop eating/drinking and give my body its 16 hour period of fasting.
Self-care is committing to my morning practice which includes yoga, meditation and chanting the Gayatri Mantra.
Self-care is about eating a nutrient-rich, mostly plant-based diet much of which we have grown ourselves in our organic vegetable plot.
Self-care is treating myself and talking to and about myself with compassion and loving kindness.
Self-care is leaving toxic or unhealthy relationships however much I loved the other person, however guilty I felt about doing so and however scared I am of being lonely.
Self-care is committing to regular counselling, coaching, therapy or spiritual guidance, whatever it might bring up and however much it might challenge me.
Self-care is making decisions about how and where I want to live based on what will nourish my soul and my body, even if that means facing huge scary changes.
Self-care is about not rushing to get the job done or always leaving myself late so that I am in a hurry.
Self-care helps me be selective about what I listen to or watch and how that impacts me mentally and energetically.
Self-care means only carrying one bag of shopping in each hand rather than over-stretching myself so I can get the job done quicker.
Self-care requires me to take regular retreats away from my familiar daily habits in order to sit with a great spiritual teacher.
Self-care asks me to manage my money well and not take on debt which I cannot repay because that stresses me out.
Self-care taught me to create strong, healthy boundaries and to be able to say ‘no’ to things I do not really want to do.
Self-care involves resting undefended and staying open-hearted even when I have been hurt or triggered by someone’s actions or words.
Self-care is a 24/7 project. An hour a week of pamper-time is a start but the real challenge is becoming conscious of everything and everyone that causes me to get stressed or anxious whether that be a thought pattern or an actual situation. Then, once you are aware of what stops you from travelling through your life in a fully relaxed and whole-hearted way, if you really want to practice self-care then you must let it go.
“Being the presence of love hinges on our capacity to be more fully present. That means the commentating mind is dropped into the cave of the heart, grounded in the immediacy of the body, here and now.”
Self-care is about relaxing the crazy-making ego-mind, settling into the inner peace and loving support that is available to you and treating yourself with the utmost tenderness at all times and with every choice you make. The more I do this, the more I am able to move through this world more joyfully, peacefully and graciously and treat the planet and those I share it with in a more gentle and loving way . And, after all, isn’t that what most of us really want?