Self-care is something you always hear about, how it’s so important, but most of us don’t do it. Or at least don’t do it properly!
Working in the field of human services for so many years you always hear about the importance of self-care. In fact, I don’t think I have been through an interview where I wasn’t asked “What do you do for self-care?” And to be honest I would throw out the same old answers, read a book, go to the gym, yoga, hang out with friends. I wasn’t necessarily lying, but when I said those things I actually just did the actions the minimum, I was too busy! What I didn’t understand was what it really means to practice self-care!
The difference, I know now, is that you can do the actions but if your energy and intention is not in line with the actions, then you are not actually doing self-care. In many instances, I feel you might be doing self-harm instead! What I mean by this is that when you take a bath and spend the whole time running through a to-do list in your head, or thinking about a mistake you made at work or what else you should be doing, then how are you enjoying your bath? You’re not! You might as well be sitting at your desk! The harm here is, if you are telling yourself that this is self-care then you are sending the message that you are not good enough and don’t deserve the break!
On the other hand, if you are sitting in your bath being mindful of the warm water, the way the bubbles tickle your skin, smelling the oils in the bath, enjoying the space and time that you are in, then you are definitely doing self-care! Can you see the difference between the two?
Another common go to method of self-care for some is having a glass of wine. If you are drinking it while thinking “I need this glass of wine to unwind to stop thinking about my crazy day”, but you are actually thinking about your crazy day then this is not self-care! If you are drinking that glass of wine mindfully, enjoying the view, feeling how the wine feels on your tongue, savoring the flavor and feeling the glass on your lips then you are doing self-care!
The energy behind the two is very different! Keeping this in mind, why don’t you plan some time for yourself to do some actual self-care this week?
While doing your chosen activity, notice your thoughts. How is your body feeling? Where are your emotions at? Being present in your self-care activity is what makes it an act of caring for yourself. Think of it this way: If you were caring for a friend would you focus on them or would you focus on your to-do list, planning your next activity or ruminating on your day or would you give them your full attention? You deserve that same attention!
The following is a short list of some activities you can do for self-care but remember the most important part is that you give yourself that time and attention while you perform them.
Go for a walk.
While walking, take in the sights, sounds and smells of nature. Pay attention to how your body moves while you walk. What is your breathing like?
Read a book.
Really read the book. If it is a self-help or personal growth book, focus on the words and lessons from a place of curiosity instead of a place of judgement or trying to fix yourself.
Have a spa day.
Choose your favorite salts or oils to put in the bath, pick your favorite music to listen to or enjoy the silence. Make and use a facial mask or body scrub. Here are some links to cool homemade spa treatments http://www.wholeliving.com/136432/home-spa-guide#end or http://www.thefitindian.com/diy-homemade-spa-treatments/ or search https://wellnessmama.com/.
Enjoy your favorite meal.
Either cook yourself something special or go out for your favorite meal. Actually, taste the food, enjoy it…. No guilt or judgement on what you should or should not be eating.
Go to a gym, take part in a class that excites you. While performing it do it because it is fun and exciting, no self judgements!
Make sure whatever it is that you do, do it with the intention that you deserve this time, you are worth it and you are doing it because you love yourself! If you set the proper intention before you start the activity, then you are going to actually be doing self-care rather than just checking off another thing on your to-do list!