Do you take care of yourself? I mean beyond basic hygiene, sustenance and sleep. What does it mean to truly take care of yourself? The term “self-care” is one we have all heard but what does it really mean? Is it Starbucks and a manicure? It might be, for some. What you need in order to truly care for yourself is entirely unique to you.
I tend to sacrifice my own needs and desires for the benefit of others. Most of the time the “others” in this scenario didn’t ask me to do this, they probably don’t even know of my own personal sacrifice on their behalf. I am not a saint and I don’t prioritize others over myself out of some unusual goodness within. I make these choices because I more easily see value in other people’s happiness than I see in my own. Over the last few years I have discovered that motherhood can easily take this tendency to an all consuming way of life. Of course parents will give anything for their children, at any cost to themselves! But is that really what the child needs, or even wants? If you are drained, unfulfilled and out of touch with who you are deep down, are you really the best example you could be for your children? I don’t believe a person can truly be happy if they aren’t investing time and energy in themselves. When I made the decision in my own life to dedicate part of each day to self-care I was still sceptical and hesitant. I’m not a manicure and facials kind of person, and back then that kind of superficial pampering was all you could find about how to do self-care. The information and practical advice available has exploded since then but when I first started looking I needed to turn away from the advice online and look within myself for the answers.
When, where, what, how, and why? These are the things we need to ask and answer before we can effectively implement self-care into our lives. Self-care is just like any other healthy habit, difficult to maintain, easy to forget. Train yourself to prioritize this part of your day. Teach yourself how important you are.
WHY – Your “Why” is the most valuable motivator. Sadly, “because it’s good for me” oftentimes isn’t enough to keep us motivated. Dig down deep and analyze why you want to make this change in your life. Keep asking why until you get to the real heart of it. For me it went something like this: because I want to take better care of myself; because I want to feel better about myself; because I want to be happy; because I want to be a good example of what true happiness looks like for my daughter. I didn’t wake up one day and realize I needed to make a change in my life out of nowhere. I have always wanted to feel better about myself, I have always wanted to be happy, it was never enough to make me do something about it. The change came when I had a life changing motivation, my child. There is a trigger for all of us, that wakes us up and spurs us toward making a change. Recognize that trigger and use it to fuel your change!
WHEN – To decide when your dedicated time will be you may need to try out a few different options before you find the perfect fit. Find a time where you can be alone without interruptions. Are you usually the last one to bed? Is there a break in your day that you can steal away for an hour? For me it is early morning, before anyone else is awake. I have found that by the end of the day I’m too exhausted to dedicate any valuable energy to myself. I also love the boost of positive energy I get when I start my day off with self-care. Not everyone is a morning person, but a book I stumbled on called “The Miracle Morning” suggests anyone can be a morning person. It was an inspiring book and really helped me establish a morning habit which I was later able to really transform to my own personal needs.
WHERE – There are many factors that could come into play regarding where your dedicated space for self-care is. It can change but be thoughtful about the place you choose. Your self-care place needs to be a space that makes you feel good. Don’t try to find peace in a home office that brings up feelings of stress and urgency. Don’t try to focus on yourself in a room full of distractions. Surround yourself with beautiful things that make you feel happy! Think about colors, or images, sounds and smells, set the tone of the day through ambiance. For me the need is nature. I am very fortunate to live in a nature abundant area. It’s easy for me to step outside and be surrounded by lush green life, the smells of life in full bloom, the sounds of rushing water. But I also live in a place where it rains often, so some days it’s more like opening up my large living room doors and lighting a fire in the fireplace. What is important in my surroundings is nature in any form possible. I suggest everyone incorporate nature in some way, it can be as simple as having a house plant next to your chair!
- WHAT – The options of what you do for self-care are endless! Here are some ideas to help inspire you! In the end only you know what you need most!
- Gratitude Journal
- Story Writing
- Spiritual Development
- Career Development
- Physical Pampering
- Nature Walk
- Ideal Life Visualizations
- Hobby Development/Discovery
- Self Improvement Books
- Self-love Journaling
HOW – With so many options how do you decide what to do? If we tried to do them all it would take all day! There is a concept called the Wheel of Life that helps assess what areas of your life need the most attention at this current stage of your life. Google “Wheel of Life” and look through the different variations for one that speaks to you. Honestly analyze your satisfaction in each area of your life. Identify which areas of your life need more attention and design your routine around things that will improve these areas. You can start by imagining your ideal life! Sometimes we let our own self-limiting beliefs and negative society limitations hold us back from what we really want out of life. Image your life if anything was possible! What is holding you back from that life? Do you need to improve your self confidence? Do you need to take steps to learn new skills? Do you need to rearrange your priorities to be more in line with where you want to go? Do you need to allow more time for fun? These are things you can work on during your self-care time that will dramatically improve your life!
A manicure and facial can be nice, and maybe just what you need sometimes to relax. But that is not the only type of self-care. Make time everyday to treat yourself with kindness and love. Make an effort to improve your life everyday, otherwise you are just standing still. As a society we have prioritized “productivity” over happiness and life fulfillment. Help make a change for the future of your own life and those around you! Less than a week after starting my own morning routine people started to notice a difference in me. My husband noticed the biggest change of course. I was happier, less irritable and more relaxed. Not everyone will change the world but everyone controls the path of their own life. Take the reins of your life and implement a routine of happiness!