In a society that views putting ones needs first as selfish and over-indulgent,the subject of self-care can be a sensitive one.More so when you are a woman who is supposed to put everyone above yourself. However, looking at the high number of women experiencing chronic fatigue and on the verge of a burning out, it is clear that this practice is flawed.
Ask me,I’ve been there.
About 10 years ago I found myself flat on my back unable to take care of myself and the people I thought I was sacrificing everything for. I was exhausted,highly irritable and feeling disconnected with myself. After a stint in hospital,I made sure to pencil in self-care in my routine.
I wish I could say I’ve been religious in following my routine.
‘Life’ slowly crept back and the ‘busyness’ of being a woman,mother,wife and working woman took over and I found myself struggling again. I had to learn that self-care is not an event. To be successful,I have to make it part of my lifestyle. This is something I want other women to learn too.
What is self-care?
The word self-care seems self explanatory but our understanding may be limited. Self care is any activity that you voluntarily undertake which helps you maintain your physical,mental and emotional health ( so that time in hospital did not count as self-care). These activities must add to your life in a positive way and cause you no harm.So, no matter how happy it makes you feel, over indulging in alcohol or chocolates is not self care.Sorry.
Who needs to practice self care?
If you experience the following on an ongoing basis,it could be time you learn to practice self-care
- constantly feeling tired
- you are irritable
- you are forgetful
- you feel strange when not busy
- feeling stressed out by the many responsibilities
- ongoing feeling of overwhelm and unable to cope with daily activities
Why is self-care necessary?
I am sure the above reasons are enough for anyone to want to start practicing self care. Psychotherapist Jenine Steinberg, in her article 4 Reasons to Prioritize Self-Care , goes deeper into what I also think are important reasons to make self care priority.
Where routine self-care is lacking,stress may take over and lead to total burnout.Physical and mental health becomes at risk. Illness may result.You want to stop the wheels turning before you land in a deep dark place.
I have put together a very short list of ideas you can start practicing.Pick one or two and begin treating yourself like you would a dear friend.
7 Self care ideas to start practicing today
1.Take time to connect with nature. Relax under the stars and breath in fresh air with mindfulness. Take a walk along the beach and taste the salt in the air.Walk in the park and smell the flowers.Awaken all your senses as you reconnect with yourself in nature.
2.Be Selfish.Do something for no reason other than that you want to and it makes you happy.Be like a child and put the spotlight on you and allow yourself to glow in positive light.
3. Unplug. Switch off all your devices and just be.Even if it’s for an hour.I promise the moon will not fall from the sky because you are unreachable but you will marvel at the freedom of being unavailable.
4.Practice saying YES to yourself.Most of us have no problem saying YES,but it’s usually to things that we should be saying NO to. Think about it;what is your knee-jerk response when a girlfriend asks you out for drinks or a spa day? Do you immediately say yes or your first thoughts rush to whether this outing will fit your children’s or partner’s schedule?Do you consider it wasting money to treat yourself yet say yes without hesitation when your children ask for random treats?
5.Speak kindly to yourself. Most of us will have no friends if we spoke to them the way we speak to ourselves.Think carefully about the language you use in your head.It can build you up or break you down. It’s your choice.
6.Date yourself. Yes,just you and yourself. Pick a day,time,activity and place to be with yourself.Fill this time with positive things that bring you pure joy and satisfaction. Block it out in your diary, send out an out of office message an hang out a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign at your door. Make no compromises.
7.Eat for nourishment. Change the way you think about food. Imagine what will happen if we started to view healthy food as treat. I imagine it would be something we look forward to,something we crave. Healthy eating is a big part of the self care practice. A healthy body is better equipped to handle stress than one that is poorly fed.
8.Move. Your body has built in happy juices called endorphins which are released when you exercise. Find a form of exercise that fits your personality and lifestyle and enjoy it and you will experience joy.
This list is limited. The goal is to get you thinking and to help you start practicing self care like a boss in no time.Self-care is not an expensive,time consuming indulgence. It is a necessary expression of love for yourself.It helps decrease stress and increases productivity.It may help you avoid physical an mental illness.By loving yourself enough to prioritise yourself,you can approach your work,family and social relationships with a clear and happy mind.
The benefits of routinely practicing self care far outweigh the perceived expense in time and money. It’s in that spirit that I am hosting a 1 day Guilt-Free Self-Care Retreat for busy women who can only give themselves a day to focus on just filling up their cups because they know,you can not pour from an empty cup. If you are in Durban or know a special woman in Durban who deserves a day off,please come through,it promises to be a soul enriching event. Bookings are now open.
How and how often do you practice self-care? I’d love to hear from you.