What is self-care? The Oxford English Dictionary defines self-care as “The practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s well-being and happiness, in particular during times of stress.” So, it’s exactly what it sounds like: taking care of oneself. It’s an activity or practice that is embraced solely for the purpose of one’s well-being.
But what is a practice? It’s the actual application of an idea, belief, or method; as opposed to simply theorizing about to it. We have all heard the term self-care, but how many of us have a practice around it? Something we intentionally incorporate into our lives.
We all get caught up in our daily lives of work, kids, relationships, errands, aging parents, and more, so much so, that we often leave little time for ourselves. Mornings usually consist of some version of; hopping in and out of the shower, slapping on makeup in the car, getting everyone else out the door and eating breakfast (if we eat at all) while sitting at our desk. We’re very busy. There’s no time for self-care then.
Evenings are no better with supper, which perhaps you pick up on the way home, homework and dealing with the problems that the day has delivered to the rest of the family. Then you fall exhausted into bed. Again, no time there either.
Even the idea of self-care can feel indulgent when there are people relying on you. If you’re in this camp, and the very thought of putting yourself first makes you feel uncomfortable and selfish, think about when you are on a plane and the flight attendants go through the safety drill. They always say that if you are travelling with small children you should put your own mask on first. Why do they say that? It’s simple, you cannot care for others until you look after yourself.
What’s a Girl to Do?
Life is a whirlwind and there is clearly no time for self care, right?
But here’s the thing; if we don’t find the time or intentionally make the effort to care for ourselves we can become worn out, lack energy, lose perspective and be plagued by physical and mental ailments.
While it seems like there’s no time, what if I told you that by taking just five minutes a day for yourself, you can amplify your ability to accomplish everything else in your life. Five minutes spent on you will calm your mind, which allows you to approach everything else from a more abundant and balanced place.
Some Suggestions for Quick Five Minute Self Care Boosters:
Drink a cup of warm water upon rising
Go for a walk-in nature
Lie in Savasana for 5 minutes and just breathe
Express gratitude for who and what is in your life (gratitude has been proven to give both the giver and receiver the same heart-centered lift)
Dance around your living room to your favorite song
Once you have incorporated five minutes of self-care into your life you can look for other opportunities to build on your practice.
Go to a women’s retreat weekend
Visit an old friend
Sign up for yoga or Tai Chi classes
Go to a Women’s Wellness Circle near you
Take a course or class in something that interests you
Read a good book
If you need some ideas on how to approach change and incorporate your own self-care practice, check out last month’s blog by Karen Armstrong.
Make Self-Care A Priority
Of all the changes you resolve to make in your life for the year ahead, make taking care of yourself your number one goal. The investment in yourself will give you an amazing rate of return. You will feel calmer and more ready to tackle the ups and downs of life. Your friends and family will also benefit from having a better you. And the calmness and grounding that self-care can give you showers out around you and can impact the lives of strangers. When you feel balanced and good it is easier to be kind to others, share your beautiful smile with strangers, and make their day a bit brighter.
Whether you do five minutes of self-care everyday or something else that feeds your soul, it doesn’t matter. It is about what works best for you, as long as you remember it is a practice and not just something you do when you’re exhausted.
If we think about it this way – self-care is not indulgence, it is a gift you give yourself and everyone around you.
Make today the day you start to care for yourself with the same love, kindness and forgiveness that you give to others. You are worth it.