I often find that there is a lot of misconception around the concept of selfcare. I wholeheartedly believe that true selfcare is not an indulgence but a necessity.
It all starts with the realisation that
YOU are the most important and worthwhile investment that you will make in your life
Once you assimilate this truth deep inside, you will find the will and the time to do what is needed.
There are not many things I love more than helping women like you to feel more empowered, confident to make the changes that are needed, and take care of yourself without any guilt. This is something that I feel strongly about since I know first hand what it is like to be drowning in overwhelm and feeling completely helpless and demotivated. But more on that later!
We need to stop believing that in order to be a good wife/mother/daughter/sister, we need to put everyone else above us on our list.
We need to face and address our own limiting belief that we ourselves do not deserve the love, care, and affection that we shower upon others.
All I can say is that we do ourselves (and our families, the society, and the world at large) a great disservice if we do not take care of ourselves and share our unique gifts with the world.
Selfcare is NOT selfish
Self care is also NOT selfish, indulgent, time consuming, or a luxury! It is a necessity and needs to be a part of everyone's daily routine. It is about tuning into yourself and giving yourself what you need emotionally, physically, and spiritually on a regular basis. It is only when you start taking care of yourself deeply and intentionally that you start making choices that are free of guilt and obligation.
We do this by paying attention to ourselves, connecting with our thoughts, and having more control over our actions. This kind of awareness forms the basis of any kind of self care practice.
Make it work for YOU
It is certainly possible for you to find a version of self care practice that works best for you so that you are most likely to continue with the routine even when you are incredibly busy.
As women and even as parents, we need to learn to take good care of ourselves and set a good example for our children so that they too can internalise this from an early age. This is especially true for mothers as we are the primary role models for our daughters.
As women, we are natural givers and caretakers not only for our children but very often our entire family. However, we also tend to be really bad at taking care of ourselves since we are most likely to be conditioned to take care of others first, always. As I often joke with my clients, for many of us, even our pets are higher in the list of things that we want to take care of than ourselves!
You cannot pour from an empty cup
There will definitely be situations where we will need to put our needs on hold for a while and take care of what needs to be tended to. This is what I did when our daughter was extremely unwell and in the ICU for 3 weeks. We struggled through extremely challenging times for many years and in 2015 saw the light at the end of the tunnel when we came across Functional Medicine. She eventually healed her gut and overcame her severe health issues over the next couple of years.
This difficult phase of my life taught me the importance of taking care of myself so that I could take care of her the way she needed me to. I realised that I had to ensure that I did not burn out since I knew that my daughter would take time to heal and I had to be there for her and for my family. The lessons that I learned at that time have stayed with me and made me who I am today.
Luckily for most of us, for the most part of our lives, we are not in this kind of situation. That means that you can start taking care of yourself from TODAY. You know deep down inside what you need to do in order to take care of yourself. But if you do not prioritise it and schedule it so that it fits into your busy life, you will never find the time.
Self care is NOT time consuming
It is also important not to get stuck in an “all or nothing” mindset where you end doing nothing at all. You do NOT need a huge chunk of time to take care of yourself on a regular basis. You can do a lot even 5 minutes- calming yoga poses, stretches, deep breathing, listening to uplifting/calming music, indulging in a hobby, reading, and many more.
Find a few things that work for you and break them down into smaller pieces that you can do in a day if you need to. The key is to incorporate them into your daily routine with as little disruption as possible. What I find (and research shows) that having a daily morning and evening routine really helps in this regard.
Give yourself permission to PAUSE and start taking care of yourself starting today by including the following into your routine (choose one or more and find your own way)!
- Move your body everyday- find a physical activity that you really like and schedule a time to do it regularly. It does not really matter what you do (swimming, running, jogging, yoga, aerobics), it matters that you DO IT.
- Relaxing by listening to music or reading a book
- Getting a regular massage done
- Writing in a journal on a regular basis
- Learning and/or indulging in a hobby on a regular basis
- Connecting with others and maintaining meaningful relationships
- Setting a daily QUIET time for some kind of self reflection
- Playing- with your children, pets, by yourself or some sports that you enjoy
Give yourself permission
Finally, give yourself permission to try out what works for you and what does not. Give yourself permission to fail and permission to put yourself first, even though it might feel really uncomfortable at times. Even if you feel guilty at times like I do. Even then.
You will soon realise that when you start taking care of yourself from a place when you start taking care of yourself deeply and intentionally, you start making choices free of guilt and obligation.You are finally able to be there for yourself and others from a place of strength and freedom.