As we speed up in the race towards the Christmas finish line, today’s post is about two small, but extremely important, little words.
Never more important than right now – in the midst of Crazy Season!
So, what exactly is self care? What do we mean by it?
To put it simply – it means looking after our physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual needs.
Self care means taking care of our whole selves and putting our own needs first.
But, isn’t that just selfish?
As women, aren’t we programmed to put everybody else’s needs first? Isn’t it our job as wives, mothers, daughters, friends, etc. to take care of everybody else before we even think about ourselves?
That’s what many of us have been raised and conditioned to believe.
It’s not true!
Why Putting Yourself Last is Selfish
Think of a spectrum where being totally selfish and self-absorbed sits at one end.
Complete martyrdom (putting everyone else’s needs first at great personal cost) sits at the other.
True self care sits in the centre of the spectrum.
Practicing self care means valuing yourself and what you bring to the table.
It’s a statement we make to ourselves and the world that says we matter. Our needs are important.
It’s the way we expess love and kindness and compassion to ourselves.
When we understand and practice true self care, we are able to give to the people in our lives from a place of generosity.
From a place of genuinely wanting to give. From a place of love. For ourselves and others.
When we practice poor self care we give from a place of resentment. We feel like everybody wants a piece of us. We give from an empty well.
When we practice poor self care, we ignore our own needs and, in doing so, unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
Stressed out and burnt out
Poor self care means our physical and emotional health suffers. We feel stressed out and burnt out. At that point we start tipping the scales towards martyrdom and ‘poor me’ victim thinking.
The result is that when we give our time and energy from this place we give out a lot of negativity. In addition to our depleted resources, our loved ones also get our resentment, our exhaustion, our anger and all the other crap emotions we happen to be carrying within us.
Not exactly the recipe for happy, successful relationships!
So, how can we make self care a practice and a priority and do it in a way that makes us feel good, not guilty?
Here are my Five Top Tips:
(1) Truly understand the importance of Self Care
Re-read the introduction to this blog post! Really let it sink in until you get it. Putting yourself last serves no-one, least of all you. That’s the truth!
The best way to take care of the people you love and care about is to take care of yourself first.
(2) Create your personal Self Care map
Take some time to consider what great self care looks like for you. Get crystal clear about what taking really good care of yourself means. What are your needs? Be specific. Write them down.
commit to better self care starting from now and choose one thing from your list to do for yourself.
And then do it – no excuses!
(3) Learn to say NO more often!
See last week’s post, Part 3, for tips on how to say NO in a guilt-free way.
(4) Do a cost/benefit analysis
Ask yourself what it will cost you if you don’t adopt a healthy self care practice. What will the cost be to your physical and emotional health and to your relationships?
Is it a price you’re willing to pay?
What are some of the ways you and your loved ones will benefit and be positively impacted when you’re taking great care of yourself?
What are the positive pay-offs for you and your relationships?
(5) Make it a habit
Incorporate self care into your daily life. Make it part of your routine.
At first it may feel like an effort, something else you need to remember to do. But if you are consistent you will soon create healthy new habits. You won’t need to think about it, except when you notice how good it makes you feel.
The aim is to make your self care practice as much of a habit as brushing your teeth.
Bonus Tip (6) – Be kind to yourself
Practice self compassion.
Don’t beat yourself up.
When you find your thoughts speaking in the scathing, harsh voice of your inner critic because you ‘failed’ at something or weren’t ‘good enough.’
Think about what you would say to somebody you truly love and cherish in that situation. Say that to yourself.
So, what will your personalised self care map look like? What new healthy habits will you create to make 2018 your best year yet? I’d love to know in the comments below!
In the meantime, Merry Christmas!
And here’s to having the Christmas you really, really want!
Note: This blog post is one in a series of five about how to Survive Christmas with your Sanity Intact! If you missed the earlier ones, here are the links to Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Check back next week for the final post in the series, Part 5.
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