Self-care is a term being used a lot lately but what does it really mean? Merriam Webster dictionary defines it as “care for oneself.” Ok. But, what does caring for oneself mean? Basically, self-care means taking steps to make sure you are healthy physically, emotionally and spiritually. I can hear some of you already saying self-care is just being selfish. My response to this is to think about your intent regarding self-care. Are you always focused on what is best for you, or do you like to help others? Others may be saying you don’t have time to do things for yourself. You’re too busy! You have too many other things to do! I get it. Life is hectic. However, I have learned through my work and personal experience that I’m responsible for myself, no one else. I either choose to make time for me or I don’t. It’s all about choices. (See my blog, “Door #1, Door #2, or Door #3).”
Put Yourself First
One way to put self-care into perspective is to think about the safety procedures when flying. Before the plane takes off the flight attendant walks through what to do if there is a drop in air pressure. Oxygen masks will come down. You are told to put your own mask on before helping others. Is this being selfish or common sense? Think about it. If you don’t put your mask on first, you will pass out. If you are unconscious how can you be helpful to anyone else, including yourself? So, it’s the same with self-care. If we are not making sure we are being our best, how can we help others be their best?
Now that you understand the importance of self-care, you may wonder how to implement it. One way is to learn to say no. If your schedule is busy, don’t over commit. Chances are if you say yes just because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, even though you know you don’t have the time, the result will be you will fail in your commitment. This will hurt the other person’s feelings anyway and make you feel worse! So be realistic!
Other, simple, steps of self-care include building a little relaxation into your day or your week. If you have a busy day, put the kids to bed 15 minutes early and take a warm, soothing bath, watch your favorite show or read a book. Just do something that YOU enjoy. Maybe you and your partner can take a walk. Bring your dog along, if you have one. This way you all get exercise and some quality time together. Keep it simple!
Keep It Up
Once you are able to implement small activities of self-care to calm and soothe yourself, you can start adding bigger activities every once in a while, such as going out to dinner or even getting away for a weekend. For those of you with kids, trust me, they would love to spend a night or two with their grandparents or their best friend. If you don’t have family, swap nights with another couple who has kids. Reciprocity works wonders! Being good to yourself only makes you feel better. When you feel better, your relationships benefit which in turn makes you feel happier. It is an upward spiral. Enjoy the ride!