Updated: Jul 25
Sure, it sounds like a lovely idea, but what exactly is self-care?
With International Self-Care Awareness Day falling on July 24th , I started thinking about my own approach to taking care of myself, and how celebrating conscious wellbeing is such a wonderful opportunity to experience the full holistic power of self-nurture.
I imagine some people confuse self-care with self-improvement, but they are not connected. Self-care is a process in which we become mindful of our own needs so we can more easily manifest an environment in which we receive the experience of self-nurture in real time, whereas self-improvement would indicate that there is something within us that is somehow defective and needs to be fixed before we become worthy. Self-care isn’t selfish. It is an act of self-respect and self-preservation.
You see those extra kilos? Self-care loves them. Didn’t get that promotion at work? Self-care isn’t concerned about any of that. I’m talking real-time self-acceptance and love. Throw some quiet time at your day to do or think about anything you want…and VOILA! You’re up to your freshly masked and moisturized face in self-appreciation. You could write a book about how awesome you are. In fact, with all this time you have given back to your incredible self, you just might do exactly that. In a nutshell, this is how self-care works.
My mum had 5 children, of whom I am the youngest. We were never known as a shy family – and till not known as a shy family, and it’s safe to say that she had her hands full every waking moment of the day. But I always remember the great pride my Mum took in creating space for her own wellbeing. She was a regular on stage at holiday camps accepting awards for ‘Most Glamorous Mum” and then, as my elder sister and brothers started their own families, she took the titles of “Most Glamorous Grandma” with her too. She was a very authentic Mum; a free spirit charged with the light of 5 heartbeats, and way beyond her time in both strength and serenity. For every ounce of herself she gave to us, she kept a piece behind for her own wellness - to balance herself – to not lose herself. For her, the act of self-care meant she had more to give to her children. We learned the times and the places – the quiet moments with her book in the garden – late in the evening with her skin care products in her bathroom – early in the evening with a glass of wine in her hand - those times and places where our Mum got to simply celebrate Patricia.
My definition of self-care is checking-in on “me” to make sure I am still functioning, mindful human being when the world feels like it has gone a bit mad – and let’s face it, the world has gone a bit mad. I get so sucked up in the vortex of my days that finding myself gets harder the longer I leave the search. I’m never totally frustrated or totally chill. There’s always an emotion lagging behind the others, or a need that has fallen in the shadows of something else. Taking care of them creates a balance that influences who I am in the world. I meditate, I go for a run along the river, I watch rescue puppies on Youtube – I throw quiet time on top of a seemingly endless day, and there I find my spiritual map ebbing and flowing through the kaleidoscope of thoughts and feelings and fears that make up the complex heartbeat that I am – that we all are.
Taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually sets the stage on which you get to shift from actor to audience.
Your body wants to move and breathe, so physical self-care means offering a healthy lifestyle that includes eating healthful food, drinking water, and getting fresh air and exercise. Your body is not sedentary, so it’s self-care shouldn’t be either.
I am a slave to my heart, and chances are you are no different. Your heart wants to love and find relationships with you and the people around you. Emotional self-care could be setting clear boundaries on your time and your energy, surrounding yourself with positive affirmations or celebrating yourself it both your physical and emotional manifestation. It’s all worthy of celebration, after all.
Your mind might appreciate attention to things that are in your sphere of influence (things you can control), or time for personal reflection where you celebrate inner experiences, thoughts, and feelings. You might cultivate self-awareness through things such as journaling or meditation.
Your spirit wants to connect with purpose – visualization, practicing gratitude, time in nature, being present in that quiet moment you have given back to yourself.
As with everything in life, it’s all a process. You learn how to find the right place and the right time, and it’s not always when or how you think. For example, this morning at 7 am I ran 5 miles along the river in the morning sun, and now I am writing this blog wearing a face mask. Running is like meditation to me, and skin care is my thing – likely a throwback from my Mum.
The question you need to ask yourself now is simple: what’s on your agenda today to celebrate…yourself? Today is July 24th, so what are you waiting for?