I am in a place of deeply considering what ‘self-care’ looks like and how it happens for us and our clients when we are in the middle of transition, stress and possibly anxiety. I find myself in some of those places currently and as I watch myself, I find it very interesting.
Historically, I think I thought that self-care was in some way selfish and arrogant (to care for myself before I care for others) and was something to possibly hide or at the very least, deprecate in some way. As I have become more enlightened ;-), of course I have come to realize the importance of self-care and have felt the impact of not caring for self.
We all have certainly heard the metaphor of being on an airplane and the steward’s training directions, “Put the oxygen mask on yourself first…” Interestingly, however, this seems to come with a moderate ‘hook’ of “…so then you can care for others (especially children).” This is also particularly aimed at those of us (frequently, but not always women) who tend to take care of all others before themselves.
My Perspective on Self-Care
I have a bit different way of thinking of all this. I have two sayings that I have created:
- ‘Self-care is paramount,’ and
- ‘Am I giving OF myself or, am I giving myself AWAY?’
I use these sayings with my clients and myself at all moments that I can. If I am giving OF myself, it means that there is plenty of me to give. I have cared for myself (rested, eaten well, not overcommitted) and I am in a place of abundant resources – both mentally and physically. If I am giving myself AWAY, I have already depleted my resources and am now operating at a deficit. Here is where the cost starts to come in. The cost can show up as overtiredness, physical issues, illness, depression, anxiety, procrastination and a laundry list of other deficits. If this is the case or even could be the case I say, “When in doubt, refer to #1.”
Self-care must be aimed at self. It is for the edification and health of self. For me, it needs to be held that way or I can veer off onto the path of “…so I can be there for others” which will ultimately lead me to not being in self-care. Self-care for me looks pretty simple (but not always easy.) It consists of being gentle, eating well, resting, movement, loving, creating joy, slowing down and not over-committing.
Being Intentional and Gentle Delivers Abundance
I’m not suggesting for a moment that we don’t have things that we HAVE to do or that we will not have moments where we are operating at a deficit. I’m suggesting the practice as an ever-reaching intention that we consistently strive for. As I have done so, I have deeply realized that I become much more productive and efficient when I am operating on abundant resources. Being gentle with self and making self-care paramount actually rubs up against/debunks the notion of “if I just move faster, I’ll get more done.”
I’d challenge you to ask yourself a few questions:
- What does self-care look like to you?
- What do you do when self-care breaks down and how do you return?
- What’s the impact to not caring for self?
Please share with me your ideas and thoughts. I’d love to have a lively conversation about the pratfalls and impacts of not caring for self as well as your strategies/ideas about creative ways that YOU do it!