Self care includes all the decisions you make and practices you use for yourself and your family to stay physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy. Self care allows you to take responsibility for your own health and well-being in a way that empowers you to know yourself and initiate change in your life. You are free from waiting for some one to “tell you what to do” or take care of you. You are able to receive the care of others, but you are also able to notice your own physical and emotional needs and find ways of tending them.
In order to clarify this, here are a few things that self care is NOT:
- Self care is not simply indulging yourself with desserts or pampering activities, especially if these do not contribute (or even detract from) your overall health.
- Self care is not selfishness. Although some may be accused of being selfish when they are legitimately meeting their own needs, self care is actually helpful in replenishing a person so that he or she can give in meaningful ways to others.
- Self care is not a one-time effort, it is an ongoing dance that includes trying new strategies and noticing one’s experience throughout the day.
- Self care is not necessarily divorced from our regular daily activities. Although self care may sometimes require time away, it can often happen in the midst of our life as it is. Taking a break from our task list and taking time to play and laugh with our kids may be replenishing to us and to them without needing to “get away” from the family.
- Self care is not a static practice. At particularly stressful times in our lives, it may require us to turn inward or to lower our standards in certain aspects of our lives (ex. the cleanliness of our house or the amount we exercise). We may need to let go of practices that have served as self care for us in the past, so that we can care for ourselves at deeper or more basic levels.
- Self care is not the same for every person. Each person must determine what works for her. Although it is helpful to hear other people’s strategies, it is important to remember that these are not meant to be prescriptions, they are meant to be inspiring as we find our own rhythms.
And, here are a few things that self care IS:
- Self care is regular, preventive activities that help you to feel physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally healthy.
- Self care is valuing yourself enough to choose activities and foods and relationships that replenish you, rather than choosing ones (perhaps out of obligation) that are harmful to your body or drain your energy unnecessarily.
- Self care is valuing other people so much that you prioritize your own health so that you can give more fully to them.
- Self care is taking responsibility for your life and your actions in a way that does not blame other people for your unmet needs.
- Self care is knowing yourself well enough to identify your needs and being courageous enough to change your plans to meet those needs.
Finally, if you’d like to read a few examples of self care practices from other women, CLICK HERE.