Making Time for Self-Care
You may have heard this Audre Lorde quote before. "Self-care is not about self-indulgence, it is about self-preservation." The truth of it is, yes, self-care is an essential element of health. It means taking the time to listen and care for what your body, mind and spirit need. Without making deliberate intentions to do so, we become more prone to stress, anxiety and exhaustion. Our work, schooling and relationships can suffer. It can become difficult to care about the task at hand or the people you’re with, especially if they are dependent upon you. But what many people don’t recognize is the relationship in which you have with yourself begins to suffer, too. And for some, this can lead to devastating consequences. When we neglect asserting ourselves and attending to our needs, we can easily begin to lose sight of who we are as individuals and what we inherently value. Our lives become disconnected and sometimes feel meaningless. If you ever find yourself in this situation or realize that you are currently facing this problem know that by learning and practicing different acts of self-care you can rebuild and restore this connection within yourself. Sometimes, self-care may involve taking a bubble bath, curling up with a good book or catching up with a friend over a cup of coffee. Maybe it means counting stars in the night sky, blowing bubbles, dancing to your favorite song or cuddling with your pet. It can be dressing up or deciding to wear sweats for the day. It can be getting outside to breathe in some fresh air or hitting the snooze button a few more times because your body aches for more rest. It could even be taking the time to do your laundry or knowing when the laundry can wait. But self-care doesn’t stop there. Acts such as dreaming and setting new goals for yourself are forms of self-care. Maybe it means prioritizing a to-do list or ripping up the insanely long list you already have going. At other times it might mean setting new boundaries with people or reinforcing old ones. Saying “NO” when you really want to because let’s face it, you’re really not that interested. Saying "YES" when you really want to because you know you’re worth it AND you completely deserve it. It can be expressing your feelings and sharing your opinions regardless of your fear of judgement from others. It might be challenging negative beliefs and committing to reframing more positive ones. It may be learning how to disempower certain labels and distortions you have around food and your body. It’s letting yourself enjoy food and love your body. Self-care can be looking for meaning or lessons learned through our failures, losses and setbacks and deciding to focus on those insights to strategize a new game plan. It’s giving yourself more credit than you ever would and giving yourself a break when you need to, both physically and mentally. It can be as simple as taking a few deep breaths. Perhaps it means kicking your inner critic and its' old friend perfection to the curb and telling yourself your best is enough, and that your best will vary from each day. It’s reminding yourself that you’re enough. It can be an act of forgiveness, letting go of old baggage, allowing time for heartache to heal, facing fear straight in the eye or learning to accept what is. Even the act of asking someone for help, especially when all of the above seems impossible, is also an important form of self-care. At the end of the day self-care is one of the truest acts of self-love and self-respect. By taking time to engage in self-care you are committing time to yourself to promote patience, compassion, connection, encouragement, nurturance and acceptance within yourself. You are allowing flexibility, balance and mindfulness to take form in your life. You learn what set of values are important to you and you become more in control and confident in the decisions you make because you are attending to those values. You learn to take off your mask and become, unapologetically, true to yourself no matter what anyone thinks. Self-care ultimately helps you maintain your health and allows you to function more effectively, granting you the ability to make meaningful contributions that will enhance your life and the lives around you. Self-care is an investment in yourself, your life and your future. It is an extraordinary gift you can give yourself that keeps on giving. What act of self-care can you start giving yourself today?