“Have you thought about enjoying a cup of tea? Walking around the block? Or how about a bubble bath?”
We’ve all heard suggestions similar to the ones above. Often ideas likes these are meant to help promote our well being, or our self-care. But what is self-care? And is it as simple as having a cup of tea? To answer these questions we have to take a deeper look at why we need self-care and how use it.
Why Even Bother with Self-Care?
Self-care isn’t about adding another task on top of your already busy day, it’s about creating a balance so you can go forward with energy, clarity and compassion.Self-care means you are showing yourself kindness through your actions and thoughts. Many times we are presented with situations in our lives where we feel we must put other people or tasks first, and this can leave us feeling drained and exhausted. In fact many people may feel socialized to put their needs last, seeing it as dutiful or heroic. Unfortunately, this is not helpful to you. Operating from a place where you feel emotionally and physically exhausted often results in poor decision making and a less authentic connection.
Being aware of how we understand self-care and our possible resistance can be key in shifting some of the roadblocks we may be facing. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I feel worthy of taking the time and energy needed for myself?
- Have I been taught to put others (or other tasks such as a job) before my own well being?
- Am I afraid if I put myself first Ill loose my value in my relationship?
- Are there any people in my life who engage in self-care in a positive way? If so what do I notice about them?
- Are there people who would support me in making a shift towards self-care activities?
- What would help enrich the following areas of my life: physical, emotional and spiritual
If self-care is a concept that you’ve had difficulty putting into practice, boundaries can be a major aid in moving towards more meaningful self-care. A boundary is a limit you set. If you think of a boundary like a line in the sand, you can stand on one side and someone else can stand on the other. This line helps you understand where you end and the other person begins. Often when dealing with issues– such as experiencing a partner’s addiction, a child struggling in school, or difficult times for a friend– it can be difficult not to pour our entire energy into helping the other people around us, ignoring our own needs. However, when you have a healthy boundary you can choose when and for how long you cross over into each other’s areas. When we struggle with boundaries often we end up having people camp out on our side with no sight of ever getting our own space back. Alternatively, some peoples line in the sand can look like stonewalls. This too can be challenging, as it is hard to let people in and almost impossible to ask for help. Boundaries are meant to be flexible protectors where you can let some people in and out and YOU are the one who calls the shots for your space. Having healthy self-care and having healthy boundaries often go hand in hand. By having clear boundaries you can allow yourself to take the time you need for you and normalize this self-care routine with those around you without guilt, shame, or blame. To reflect on this further ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I typically act for myself or do I react to others around me?
- Am I afraid to ask for help?
- Do I communicate what I need and enforce it through my thoughts and actions?
- Am I ok saying no when I need to?
- Am I ok saying yes when I need to?
Making it Your Own
Having awareness and boundaries helps begin the foundation of making your self-care sustainable and meaningful. Everyones self-care is going to look different. The important part is to start in a way that feels manageable to you. This could mean that your self-care includes taking a hot shower every day because you need a few minutes to yourself, to feel physical relaxation, and to feel like you have given yourself confidence in taking care of your body. Self-care is something that keeps evolving and shifting, just like you. It is important to stay aware of yourself and make sure that you are giving your body, mind, and spirit the time, tenderness, and compassion it deserves. So, if you feel like after engaging in awareness, setting boundaries, and being mindful of your needs that a cup of tea will help, then go for it! This is your journey!
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