You can’t drive a car without any fuel.
So why do so many of us insist on pushing ourselves at work and at home; giving to others without stopping to refuel and recharge our own batteries? Somewhere along the way, many people have come to associate self-care with selfishness, but nothing could be further from the truth. Since childhood, I struggled with people pleasing. It was common to hear me saying sorry for saying sorry. Everyone else’s needs came first. But when I decided to go into the helping profession, I swore to myself I would not burn out before turning 30. I am grateful for the sage wisdom of a therapist during my internship who helped me reframe self-care as not selfish but rather self-preserving. I have written about this in many of my blogs and share this with almost all of my clients who too seem to be caught in an exhausting pattern of giving of themselves without refilling their tanks. Self-care is not about self-indulgence or a luxury. It does not have to cost any money or take a huge amount of time. But I firmly believe it is a necessity and the more we give to ourselves the more we have to give to others.
We can gradually and gently take steps towards loving ourselves more. Last year I wrote about my goal of weekly bubble baths (Gift of a Fresh Start). I emphasized the importance of making our goals SMART and am grateful to say this has now become both a habit and ritual I look forward to and enjoy deeply. This year, given the research on the benefits of massage and Dr. Christine Northrup’s reminder in a recent webinar that massaging the ball of the foot stimulates all of the major organs in our body, I’ve decided to add a simple act of giving myself a hand and foot massage before bed. Music has the power to both sooth the soul and inspire and energize. Practicing affirmations and soaking in good experiences are lovely gifts anyone can give to themselves to shift their emotional and, in turn, physical state of being.
What excites you or energizes you? Stop shoulding on yourself and instead seek out opportunities to do the things that bring you the feelings you desire as much as possible throughout your week. If you feel disconnected with yourself, overwhelmed by too much screen time or multiple demands, simply start by logging out and tuning in to your internal state. Meditation and journaling are great gateways to the soul. For me, reminding myself how energized and invigorated I feel from nature has allowed me to get up early to shovel and bundle up to walk on those frigid days when it would be oh so easy to jump in the warm car. Music, whether relaxing or a good beat, always has a therapeutic effect on me. Celebrate when you give yourself this gift of self-care. Leave guilt at the door and instead celebrate the beautiful modeling you are doing for your children and others. For more ideas around self-care check out Jennifer Louden’s The Woman’s Comfort Book or Cheryl Richardson who has devoted her coaching career to empowering people to make self-care a vital part of their lives.
I know what I should be doing but just can’t seem to make it happen.
So often I see the major roadblock to a regular self-care practice being more about what we feel we deserve. A low sense of self-worth or internalized messages of being a burden or as Cheryl says having a weak want muscle block this essential act of giving. Next month I will be sharing some of my own journey as well as professional insights about the gift of growing up again.
In the mean time, come join us on a Thursday for our weekly walk-in counselling clinic as a first step on your journey of self-care. Whether you believe it or not, you deserve it!