Self-care is one of those 'hot topics' at the moment. There's a lot to say about the benefits of self-care, and yet it's still sometimes confused with self-indulgence.
Self-care looks different for everyone, at different times. The following, for example, are all self-care activities that are valid, helpful, necessary and I highly recommend everyone does more of them.
have a bath
eat a cheeky fast food meal
book a spa day
binge on Netflix for a whole day
read that book that’s been gathering dust
These are just some examples that have the potential to support us in our daily live: helping us to recharge, re-energise, or just unwind and relax after a busy day or week.
But what about those things that are more internal: more about what we think and feel?
This is where self-care gets very real, deep and meaningful. Real self-care attends to our inner experience as much as our outer experience.
When we set boundaries, both emotional and physical, we are self-caring. When we say “no, not today”, we are being true to ourselves and honouring the fact that we need space and time for ourselves and that we cannot be there for our loved ones all the time…we need to be there for ourselves some of the time too.
Finding ways to meet our needs without stepping over our loved ones’ needs, time or boundaries, is self-care.
When we meet our own needs first, when we find time to take care of ourselves, we will be happier, calmer, and more able to engage with people in our lives. We will be more able to help those in need, to listen to those that need to talk, to be there.
Being present is important. If deep-down we wish we had said 'no' to the dinner party, but went anyway, we won’t enjoy the party environment and we will resent ourselves – and maybe even those who invited us! – and this will affect our wellbeing.
It's not easy to start making these self-care changes, but the key is in starting! The first 'no' is the hardest, but you'll find that the world doesn’t end when you say it. Taking these first steps will encourage you to practise it more and more, being more congruent and real to who you are, what you need and how you want your life and relationships to be.
The above are just a few ways I’ve learned to practise self-care, through personal experience and also through observing others. I make these suggestions to my clients as well, and seeing them evolve into people that care about themselves more and not just everyone else is fantastic, rewarding and an honour to see!
I encourage you today to start thinking about your own needs, your boundaries, your life and relationships and see how self-care can be a helpful tool to improve how all these happen in your life, for your benefit and the benefit of your relationships.
Karin Brauner has written a book to help you integrate self-care into your life. 20 Self-Care Habits can help you develop your strengths, use your resources, and therefore improve your life and relationships.