"If you don't take care of yourself, you won't be able to take care of others."
"Focusing on self-care changed my life."
"Take time for you."
"Self-care is self-love."
Have you heard any of these things or anything similar? We all believe them. We all agree. But why don't we follow this advice?
Well, some do. And they got it. They have found their balance... until tomorrow when things change and they have to find a new balance. Some will fall over then. But some continue to find a new balance each day, riding the oscillations of life. They may not need to read this post... of course in mindfulness, we are always curious and approach things with a beginner's mind, so maybe they will anyway:)
Others continue to do their best... sometimes taking a walk in nature... sometimes drinking lots of water... sometimes eating healthy.... sometimes being very prepared for each day... sometimes getting enough sleep... sometimes exercising regularly... sometimes meditating. That kind of describes me... the 'sometimes' girl.
Here's some of the good news... This is OK. Because life is a roller coaster. Life is not about staying the same each day. Nothing is constant but change.
We find something that works, and then we have a month of kids' concerts, and work deadlines, and maybe the seasonal flu goes through your entire family. And you feel like you've lost it. You spend so much time caring for everyone else and barely getting enough sleep that you have lost your self-care.... and self-loathing may even seep in.
What if I told you caring for others CAN be self-care.
It's about how you approach it all in your mind. When we have a lot on our plates... kids, jobs, activities, wellness, special occasions, etc., etc., etc.... we tend to let our self-care activities and attitudes go and then stress about letting them go. This stress causes suffering, and this suffering heightens our lack of 'self-care'. Yeah... beating yourself up about not taking care of yourself results in taking even less care of yourself. It's called 'feeling bad about feeling bad' in my mindfulness training.
However, what if taking your kid to her soccer game was part of your self-care? What if cooking supper for your family was part of taking care of yourself? What if meeting a work deadline was a piece of fulfilling your passion, hence self-care?
So many of my coaching clients get caught up in the busy-ness of life and create the idea that, 'I don't have time for self-care'... hence, are not self-loving... which just results in a spiral downwards. This is the advice I give to them (if they want advice). Your life is full of your choices. Lots of things are not in your control, but you can choose how you perceive them. You may choose to dislike the fact your kids activities or work deadlines are taking you away from the gym or your time cooking a gorgeous supper from 'Oh She Glows'... or you can choose to like the fact that you value giving your kids these opportunities or you value putting your full energy into your work that you love or you value giving others your attention.
This IS self-care.
When you are behaving aligned with your values, you are caring for yourself. I'm not saying eat crap and never exercise. When I ask a room full of people at my workshops what they value, pretty much everyone says family and health. So, physical care (and mental and emotional care) is part of self-care because it pretty much always is a personal value. But when you stop expending so much energy on beating yourself up for not going to an exercise class or not having enough time to cook a good supper or having to take care of your family so you cannot attend a weekend retreat... you then have more energy to be physically healthy and you will enjoy (or at least find contentment) in all the activities and deadlines that you believe are taking you away from your wellness... because they are actually part of your whole wellness. How you treat your mind and how you manage your emotions are part of your self-care.
So the key to self-care is being aligned with your values and knowing it. Knowing it and finding joy in it. Understanding your attitudes and managing them. When life gets busy, taking on an extra fitness class may not be the answer, but changing your mindset can change everything (and just may allow you to take on that extra fitness class:).
If you DO have time to attend a retreat and tend to yourself a little this Nov. 20-22, check out Tina's Unleash Your Creative Spirit Retreat in Ochre Pit Cove, NL (1hr, 45 mins from St. John's).
If you'd like to realign yourself with your values, check out the next workshop on Re-Creating Your Vision on January 14th, 2016, in St. John's, NL.