Updated: Aug 20, 2020
Everyday I scroll through Facebook and LinkedIn and see articles stressing the importance of Self-Care. Heck, I am even hosting a 4 week workshop on self-care. But what does it even mean. There is the implied meaning just by looking at the name, self-care: taking care of ones’ self, right? So how do we take care of ourselves? Two extremes come to mind, the all out “treat yo self” concept, massages, expensive dinners, shopping, etc.
To the other extreme of the most basic meaning of care “keep yourself alive”, eating, bathing, taking your medicine, etc. I can assume we all keep ourselves alive, though after you eat dinner I doubt we all feel refreshed and a little less stressed. The truth is in that moment, finishing dinner, can almost feel like adding another weight on your shoulders; now there are dishes to do, I need to get the kids bathed now, what’s for dessert, who is going to put away the leftovers, did I eat too much, I should have eaten that. In fact, I would say for some of us, caring for ourselves even in the most basic forms can cause more stress.
In fact, I would say for some of us, caring for ourselves even in the most basic forms can cause more stress.
Every Sunday I go to the grocery store alone, leaving my husband and kids at home. This started years ago. At first the habit was formed with the intention to plan meals for the week and purchase everything at once to cut the stress of frequent trips to the store and to avoid the stressful debate every night of “what’s for dinner”. Because I was purchasing so much the trip was long, and I stopped inviting the kids to come because it was too much to handle the kids and shopping. At some point it became this little escape for me. Once a week I would go to the store alone and listen to a podcast or music or call a friend to catch up. It became an intentional activity that I habitually preformed to spend devoted time with myself. That, is self-care.
But at some point things changed. This sacred time I had slowly turned into a chore, a huge stress in my life. And every Sunday I would wake up and continue to go to the store seeking that feeling I used to get. I would tell myself it was my time, I would think and plan out what I was going to listen to. I was trying force the positive experience I once had with this activity.
The truth is that my life had changed, my husband was traveling for work so leaving him when he was home for the weekend was actually stressful. It created this subconscious desire to hurry to get back home so I could spend time with him. Which in made me start going to the store early before everyone woke up so I wouldn’t miss time with them, which cut out one of my days to sleep in. Which lead to me getting home from the store unloading a weeks worth of groceries by myself then immediately start cooking breakfast, and not having a minute to myself on a Sunday morning. And because it became a stressor in my life I wasn’t able to even complete the task at my best, often forgetting items making me have to do the original thing I was trying to avoid and make multiple trips to the store throughout the week for items I forgot.
I tell this story to explain why self-care is so hard and feels tone deaf sometimes. We associate self-care with behaviors when really it is not the action or behavior. It is figuring out what we need at that time. Self-care is the intentional act of reflecting on what makes you happy and doing more of that, and realizing what stresses you out and doing less of that. And as our lives changes our self-care needs to change as well.
Self-care is the intentional act of reflecting on what makes you happy and doing more of that, and realizing what stresses you out and doing less of that.
Simply scheduling a massage will not improve your self-care and in fact could actually stress you out more. To practice self-care you have to believe that you are worth your time to invest in yourself, because its not a one step process. There are four steps to practicing self-care:
Step One: Reflect
PRESS PAUSE. This is the first and hardest step.You have to take a moment to reflect on what you are missing or what is present in your life that is negatively impacting you. This could be in your emotional state, your relationships, your wellness, or even in your career.
Step Two: Determine What Matters
DIG IN. Once you've identified which areas of your self-care need improvement you have to dig into it. If your relationships are causing you distress, why? Why are you not making the changes to improve your relationships. If your wellness is depressing you, why haven't your put your health first? What is holding you back? Why is this important to you? What do you want this to look like?
Step Three: Start Small
LASER VISION. Now that you have invested the time to reflect and determine what really matters to, you probably feel like improvement would be like moving a glacier. Overwhelming. So instead of trying to change your "world", start small. Identify one thing you can focus on.
If you have to move 600 pounds of bagged dirt, your not going to try and lift it all at once. No, you start with one 20 pound bag and keep going. So pick one bag to start moving, you can come back to the rest and be 20 pounds lighter.
Step Four: Put into Action
2 MINUTES A DAY, PUTS SELF-CARE INTO PLAY. So this all sounds good and easy, right? But its not that simple. Because life is demanding and habits are hard to change. Time, resources, and energy are limited. So, how do you keep yourself accountable? Try to adopt the new habit for only two minutes a day. After a week of practicing your self-care for two minutes, you will start developing a new habit and if you could do it for 2 minutes a day you'll know you are capable of doing it for 3 minutes. Each week increase your time as you continue to build your habit.
And its important to know these steps are not a checklist. You have to repeat them because we change and our needs will too.
Self-care is really important and it's not easy to stay accountable to take care of ourselves when there are so many people in our life that we want to take care of as well. This is why we see those annoying articles (like this one) and classes and workshops that encourage you to focus on self-care.
It is why we developed a workshop to help you through the steps of self-care in real time and collaborate with others and talk about the ugly truth, IT'S HARD! We created this workshop for employers to purchase for their staff. It promotes self-care while also encouraging team building.
We also offer one-on-one sessions for personal development!
Check us out below!!