“Love yourself first, and everything else falls in line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” Lucille Ball
For some reason self-care seems like a luxury for most people, something that you’ll get round to IF you get the time. Really self-care is a physical expression of self-love, and self-love ain’t no luxury! If you make it something you’ll do when you have the time it’s likely you’ll never get the time. When you’re busy putting everyone else first guess who ends up last? You!
As a Mother of a toddler I get it. For the first couple of years of his life I put my self-care on a backburner. Something had to give my time had suddenly become very limited and I decided it would be me. Looking back I definitely paid for it, I was more anxious, stressed and tired than I needed to be. Everything was harder and I was relying on caffeine and sugar to get me through the day which affected the quality of my sleep not to mention my weight. I wasn’t thinking straight and wasn’t getting anywhere; it’s only now that my self-care is firmly back in its top priority spot that I now see that.
My favourite acts of self-care are sleeping, being in silence, not consuming certain foods and drinks that affect my energy and mood like caffeine and high GI foods, Zumba, Pilates, Yoga, not overloading my time, doing fun things with my Son and walking in the woods or generally being in nature. I could easily go on but these are some of the ones I can’t do without.
I know you intellectually know you would have more to give if you gave to yourself first. But intellectually knowing and doing are two different things. Life without adequate self-care is so hard. Simple problems with simple solutions become massive obstacles filled with drama. The bigger picture perspective gets lost in the mind-chatter that without self-care runs freely, wreaking havoc along the way.
Self-care is personal since we are all fed by different things but the following boxes must be ticked for it to be considered self-care:
- You enjoy it – you feel great while you’re doing it
- You feel at peace – everything slows down and the tension falls away
- It’s fun – what’s fun for others may not be fun for you and vice versa
- It feeds you – you feel more like yourself when doing it and it just feels right
- It connects you to your core – you feel grounded and centred not swept away by your emotions or distracting thoughts
So if self-care ticks all of those yummy boxes, why are we not doing it? The 2 biggest objections to prioritising self-care I’ve heard from clients are that it feels selfish, or they don’t have enough time.
Why it’s not selfish
Self-care basically means looking after yourself, keeping yourself fed and nourished. Without it you are functioning seriously below your potential. Not priortising self-care is like not putting enough petrol, oil and water in your car but expecting it to take you on a journey across the country! It’s not self-indulgent, it necessary. You need it to not be at the mercy of your fears and self-talk so you can stand in, and come from, your power. It feeds your soul and once your soul is fed you are in a better mood which makes you a better functioning human being. Once you’re a better human being, you’re a brighter light in everyone’s life. In fact, it’s highly selfish to not make your self-care a priority because when you do that you get to not show up at your best for others that need you.
Why you DO have the time
Basically you DO have the time because not doing your self-care makes you less productive, more prone to self-sabotage and everything takes longer. I remember when I locked myself out of my car, a week before Christmas a couple of years ago, resulting in unexpected expenses of over £700/$1400 in the most expensive month of the year! As I stood waiting in the snow for the Locksmith for 3 hours (I had to stay with my car because the engine was on!) I got plenty of time to retrace the steps that had got me there. I had been rushing around the whole year in an anxious state trying to do it all, be supermum, superwife – superwoman! My inner mantra was “I haven’t got time”, regular self-care didnt get a look-in and so I was disconnected from myself and totally swept away by the demands of my ego. Reconnecting to myself involved prioritising self-care and acknowldeging that as much as self-care took some time, it actually made me use my time effectively and productively. After years too-ing and fro-ing, the lesson was finally learnt and I am now very productive with my time despite having many more demands on it.
How to prioritise your self-care
Typical readers of my blog are the kind of people that put the needs of others before themselves, so I’m guessing you’re like this too. You are the type of people that struggle the most with your prioritising your self-care so here are some tips to help:
1. Examine your beliefs about self-care. If your self-care isn’t a habit for you something’s stopping you from letting yourself do it and we need to find out what is it. What do you really think about self-care? What does prioritising self-care mean to you? I don’t want to hear your self-righteous answers here, I want to hear the real stuff you feel that doesn’t make any sense. Who is it you don’t want to be? And by default who are you being?
2. Start to question that voice in your head that says you don’t have the time instead of simply believing it. Take a step back, look at it objectively, and honestly answer these questions. What is that voice promising you? What is it actually delivering? It’s always a massive a-ha moment when you realise it’s not actually delivering on its promise, and worse still, it pretty much guarantees you never get what it is promising.
3. Write a list of the things that keep you calm and make you happy. Start with the absolute basics like a good night’s sleep, a shower etc. Then move on to the things you wish you had the time to do and then finally things you’ve never done before but for some reason feel called to do. When you start doing the things you’ve never done, give yourself a gold star – this is extreme progress!
4. Expand on your list. For each item write how it makes you feel and what it gives you. Sometimes you may need to feel what the absence of the item does for you to realise what it gives you. Eg, a good night’s sleep may make you feel rested, energised and stable. If a lack of sleep makes you ratty, irritable, short-tempered and leads to an over-consumption of sugar that leaves you feeling anxious and restless, then a good night’s sleep must give you peace of mind, help you feel grounded and is great for your mood, attitude and health. Really feel into the benefits of each item, somatically this feeling is a big clue to your True Nature.
5. Commit to 3 self-care activities you absolutely must fit into your week. Make sure you are in a calm state of mind when you are choosing and diarise them to make sure they are done. The 3 activites don’t have to be anything that look that special on paper; I would focus on your basic self-care needs. To use the sleep example that could involve making sure you are in bed by a certain time each night without fail.
6. Notice all of the objections that arise during this transition towards making self-care a priority. You are making a drastic change in your energy here so resistance is part and parcel of that I’m afraid. Pay attention to all of the objections that arise both as dialogue in your head and circumstances outside of you. And when they come up continue to make conscious choices in favour of prioritising your self-care.
7. Keep going. When you fall, get up dust yourself off and use what you learned to keep going. It will get easier as you go along
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