“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself” – Rumi
We recently had a motivational speaker at work. He was inspiring not only because he happened to be a paraplegic, yoga instructor, and author, but also for the poignancy of the topic he chose to discuss; ‘the importance of self-care’. It had become clear to him that the more people got in touch with themselves, the bigger their compassion to the world grew.
Many of us, especially those working in helping professions, tend to push self-care to the side, and it takes us a lifetime to learn that cultivating a mind-body connection is very important; some of us may never get there. In a culture of go go go, it is crucial that we constantly remind ourselves not to let our personal care fall to the wayside because, how can we effectively care for others and the world if we can’t first care for ourselves?
Ken Wilber, the world renowned integral theorist, put it well: “the more things that you do to feel wholeness in yourself, then the more you’re going to tap into the possibility of releasing your greatness, and the more you do that, the more you’re going to have actual factors you can contribute to the world to help the world find its’ greatness – to help the world find its wholeness.”
What Exactly Is Self-Care?
Self-care is taking time for yourself so that you feel good, whether that is physically, emotionally or spiritually.
This comes in many shapes and forms, such as stress management, setting healthy boundaries, creating a work/life balance, or pursuing personal passions.
Why Is Self-Care so Hard?
You don’t have to go far to see people depleting themselves at work in order to do their job or care for their community; or tending only to their children and partners’ needs, and never taking a minute to breathe.
But you may also notice that their performance starts to slip, and they seem constantly burned out and overwhelmed.
We live in a place where an over-achiever’s status is cherished, and where the concept of essentialism quickly sinks amid the sea of options we find ourselves drowning in.
But let’s put it this way; if you were a business owner for example, would you rather have someone stressed, overworked, and physically drained working for you, or looking after your business? Or would you prefer someone that maybe isn’t as available because they take more time away for themselves, but when they are around they exude vitality and are totally present, healthy, and happy?
I feel that most people get it the other way around. They go off to save the world without thinking about bettering themselves first. Who doesn’t want to change the world and make a positive impact? But think about it; when you are healthy, happy, well rested, and energized, you are far more effective at everything you do. The most successful people I know, whether they are entrepreneurs, business people, stay at home moms, or students, are the ones that are consistent and firm about carving out time for themselves to love and care for themselves.
How Can Self-Care Impact Your Life?
Here are a few examples of how self-care can improve our quality of life.
1- Getting adequate sleep can help you have an improved mood, perform better at work, and be better at decision-making.
2- Getting regular exercise, in addition to its tremendous positive physical outcomes, makes your brain function better and can also boost your mood.
4- Additionally, pursuing your passions and moving away from stagnant routines in life, can give you more energy and happiness.
Self Care is Unique to Each Individual.
There is an indefinite number of ways to look after ourselves. It’s something unique to each individual.
Maybe reserving some time to your self first thing in the morning – even if it’s just 5 min to have coffee in bed, or cuddle in bed before you get up. Not your thing? Try one of these:
In the morning:
- Doing breathing exercises
- Taking a hot bath
During the day:
- Writing a daily journal
- Scheduling a massage
- Getting a haircut and looking good
- Scheduling an overdue doctor’s appointment
- Taking a day off (by using a vacation day at work, or hiring a babysitter for the day)
- Trying a class or hobby you’ve always wanted to do
- Treating yourself with flowers and a healthy meal
- Taking a nap
In the evening:
- Taking a walk at sunset by yourself
- Lighting a candle and reading
- Having some time for self reflection at the end of the day
It will be easy to figure out what your body needs. You just need to listen. The more the better.
If you take one thought away with you from this read, let it be that self-care is not selfish, it is in fact the opposite because in the end you can give more to others when you give more to yourself. Give yourself permission. You are worthy.