Self Care isn’t Selfish

“Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.” ~ Deborah Day

 

A friend of mine has finally taken time out from her crazy over-giving-to-everyone-else-but-herself life to focus on her health. She’s run herself ragged, and her poor body is suffering from years of neglect, so she’s taking a month off to go to a health retreat and get some new strategies in place to turn her situation around.

Another friend has recently quit a long-term social group where she has been the President for over fifteen years so that she can spend weekends working on her art.

A mutual acquaintance shocked me when she said of these two women, “It’s a bit self-indulgent, don’t you think?”

Excuse me?

Since when has it been okay to forgo your own health, emotional well-being and dreams, forever putting your needs on the back burner while you collapse in a heap  from being there for everyone else?

Self care isn’t a natural act for most people anymore. Too many of my friends and clients have confided to me that they feel guilty about pursuing their own interests or taking time for themselves when they have jobs, partners, families, elderly parents and social obligations.

But if we keep drawing on our own energy to support others without ever filling ourselves back up, eventually we end up empty.  We lose ourselves.  We look in the mirror and don’t know who we are any more.  We become little more than machines.

 

When we don’t make time for ourselves the end result will never be pretty.  We burn out, we break down, we stop maintaining the habits and relationships that contributed to our wellbeing, and we often end up walking away from things that were actually good for us or that we were once passionate about.  I see this so often that I call it ‘burned out practitioner syndrome’ – people who worked at what they loved so unsustainably that they came to resent their work/art/relationships and became totally disconnected from their passion and purpose.

Self care isn’t selfish.  Self care is the single most important gift you can give to yourself and the relationships around you. If you don’t know where to start, here are some simple suggestions:

10 ways to be kind to yourself

Remembering to take care of you

Are you setting yourself up for failure this week?

 

Remembering to take care of YOU!

“Right in the difficult we must have our joys, our happiness, our dreams: there against the depth of this background, they stand out, there for the first time we see how beautiful they are.”
~ Rainer Maria Rilke

 

Recently I received a message from a lovely lady, asking about balance:

I thought of you as I was reflecting on my past week & trying to set goals for the months ahead and wondered how you ‘balance’ yourself, between giving yourself all the appropriate time you need & still helping others. I struggle with giving me some time to myself. Any tips or ideas would be gratefully appreciated.

It’s always a tricky thing – this balancing act, and truth be told, there is no magic formula to create a perfect life where you can neatly tick all of the boxes.  Sometimes you need to go all out for other people.  Most of us are good at that bit.  Where we suck is in going all out for ourselves.

But do you know what? It’s YOUR life – this ain’t no dress rehearsal, and your goals and dreams deserve as much air play as all of those people you are supporting to achieve theirs!

Keith Urban performing on stage - he owul dnever have achieved his dreams without practice, and being brave enough to take a chance on himself. Photo: Daniela Rodriguez

Keith Urban performing on stage – he would never have achieved his dreams without practice, and being brave enough to take a chance on himself. Photo: Daniela Rodriguez

Find some time each day that’s just for you.  Even ten minutes is a help. Not to be productive, but to replenish! It could be a morning run, a meditation, a first cup of coffee with the crossword from the back of the paper, a picnic lunch and time with a book in the park in your lunch hour, a long hot soak at day’s end. It’s worth it to get up that little earlier to find a quiet moment.  Those quiet moments are what fill us up and help us get through the day.

Goals – identify them.  Go ahead and allow yourself some dreaming time. If you need help these try these posts:

Writing as a Manifestation Tool

Writing Yourself into a Brighter Future

Gifts to give yourself this Christmas (Valid all year round!)

When you’ve written your goals and dreams, pick three. Now pick one of the three and break it into do-able chunks.  Schedule a little time each day, or a bigger chunk of time one or two days a week, or one insane period of a few days and work on your goal chunk by chunk until it is done.  Give up on perfection and embrace action!!!

Carve out some time in your Schedule. Only you know how much effort you’ll need to get something done. If all you want is a few moments to yourself then find a way to squeeze some time in by starting later or finishing your day a little earlier. Maybe you’ll need to give yourself Monday nights, or Sunday afternoons.  Maybe you’l need to get bold and block out whole swathes of time in your diary.  It all depends on how big your dream is and how much you want to make your dream a reality.

Sleep! People who are juggling caring for others, paying the bills and a myriad other responsibilities usually cut corners trying to squeeze more into their day. It’s a false economy that leads to burn out.  Give yourself the gift of sleep.  Nothing will get you back on your feet and making good decisions faster than a solid night’s sleep. Say yes to some pillow time, and put everything else on hold. If possible take a whole weekend and devote it to rest. Can’t rest at home?  Check into a hotel or take your tent and vanish for a few days of sleep and soul restoration. You and your sanity are worth it!

Set clear boundaries.  When your dance card is already full, saying yes to more offers of dancing is insane. Know your limits.  Let go of things, or take a night off and let someone else be responsible. If you’re drowning, put your hand up and ask for help. When you need to say no, say no.

Eat well.  When you’re struggling to find space for yourself in a busy life, believe me that is the WORST TIME to skip meals, live on crappy take-aways or cupboard food (yeah, you know what I mean: instant noodles, corn chips, sweet biscuits etc) When we are under stress we need to fuel ourselves up with plenty of healthy, nutritious food and lots of good clean water.

Image from www.wilstop.info

Image from www.wilstop.info

Take proper time out to nurture and maintain yourself.  Get your hair done, visit the dentist, see a movie, go to the library and stock up on your favourite movies and books, enjoy a massage or something else relaxing and meaningful for you.

Get your support crew together. We can’t do this journey alone.  My support crew includes my husband, the Sisters of the Pen – my writing cadre who are also the dearest of friends and secret keepers, my online community, a few close friends (and yes some of these people live on the other side of the world and we skype, text and call each other!), my acupuncturist, herbalist, dentist, doctors, my accountant, my Guides, and a host of books, motivational videos, courses and websites. I will also add in a few good coffee shops, cafes and farmers’ markets for good measure.

Carrots – you need some so work them out and then dangle them enticingly in front of you.  We call them rewards for a reason.  What is hard work without some well-earned pleasure at the end of the road?  Have a range of small treats and bigger ticket items.  Never put yourself into financial hardship to reward yourself – sometimes my best reward is a coffee at a favourite cafe, a walk on the beach, or a new book and a whole Sunday to myself.

hammock-on-the-beach

I’ve done burn out. And nursed that deep resentment from putting everyone else first and me last.  Trust me, it isn’t worth it. It isn’t useful. All it does is break your spirit and your body and leave you floundering and exhausted.

It’s your responsibility to take care of yourself and to honour your dreams.  If you don’t, who will?  Your life is yours to live, so be an active participant and make the days count.

Much love to you, Nicole ♥ xx

beach - wategos

Useful extra reading:

The Broken Robot Repair Shop

Simple Pleasures

Doing Nothing is Productive!

Simplicity is a choice