I recently gave myself a little Instagram challenge (I really don’t know what drives me sometimes - some days I’m like “Oh I know! Let’s do 100 days of self-care / agree to teach in prison / do an online webinar etc etc” And then after a few days / weeks of working on the project - I’m more like; “what was I thinking???”). Anyhow - inspired I was - and I set myself the task of really getting into ‘What is Self-Care?’ Because self-care is often thought of a bubble-bath, a massage or a date night - fantastic short term relaxation or time out.
However, sometimes self-care is a big plate of vegetables and a good hard walk.
The challenge in our life is actually understanding what you need at any particular time. After a very stressful day at work, you may very well need a bubble bath, glass of wine and a massage. Other times, your self-care is going to involve pulling on your big girl/boy pants and tackling a task which has been causing you stress, something you have been putting off - but you know - you KNOW that you will feel so much better afterwards. And the tax department / landlord / boss won’t be after you.
Exercise. Food. Cooking for yourself. Doing your taxes. Cleaning the house. Finishing that project. Changing the sheets. Weeding the garden. Donating those clothes, clearing that desk, paying that bill.
So what is Self-Care?
It’s about doing what is necessary at the time for your present self - while taking into consideration your future self. Or as the online dictionary defines it: ‘the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one's own health’ and ‘the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.’
Caring for your present and future self needs some consideration. How do you decide between the two? Are they compatible? Is looking after your current self going to put your future self at risk? If you take a nap today - is this going to ruin your imagine of being fit strong and healthy you next month? Is focusing on your future self ignoring your happiness in the present?
And who is this future self? (It’s of course whoever you decide you want him or her to be).
Sometimes you just need a short term fix - rather than the long term approach. Other times, you really need to keep the focus on the long term goal.
It’s about weighing up the pro’s and cons and, doing what feels right for you in that moment. And understanding that sometimes, taking an afternoon nap is actually directly in line with the future strong, fit and healthy you.
One question I often ask is ‘what do I need right now’. Often the answer is just sitting there (even though I desperately want to ignore it).
Anyway you look at this - there are a lot of ways to express self care. For a whole lot more examples (a full 100 of them to be precise) - take a look at my Instagram account.
Look after yourself.