What is Self Care?
Self care is care provided “for you, by you.” It’s about identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them. It is taking the time to do some of the activities that nurture you. Self care is about treating yourself as kindly as you treat others. It’s about self-compassion!
Which is why self-care is also linked to our own sense of worthiness. If we do not believe we are worthy of the acts of self-care or of taking that time to look after ourselves, then practicing self-care is like an uphill battle.
I definitely struggle with feelings of being unworthy. And since, in recent years, I let go of most of my unworthy feelings around my weight it allows me to see how much my level of productivity is also linked to my level of worthiness.
I hustle all the time for my worthiness by trying to show myself and the world just how productive I can be. The big one is how much I hustle to prove it to myself.
This shows up in my life by driving me to keep working into the evenings, forgoing rest, meals, movement, meditation, all in the name of productivity. I truly know now that shaming myself into practicing more self-care is also not going to work. “I should go for a walk.” “I should take a break.” “I should have meditated today.” All of these thoughts will then just get piled on to the thoughts of: “I should have finished that proposal”; “I should have gotten that facebook post out”; and “I should be creating more content for my business”. The result will be a big crash. I won’t feel good about myself. So I won’t feel like connecting with others and I will feel isolated and ultimately I will feel depressed. It’s a vicious circle.
This is why I love Brene Brown SO much. If you haven’t heard of her, google her TedTalk. Brene says, ‘There are no prerequisites for worthiness. Worthiness is an as-is, here and now proposition.’
So all of this to say I think some of THE BEST self-care and the most accessible (but maybe not the easiest) to practice is noticing when we are hustling for our worthiness and asking ourselves “Is there another option in this situation?” “If I am trying to prove myself to others or myself, what am I hoping to gain?” “Do I maybe already have those things because I am the only one with the power to give that to myself?”
And then to switch our thinking to:
“I am the only one who decided that I am worthy. I am the only one who decides that I am worthy of love. I am the only one who decides that I am enough. And that is what I decide, I am enough. I am worthy. I am worthy of love.”
I say this is accessible because you don’t need any new equipment and you don’t even need to carve out more hours in your day to practice this so it is always available to you. However, changing our thoughts and beliefs can be WAY more challenging than trying to stretch your calves everyday. I have definitely heard the feedback from yoga students that it is less scary to try coming into a challenging pose for two minutes than to try sitting with yourself in silent meditation for two minutes.
This practice will be an exploration from a place of self-love and worthiness of what self-care looks like for you. I believe self-care is very personal and can look very different in different situations. There are the usual acts of self-care
- Talk openly with a trusted friend.
- Sit outside and listen to the birds.
- Practice breathing exercises
- Take a warm bath/shower
But maybe there are some ways that we can practice self-care that are little outside the box and personal to you. For example, I love playing with creative expression of how I dress, my hair and my makeup and lately I have been doing what I call, “galaxy eyebrows” where I colour my eyebrows with blue and purple and pink shadows. It helps me to feel like me. It helps me to feel like my authentic self and this lowers anxiety and improves my connection with others.
Some general ideas of things that might be self-care are:
- Things that makes us feel good and like our authentic selves
- Things that comfort and ground us
- Things that make us feel calm
- Things that lower stress
- Things that help us feel connected
- Things that make us happy
- Things we are enthusiastic about
Here is the practice:
Begin by sitting comfortably. Close your eyes and settle in. Let the world outside melt away. Let go of anything that happened earlier today. Let go of anything you think you need to do later. And bring your awareness into this room. See where your body is in the room. Then see the room around you begin to fade away as you gather up your awareness and bring it fully into your body. Fully into the present moment. This time is just for you. There is nowhere else for you to be. Nothing else for you to be doing. Just being in your body. Being in this moment. That is enough.
Practice breath observation for one minute. If you notice other thoughts, label them as a thought and let them go. Then come back to the breath.
For the next minute begin to breathe in and out through your heart. Breathing in and out of the spiritual heart. The area behind the breastbone and to the right of your physical heart. Like your lungs are in your heart. Let your breath caress your heart.
In this meditative state, ask yourself the following questions to get more clear on what self-care really means for you:
- What makes me happy?
- What helps me feel calm?
- Where do I find comfort?
- Where do I find connection?
- What tools do I have to release stress?
- What helps me to feel good about myself?
- When do I feel connected to my authentic self?
- What do I feel passionate about?
Breathe here listening to your heart and getting clearer on the actions you can take to practice self-care.
I hope you enjoyed this exploration of self-care. I would love to hear about any discoveries you made in your meditation. Please share them in the comments below.