One of the themes I use regularly in the yoga classes I teach is: Self Care is a divine responsibility. It's a quote by Danielle Laporte, and I love that she uses both of the words "divine" and "responsibility." I've mentioned it before in another self care post and blogged about self care in general in Bringing Back Your Balance.
I think Danielle Laporte is right. I firmly believe in self care as a divine responsibility; it's both necessary and beneficial to living at our best...
I preach it all the time to my classes. I tell my friends when they are not giving themselves the care they need. I tell my friends to stop talking negatively about themselves. I remind my husband when he's run down to do something to rest or recharge. I tell the ladies I personal train to cut themselves some slack when they have busy seasons in life. I highlight quotes about self care and file them away for future inspiration.
And yet... I'm terrible at it.
I'm coming out of a season of life where I feel exhausted, run down, and flat. I haven't had time to do many of the things I enjoy doing and I've been running from one thing to the next. I haven't been taking care of myself at all. In the name of checking off my to do list-- which is just like everyone else's: neverending-- I let the all important task of taking care of me slide. My cup is empty.
I realize that I'm the ultimate self care hypocrite. For a self care advocate, I constantly fall short of practicing what I preach.
Another aspect of this is the habit of being way too hard on myself. Funny enough, I'm even being hard on myself right now for not practicing self care better. (At least that makes me laugh.) We've all heard the saying about being our own worst critic, right? Are you too hard on yourself as well? I don't know about you, but I would never, ever, ever direct some of the things I say to myself to a friend. I try to speak to my friends lovingly. I tell them I love them all the time. Why then, do I come down so hard on me?
Many times I blog about what is important to me at that particular time. This post is no exception. By realizing that I'm actually not all that great at self-care, I remember that my struggle with it is not unique. Maybe you can relate.
We are all in the middle of our own balancing act. You may be balancing a career, motherhood, caring for an aging loved one, church activities, volunteer work, trying to eat healthy, exercise, have a social life, drink enough water every day, or all of the above. In the midst of this, how on earth do we find time to take care of ourselves? It's the easiest thing to bump down the priority list, isn't it?
But I'm learning that's exactly when we need to dig in and not budge on giving ourselves the TLC we need. I learn this more and more as I get older, but the paradox is that it gets harder and harder to do as I get older.
Self care really is necessary if you want to live life at your best. If you want "out" of the flat, lackluster feeling you have when you're run down, self care is a great improvement. It can make a huge difference between living life as the daily grind versus living life with more joy. You have to put yourself first sometimes.
For those of you who are scoffing, I know what you're thinking. I do, because I've heard many people say it, mostly women who have various important responsibilities. I'm guilty of thinking the same type of thing. You're thinking: How could I possibly put myself first when I have all of those responsibilities to keep up with.... kids to take care of, parents to take care of.... a demanding career, etc. So many of us feel the need to be Superwoman, and to just tough it out. But you're the one who needs it the most. You can't take care of your loved ones or anything you hold dear to you if you're not operating at your best. It's not selfish to put yourself first. Self care is not selfish at all; It's practical. If you don't put yourself first, you're not able to give your loved ones (or career, etc.) the best you can give them. Being Superwoman is simply not sustainable. You'll burn out.
I'm not saying that self care has to be a pedicure or a relaxing one-hour bath every night with candles and a book. That's not only super cliché, but probably not practical. Plus, self care looks different to everyone. What I am saying, though, is that you (ahem... me) have to learn to prioritize ourselves at least sometimes, and we also need to be nice to ourselves.
What does it mean, then, if self care is not long baths, chocolate and pedicures? I think it means a lot of things. It means giving yourself time to rest and recharge. It means doing the things you need to do to stay healthy. It means doing things you love or seeing the people you love. It means improving yourself. It means letting go of things or people that do not honor your highest self. It means cutting unnecessary stress in your life. It means learning to care what YOU think about you, and not caring what other people think of you. It means knowing what you are all about... your values, principles, and desires, and honoring them. It means not giving up on your dreams just because they're hard. It means setting healthy boundaries. It means giving yourself space to heal. It means forgiving others and yourself. It means rediscovering yourself over and over as you evolve. It means celebrating progress, no matter how small. It means giving yourself space to be you. It means letting yourself be you. If you don't know who you are, then maybe it means figuring that out, which may just be your biggest adventure yet. It means giving yourself the same love and respect that you give your best friends. It means loving yourself, flaws and all. It means knowing deep down that you are worthy of love.
So... That was deep.
On a more lighthearted note, there are many small and practical things you can do for yourself which translate into the deeper, more meaningful things just stated. Maybe you can think of something to do daily, like prayer time or meditation time. That's a ritual that benefits you daily AND translates into the deep stuff. Or maybe for you, self care looks like taking a hike over the weekend to get out in nature and recharge. Maybe it's a weekly event like a favorite yoga class, planning a new adventure on your calendar, or trying out a new hobby. Perhaps it's traveling somewhere new. What about just putting your phone in another room for an hour? Learn some breathing techniques to use the next time you're stressed out. Maybe self care is learning to say no to some things to set healthier boundaries. Listening to uplifting music, watching things that inspire you, or reading a book that challenges you might be the ticket. Maybe less screen time overall (phone, computer, tv), going to bed early, or catching up with a friend would fill your cup. Taking better care of your body, mind and spirit... that is what self care is all about.
Taking better care of your body, mind and spirit... that is what self care is all about.
Encourage your friends to take care of themselves, too. Sometimes we don't see it when we let ourselves slip, and having a friend remind you to slow down, practice self care, and be nice to yourself can be a loving wake up call. Spread the love and encouragement whenever you can. We're all doing our best to stay balanced, so let's help each other out and lift each other up.
Remember, Superwoman isn't real. But you are. Take care of YOU.
Love & Light.
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Hi, I'm Blake. I love adventure, cooking, costume parties, wine, yoga, and reading...in that order. Follow my blog for yoga stuff, fitness tips, & healthy recipes...
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