Self-care...what does that even mean? When I ask the women in my world about self-care I often get a steady stare which is followed by either the question, "What do you mean?" or the answer, "None, no self-care at all." The idea of self-care makes us squirmy, because we often connect it with selfishness or frivolousness. We make up judgments like, "How in the world do you expect me to stop what I'm doing...can't you see that I have ALL of THIS to take care of?"
Yes, I see ALL that you are holding. You are running the ship, tending to the emotions of your household, making ends meet, and being there for everyone. I get it. However, when self-care is low our energy suffers, our attitude becomes negative, and we can't show up to our projects or relationships with clarity. Taking a moment to nurture yourself sets you up to be in the best alignment for yourself, your relationships, and your work.
When I ask you to picture a self-care activity, what comes up for you? Many of you might picture a passive activity like a warm bubble bath, a massage, or savoring a treat of some kind. Taking time to receive is absolutely an act of self-care.
However, self-care is also active. As you move through your life, my guess is that your brain rotates through a list of ideas, to-dos, and tasks that all seem pressing. Each of these things seem important, but we only have so many hours in a day and we can't get to them all.
In The ONE Thing by Gary Keller, he writes, "When each day begins, we each have a choice. We can ask, 'What shall I do?' or 'What should I do?' Without direction, without purpose, whatever you 'shall do' will always get you somewhere. But when you're going somewhere on purpose, there will always be something you 'should do' that will get you where you must go. When your life is on purpose, living by priority takes precedence."
What takes priority in your life? When we get really clear about this question, just a small number of things seem vital. Our health, our financial stability, our relationships (to name a few). The active part of self-care brings our priorities front and center so that we can act on them in order to better care for ourselves. This might mean creating a monthly financial budget, meal prepping on weekends, scheduling your annual physical, or making an appointment for yourself.
These self-care activities aren't necessarily fun and sometimes they're hard. The acts themselves are literally a way of looking after ourselves so that we're safe, healthy, and nurtured. Only you know where you want to go and what your priorities are. You get to choose your next step with the deepest care of yourself in mind. You run the show. You're incredibly important.
©2023 Jennifer Padilla-Burger, LMFT. All rights reserved.