Bubble Bath and chilled Wine Anyone? – If This Is Self-Care, Count Me In
But seriously, when you hear the term Self-Care, what does it mean to you? Self-Care has become a bit of a buzzword in more recent years, particularly in personal development circles. However, so many people are unclear on what it means, and sadly this is often by the people who need it the most…women.
That’s not to say that it isn’t as important for men too. It’s a human need.
But sadly, it’s a concept that could be considered ‘weak’ in male circles. and as a result, it’s not being widely talked about. That’s a conversation for another time…but you can certainly help inform the man in your life about it.
Whether he feels it’s something he would want to do, you may be able to encourage him with some strategically-placed ‘care’ gifts dotted around the house…manly stuff of course!
Not always but usually, women are the primary caregivers.
As mothers, wives, daughters, and also as working women, we can feel pulled from pillar to post trying to keep up with life. Looking after ourselves beyond making sure we eat, maybe sleep (a little), and taking care of everyone else means any other form of time spent on ourselves usually takes a back seat.
Let’s Be Clear About What Self-Care Isn’t.
Self-care doesn’t involve coping mechanisms such as using drugs, drinking, gambling, or retail therapy. These things are the opposite of self-care. They may help you feel good in the short-term, but they are self-destructive and will have the exact opposite effect long-term, probably leading to a host of undesirable issues and behavior.
It’s also not about trying to better yourself so you can keep up with celebrities or influencers. That’s more about vanity and adulation…super unhealthy for your self-esteem long-term…not mention your wallet!
So, What Exactly Does It Mean?
While the concept obviously refers to taking care of yourself, it actually goes much deeper than just the occasional mani-pedi…or sneaking the pleasure of double choc-chip ice cream when no-one’s looking.
It’s about making time in your daily schedule for YOU.
It about doing things that on a regular basis that enhance our wellbeing and reduce stress.
Even if you’re super busy, you can find the time to do something that makes you feel good, even if it’s just a small thing. It may be as simple as spending 30 minutes painting your nails, chatting with a friend on the phone, or sitting quietly with a coffee and magazine.
But you have to decide to make the time…to have an appointment with yourself!
Self-care covers may aspects of setting aside time for yourself. It involves nurturing your body, mind AND spirit. It focuses on building yourself up so that your internal resources don’t become depleted. Among other things, it’s recognizing when you need a time-out. When you feel your own mental and physical care is important and taking action to address this.
The Benefits Go Far Beyond Just An Occasional Indulgence.
There are so many benefits to practicing self-care. Some of them are obvious. Like the feeling of sinking into a hot bubble bath with scented candles around the room. Or indulging in a decadent piece of cake at a pretty café, quietly people-watching while sipping your latte. (Mmmm, count me in)
Moments like these are fabulous and super beneficial because they give you a feeling of rejuvenation, helping to replenish your inner reserves…but they can be fleeting for most women.
Why is this often the case?
Sadly, it seems that our society has encouraged us (inadvertently) to feel that any type of indulgence is somehow selfish…that there are more productive ways to spend our time. And, the busier we are, the more selfish it feels to take time-out for personal care, beyond the odd visit to the hairdresser.
But, giving all your energy to those around you without scheduling some ‘Me Time’ will leave you feeling depleted and empty – and that’s no way to live. And in the long run, it doesn’t benefit those close to you either.
This Is Why Making Time for Yourself Is So Important?
Essentially, self-care is being as good to yourself as you would be to someone you care about. It requires you to have compassion for you – to be prepared to show some vulnerability by letting those around you know that you may need some help, and not feeling inadequate when doing so.
It’s about taking care of your body – the outside, and the inside. It’s about finding simple pleasures and activities that enrich your life, help you destress, and cope with life’s challenges.
This is super important because it shows others that you value yourself.
Your friends and family will become aware that you need your own space. When you take time to meet your own needs, you’ll be much better equipped, both mentally and physically to take care of others. That means everyone benefits…win-win right?
Self-Care Is Also Great For Stress Relief
Taking the time to implement a true self-care routine will provide you with insights into what you need to be the best version of You. You’ll learn a lot about yourself. You’ll find you’re better able to cope with stress and to prioritize what’s important for your wellbeing. This leads naturally to a more positive outlook on the life and the world (and heaven knows, we need that these days in the middle of Covid-19)
But, not all stress is created equal.
We all need a certain amount of stress. It actually helps to keep us alive, triggering reactions to potentially harmful situations. It helps us get things done in a hurry when time is of the essence. Even excitement is a form of stress.
But, the other type needs to be avoided as much as possible. The stress brought on by feeling completely overwhelmed in life. Either by work-type commitments, family dramas, or being around unhelpful, negative people. Any high level of stress for a prolonged period of time can be toxic to our bodies leading to disease. Not to mention the havoc it plays with our state of mind.
I know it’s not possible to completely avoid stressful situations…Utopia doesn’t exist
But this is where a little self-care can make a world of difference. Remember, above all else, your health is paramount. Without that, everything else just falls apart!
Have You Hit The Midlife Blues?
Although practicing self-care is important at any stage of life, when we’re younger, have kids, school runs, soccer practice, ballet lessons, etc we can be so absorbed in it all that we operate on adrenalin. Not an ideal time to ignore taking some time for ourselves, but very understandable why for most women, it takes a back seat.
However, once we reach our midlife years, there are other reasons why we need to start a self-care routine.
Because now we may find ourselves experiencing ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’. This is a very real concern as it can leave many women at a loss with how to fill their days.
Yes, we still may have a husband and he may still be working…but now it’s just the two of you. The previous bustle of running a busy household, organizing things for the kids, rushing home from work to cook a family meal and, preparing everyone for the next day…is no longer needed.
It’s not uncommon for you to experience an emotional and physical vacuum.
For many women, this can lead to a lack of purpose, direction, and self-worth. It’s not uncommon to go through a period of losing interest in ourselves, not bothering to make the effort to feel special. It’s a form of midlife crisis and can result in depression.
Also, at this stage of our life, we may be in a situation where we have elderly parents who need our care. This can lead to a feeling of helplessness as we watch them age, and cope with becoming more aware of our own mortality.
None of this is uncommon…millions of women experience these feelings.
It’s funny how most midlife crises are attributed to men. Maybe because women rarely go off and buy a sports car, and drive around with a MUCH too young Chicky-Babe in the passenger seat. Hey!…maybe we should start a new trend. Convertible and Toy-Boy anyone?
So, before we go to such dramatic lengths, there are great ways to deal with it all…and a good self-care routine is a fabulous start.
Time to Take That Midlife Bull By The Horns!
Let’s get this Rodeo Show on the road!
So, the kids have gone, you’re older, and even though you may still have responsibilities, you probably have more time on your hands than you used to. So let’s make the most of it!
What about all those things you would like to have done when you were younger.
Now you have the opportunity to indulge your personal interests. Read all those books you wanted to but never got the chance. Learn to paint. Start an online business. Take French cooking classes. Or just simply make a time every day to do something that leaves you feeling amazing.
Apart from the obvious pleasure, you’ll experience from finally being able to indulge in your passions, an amazing upside is the feeling of self-worth and improved self-esteem, lower stress levels, and better health. Spending time and effort on yourself will rejuvenate and energize you.
Now You Know Have A Better Idea Of What Self-Care Is, And Why It’s So Important, Here Are Just Some Of The Many Great Ideas On How To Get Started.
- Start by creating a Self-Care routine. Map out what you would like to do for regularly
- Make a date with yourself each day/week/month (depending on what you’re planning)
- Pamper yourself. Book a Manicure/Pedicure and just relax and enjoy it.
- Buy yourself a gift. Doesn’t have to be expensive, just something to bring you joy.
- Indulge in some beautiful chocolates and keep them to yourself. You don’t have to share.
- Buy a piece of sexy underwear. Even if no-one else sees it, you know you’re wearing it.
- Be brave and go get that new hairstyle you’ve always fancied.
- Why not surprise your partner and come home with different hair color.
- Have a Netflix binge session of your absolute favorite sitcom, complete with popcorn.
- Buy some flowers each week. You’ll feel calm and relaxed each time you see them.
- Start Journaling, it can be extremely therapeutic and bring out your creativity.
- AND…don’t forget that bubble bath we mentioned, preferably with a glass of red wine
So, No More Excuses – Start Your Self-Care Routine Today