Maybe it’s because I’ve been celebrating my birthday month, or maybe because I’ve been launching my own business and starting a new chapter in my life, or maybe because Labor Day is right around the corner, but I’ve been really thinking about how often we do the things that we truly enjoy, how we take care of ourselves, and work. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about self-care. What does it mean? Why is it important?
While wrestling with the idea that taking care of ourselves is selfish, we, as Americans, often work too hard and then don’t relax until we retire. Most think to get ahead we have to work ourselves until we are exhausted, depressed, overly stressed, and sick, literally killing ourselves in the process. If we aren’t working ourselves to the bone and always busy and stressed then surely we can’t be doing anything meaningful or important (and we’re probably slackers). I don’t believe any of that’s true and I definitely wouldn’t recommend any of it. Let me be clear when I say these things, I don’t believe in being any type of bum. I believe in working hard (but working smarter vs. harder), striving to be better, and dominating your life in whatever form and fashion you choose, however, I don’t believe in being constantly stressed out all the time, drained, unhappy, and not taking care of yourself.
Often times we wait until we’re sick and run-down to start taking care of ourselves. Or we wait for a special occasion to take care of ourselves, to do something we truly enjoy, to treat ourselves to something that makes us feel good inside and out. Or wait until we feel as though we earned it and now deserve it. We wait for a specific holiday (because only when it’s Mother’s Day do you really deserve to relax and have some time to yourself) or until we’ve accomplished enough (when I make X more dollars then I’ll buy that shirt that makes me feel like a rock star but until then I’ll sit around in my sweatpants feeling like a loser). But we don’t need to live like this. You will be more productive, happier, and healthier if you always set time aside to take care of yourself.
Self-care is not about self-indulgence, it is about self-preservation. Audre Lorde
You can’t pour from an empty cup. You have to take care of yourself first.
Self-care is a priority and necessity, not a luxury.
[Find more quotes here.]
Self-care can be anything that makes you feel better emotionally, mentally, and/or physically. It doesn’t have to be something costly although it can be indulgent and a treat. Some ideas include:
- Listening to music that gets you pumped (Jock jams? Jesus jams? No judgment here.)
- Applauding yourself for an accomplishment (big or small)
- Getting a massage
- Using all your PTO
- Wearing that special occasion outfit because it’s Tuesday
- Practicing yoga
- Doing anything that makes you laugh uncontrollably
- Taking a bath
- Taking a nap
- Unplugging from electronics
- Creating a vision board
- Saying no to something that adds additional stress to your day
- Going outside (Dance in the rain, soak up the sun, climb a tree, hike, play in a park, whatever your style is.)
[Here are some more ideas.]
Make time to take care of yourself. At first you may feel uncomfortable doing what may be a foreign task but I promise you that you will be better off for it. Your mind, body, and soul will thank you.
[This Huffington Post article highlights some golden rules of self-care.]
Just to wrap up: You deserve to take care of yourself. You need to take care of yourself. You don’t need to earn it. It’s not selfish. It’s vital.
What’s one thing you will do today to take care of yourself? What about this week, this month, this year? What will you do? What will your life look like? How much better can you serve others? How much more productive can you be? How much more can you love your life and yourself and this one experience we’re given?
So please, stop your laboring this weekend and practice some self-care.