THE PHRASE EVERYONE DREADS: SELF-CARE
A GUEST POST BY CHANTELLE DAVIS GRAY
Self-care has become a catchphrase that most people hate. They roll their eyes, they skim over it, they shrug. They say things like "I know I should..." or "I don't have time for..." Over the last few years, it seems to have become synonymous with what we used to call pampering. And that’s messing us up.
When I talk to clients about what they’re doing for self-care, they list things like long bubble baths while reading and drinking wine; mani-pedi’s; massages; yoga retreats; facials.
They’re usually shocked when I tell them that’s not what I mean.
When we boil it down to the literal meaning, self-care simply means to take care of yourself.
Women, especially, spend most of our time (for mothers I'd venture to say over 90% of their time), caring for others. And others' needs. Schlepping them, teaching them, listening to them, cooking for them, worrying about them, cleaning them, etc. A huge chunk of time is spent getting shit done so that the people in our lives feel as good as possible as often as possible. And what does that leave for ourselves? Very little at the end of the night or the very start of the morning or the in-between moments.
As you've probably heard before (and experienced in your own life), when you don't make the time to take care of yourself, eventually your mind and body force you to do it. You get a cold or the flu, or you injure something, or you get a migraine, or you get into an accident. It reaches the threshold where you can no longer ignore yourself. So you have a bit of a wake-up call, and you make promises to yourself. To take a day off, to stop over-scheduling, to cook from scratch. And the cycle often begins again.
Try this week: redefine self-care.
Instead of thinking of "self-care" as pampering, something that you need to devote non-existent hours to, think of it as a daily necessity. Like brushing your teeth and showering. The essentials of taking care of yourself. We need a new phrase for this, maybe?
Nourish yourself with nutrient dense food, or any food at all (I'm looking at you breakfast + lunch skippers!) Go to sleep at a decent hour. Move your body deliberately in a way that's enjoyable, or at least doesn't make you cringe. Get into nature, even if it’s just hanging out with some trees for 5 minutes. Explore your creative side. Relax. Have fun and laugh. Reconnect to yourself daily – 10 deep breaths before bed does wonders!
It’s all necessary, but it doesn’t all have to happen every single day. But you can’t keep ignoring yourself and expect to feel healthy and happy.
Self-care doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
It’s okay if you can’t fit in the bubble bath this week. There are ways to nourish yourself without sacrificing everything you do for the other people in your life (since I know that's not going anywhere.) You can take care of yourself with those people you care about – multitasking at it's finest.
You're feeding your love a nutritious breakfast? Make one for you too! Your dog is whining because he’s bored? Take him for a long walk instead of playing fetch inside. Kids going to dance class? Take a few laps around the building while you wait to pick them up. Listen to books on tape or sing in the car while you’re running errands.
The key is to self-care is learning to listen to your mind and body, hearing what you need, and actually taking steps to doing it. Do you need laughter? Watch a funny movie. Rest? Find a way to get to bed earlier that night. It will be different depending on the day.
Please stop thinking of self-care as a mirage in the desert, as an indulgence. Instead think of it as the essentials for your survival – you can do it!
Chantelle is a certified health + lifestyle coach for busy women overwhelmed by health fads, who simply want to feel good in their bodies + love their lives. Through her insightful emails and compassionate one-on-one coaching, she’s here to shake up your approach to health (say goodbye to calorie counting and overwhelm!) – while making it feel like you're just chatting with a friend. She's focused on your whole life, not just what's on your plate.