Self-care, just like self-love, is an ongoing practice. It requires that we show up every day, that we devote wholeheartedly to ourselves.
But self-care needs us to make a conscious choice; a choice to put our needs first. And this certainly doesn’t always happen automatically. While self-care is one of the best things we can do for ourselves, it can also be one of the easiest things to stop doing. When life gets busy we tend to stop looking after ourselves. We stop doing the very things that make us feel our best.
The two things most of us stop doing when we’re busier than usual, are getting enough sleep and exercising. These two simple things are actually a central part of self-care. They are how we take care of ourselves, each and every single day. When I go to bed late or don’t exercise for a few days, I notice the difference in how I feel, straight away.
In times like these it’s really easy to acknowledge that we don’t feel our best (how often do you say ‘I’m so tired’?). But we usually don’t see it for what it is – a reminder that we aren’t taking care of ourselves as best as we could. A reminder that we need to put our self-care back in the forefront of our minds and our choices.
I recently had a conversation about self-care with my boyfriend. He wasn’t feeling his best and wasn’t really sure why. He would wake up, after snoozing through his alarm several times, and start the morning in a rush to get out the door and head off to work. He would come home and study or watch tv with a beer; sitting around for a few hours before heading off to bed. While we wasn’t doing anything completely awful to himself, it was clear that he wasn’t putting his own needs first. He didn’t have any self-care practices in his life. So it’s no wonder he wasn’t feeling that crash hot.
Sometimes we get swept up in all of the things we think we have to do, and we simply forget that we need to look after ourselves. I know it’s something that I struggle with, and I’m sure that you can relate. If you’ve been a busy-little-bee of late, this is a reminder for you. Your needs are more important than your to-do list. Self-care trumps crossing one more item off your list.
I think sometimes we have misconstrued ideas about what self-care means. We think that in order to practice self-care we need to devote hours and hours of our time. We think that because we don’t have enough time we don’t have time to look after ourselves.
If you do have hours each day that you can and do devote to yourself, that’s fantastic and there’s no need to change. But most of us don’t have hours. And that is ok.
It is great to take 10 or 20 minutes each day and devote this to your self-care. But the magic of self-care lies in the little, in between moments. It lies in the choices we make – whether we go out for a walk or watch another episode of The Walking Dead, whether we go to bed or continue scrolling through Instagram for another 30 minutes, whether we make sure we get enough sleep or just rely on coffee to get us through the day.
We tend to overthink self-care, but really, self-care can be quite simple. Self-care isn’t about adding lots of things to your life and creating a long to-do list. It shouldn’t leave you feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
Self-care is about doing what makes you feel good. Your self-care practice should serve you and help you feel alive, at ease and well. Self-care means putting your own needs first, and consciously honouring and respecting what your body, mind and soul need in order to feel their best.
I know that we easily forget to make our self-care a priority, because I do it too. But I also know how much better I feel when I am looking after myself, and I want you to feel your best too. That is why for the month of April I am devoting myself to my own self-care. I am going to put myself first. I’m going to consciously make choices that support me, that help me feel nurtured, and that leaving me feeling alive and vibrant.
I would love for you to join me in this month of self-devotion. You don’t need lots of time, just a willingness to put yourself first. All you need to do is join me over on Facebook for daily updates and together we will devote ourselves to a month of self-care.
How will you devote to your self-care in the next month? What habit do you let slip when you get busy – even though you know it helps you feel your best?