What emotions come to mind when you hear the phrase “self-care”?
Excitement? Calm? Guilt? Anxiety?
Believe it or not, all of these feelings are absolutely normal. Our fast paced culture thrives on the fuel of our endless to-do lists, and the idea of penciling in self-care may seem counter intuitive.
“Yet another thing I need to find time to do,” you may think. The term is loaded with the expectation that we can and should do it all. We should make the time, save the money to take the class or get a babysitter, let go of our responsibilities, and find ourselves in a zen-like state that will alleviate the daily stressors that we face.
The yoga class, the lunch date, or a day at the spa can definitely be just the ticket – just what we needed to relax and help reset our motivation to tackle the rest of our work. These escapes are truly wonderful, but do you ever find that the effects are so short-lived? The stress resumes pretty quickly once we refocus on our daily life, and we may feel that we can’t even self-care the “right” way.
Part of the reason why a massage or a glass of wine may not relieve our stress for as long as we’d like is because we rely on the activity instead of ourselves to help provide the caring in the term self-care.
Let’s propose a change in emphasis – let us self-care. We have the innate ability to care for ourselves, to be self-compassionate as we would with a dear friend or a child. We can take a break, try again tomorrow, express our needs, forgive our shortcomings, celebrate our small victories, and yes, get that massage, or eat that chocolate bar. Not because the massage will cure our back pain, but because we know what helps our body feel relief, and we can schedule that massage without guilt. Not because the chocolate bar will care for us or make it all better, but because we care for us, and we want that chocolate bar.