“Self care” is a term that has baffled me in the past. I have spent most of my life believing that caring for my own needs was selfish. I thought that giving all I had to those I love was selfless. But age and experience have shown me how wrong I was.
What is self care?
It’s simple, really. It just means doing things for yourself that refresh you: mind, body and spirit. It could be a long walk (I love to take pictures while I’m out walking), a hot bath, a cup of tea, 30 minutes of solitude at the end of the day, a spa day, getting your hair done, painting your nails, reading a book, listening to music, the gym, etc. It’s different for everyone.
It’s not selfish. Because you can’t give to others that which you haven’t given to yourself first. You have to be filled in order to pour out. It’s taken me a long time to learn that lesson. But now that I have, I’m better for it.
Putting it into practice.
Self care for me looks like many of the things on that list above. But before I get to the actual action, I take stock of how I’m feeling. How do I feel right now? Can I continue being productive in this state or do I need to stop and practice self care? Sometimes, after a few deep breaths I can continue on with my day. Sometimes, the deep breaths are enough to tide me over until I can dedicate more time. Sometimes, a 10-minute walk in the midst of chaos is absolutely what’s needed in order to continue pressing forward.
It’s okay to pause, to re-evaluate, to take a step back. It’s okay to be tired, but you can avoid burnout by loving yourself enough to give yourself what you need. After all, we do it for everyone else.