Self-care is the art of meeting our needs, in order to be able to operate at full throttle.
Without it, we eventually become burned out and are unable to give as much of ourselves to others.
Hence, self-care is a wholly unselfish act—although it can feel the opposite when we first start to prioritize it.
Self-care is also a great deal more than pampering ourselves—although pampering can be an important element to it.
True self-care is ensuring that all of our needs—spiritual and emotional, as well as mental and physical—are met. It requires self-knowledge and courage.
Why courage? Because, once we’re clear on what all of our needs are, we then need to set some boundaries. And that often means beginning to say “no” to people who are used to always hearing “yes” from us.
When we start to practice authentic and radical self-care, others around us can bristle—if our new-found commitment to our own wellbeing affects the level of attention they’re used to receiving from us.
This is when the “selfish” label starts to arise. And we must reject it when it does.
Selfishness is mindlessly and non-compassionately putting our own needs and wants ahead of the needs of others.
Self-care is prioritizing our own needs so that we are better able to help others meet theirs—and taking care of other people’s needs only where it is appropriate for us to do so.
Self-care is refusing to allow truly selfish people to project their needs on to us for fulfillment.
At times when we find our energy levels are depleted, or enthusiasm for life is lacking, then we need to take a look at our whole life and determine what needs are getting overlooked.
With each area of your life, ask yourself what you need to have in place in order to able to be the best version of yourself.
Any other personal needs.
Each of us is unique and needs different things. We need to clarify for ourselves what these are before we can go about putting them all in place.
So, make a list. And once you’ve done that, circle the ones that are not being met.
What is the impact on my life of allowing these needs to go unmet?
What difference would it make if they were met?
What will be the cost to me of not meeting them?
How can I go about doing that?
Then, it’s decision time:
What boundaries do you need to establish?
Who do you need to communicate them to?
How are you going to do that?
There will always be difficult and demanding circumstances to be dealt with in life. When it comes to setting boundaries with others, the timing will never be exactly right and if we wait until a particular situation sorts itself out, another will come along soon enough to replace it.
And here is the part where we get to indulge in a little pampering: ask yourself, “What can I do just for my own simple pleasure? What “treats” taken regularly would restore my mind, body and soul?”
Commit to doing something purely for its self-care benefit at least once a week—although daily would be better.
It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money—it can be as simple as shutting the bathroom door on the rest of your world for an hour and soaking in the tub. Or it could be as luxurious as a weekly massage if your budget allows it. It’s not important what you do—what matters is how it benefits you.
So true self-care is not purely a solo act. We need to prioritize it and action it ourselves. But we also need to enlist the support of our network to help us out—obviously being equally available to support them as needed too.
We are interdependent beings and we get to be our best—and give the best of ourselves—when we are brimming with energy and vitality.
So whether it’s about saying “No” to others or saying “Yes” to ourselves, we need to be brave and wise—and be there for us!
The times when we feel we can’t possibly fit it in are most likely the times when we need it most. And, ultimately, it is up to each of us to be responsible for recharging our own batteries.