How many times have you heard this?
“I’ve been so busy, so I’m going to take some self-care time this weekend.”
“Once I finish up this giant project, I’m going to give myself a little self-care.”
“Great!,” you think. “That person is really looking after themselves.” Except, I see this all the time. And it’s part of the reason I think self-care gets a bad rap.
Here’s the cycle I’ve observed: People throw themselves into a project full-force. They run themselves ragged—albeit doing great work—and use self-care as a way to soothe the inevitable burnout. Either way, I see remarkable and generous people assume that self-care is something that comes later—after their work is done.
I’m relieved that self-care is starting to get some traction, especially in change-making communities. It’s starting to get the respect that it deserves. But I still think there’s something missing from the way we’re crafting our self-care.
Here’s what I’d like you to know:
We don’t have to earn self-care.
We are already inherently worthy of the self-respect and healing that self-care can offer. We don’t have to prove anything in order to be deserving. There’s no self-care prize for the most sleep-deprived among us.
We are already amazing enough. Self-care is not a merit-based activity. It’s our birthright to treat ourselves with care and respect, which is all self-care is, really. It’s not about bubble baths in exchange for most consecutive days worked.
Self-care is not tied to our productivity. Neither is our identities. We don’t have to wait to start claiming some kindness for ourselves. We can begin, right now, exactly as we are.
You are already enough.
Self-care isn’t separate from our real lives—it’s a part of it.
As I mentioned above, self-care is not all champagne and bubble baths. It’s the real, sometimes messy, work of loving yourself well enough to meet your own needs. It’s the daily work of being present with your own heart.
You don’t have to go somewhere else to find it. You don’t need to buy anything. You can enjoy it right here and now in some quiet time in the home where you already live, with what’s already in your refrigerator. Or by just taking a few deep breaths in your own body.
Maybe it’s not the sexy self-care we’ve been sold—bucolic retreat centers and endless chocolate truffles—but isn’t that a relief? Our self-care doesn’t need to live up to any particular standard. It still counts, even if it’s just a few deep breaths before a conference call, or a cup of tea after the kids are finally asleep. Whatever our self-care is, it belongs to us.
Ultimately, it’s about finding ways to infuse self-care into your whole life. You have permission to start right now. Believe me, I know from experience that it self-care doesn’t need to wait, and it doesn’t need to look a particular way. You are already worthy and already capable.
Author: Christy Tennery-Spalding
Editor: Travis May
Image: Flickr/Sacha Chua