What is Self Care and Why Does it Matter?
A bit of a backstory:
In the last 6 years, I was a full time student holding down both a full-time job and a part-time job. For almost the last 2 years, I worked 7 days per week and attended classes at night for post-graduate studies in holistic healing. My schedule was jam-packed, I had money in the bank, several fulfilling relationships, friendships, family by my side, and a promising future….and I was miserable. I complained about just about everything and constantly groaned about how “overwhelmed” I was. I got to the point where everything in my life was “overwhelming” to me and slowly, the best parts of myself began to wither away inside. A new, perfectionist version of myself began to emerge, living life unconsciously on autopilot, deeply disconnected from everything that truly mattered in my life. I can’t even tell you how many times people told me that I needed to “slow down” and “make time for myself”, but for some reason, I just couldn’t hear them. My relationships began to crumble, my health declined significantly, I lost my passion for school, and eventually, I lost my jobs.
What happened? How did such a youthful, ambitious, and bright woman begin to plummet into darkness, depression, and anxiety, and worse, lose sight of all that she had to be grateful for? I had stopped taking care of myself.
I mistook money for self-worth, the love of others for self-esteem, and a busy schedule for a sense of importance in this world. I thought I loved myself and cared for myself by pushing myself and working hard to achieve my goals. Eventually, that very grind was what made me lose sight of my goals and myself. I ran myself ragged and everyone could see it but me. I was like a car running on fumes and I relied on others to constantly fill me up because I was too exhausted to put any ounce of effort into replenishing my energy and over all health and wellness. There the cycle began: I stopped loving myself enough to care for myself, so I tried to get what I needed from others. The people I cared for then became exhausted trying to care for me and my relationships crumbled. I then loved myself less because I was pushing away those I cherished without knowing how to stop. So, I poured myself into my work, which only further exhausted me, and so on and so forth. The most ironic part, was that I was working toward a career in guiding others to authentic self-love and fulfillment in their lives! Yikes!
One day, when I had seemingly lost it all, on the verge of a zero balance, feeling utterly alone, it dawned on me: I have no one left to complain to. I have no one left to save me. I have to save myself….But where do I begin? Self care. Baby steps. Little by little. Everyday.
I can now say that months later, I am feeling more abundant and blessed than ever, watching my business, my relationships, and my sense of self-worth grow and blossom everyday.
To build on this trajectory, I have decided to challenge myself to a month of self care activity called #selfcareseptember. Each day for the month of September, I will participate in an act of self care and share that with all of you! In addition, I will share a daily affirmation or mantra to promote this sense of self love and acceptance from the inside out. I sincerely hope that you will join in with me each day and share your own tips and tricks in comments for myself and other readers to indulge in!
What is self care, anyway? Why does it matter?
Self care includes any intentional actions you take to care for your physical, mental and emotional health—body, mind, and spirit. Self care extends beyond the typical thoughts of bubble baths, massages, and mani-pedis (although those totally count!). Self care is first and foremost about valuing yourself enough to carve time out of your life so that you can refuel, recharge, and recenter. It includes everything from proper sleep, to holistic nutrition, to a spiritual practice, to making sure you back up your documents to avoid future stress. It is both the little and big steps that we must do to ensure that we feel balance in our lives. Self care is asking yourself what you need, everyday, and making sure that you get it!
“But that’s selfish!” some might say. “But I have kids and a spouse and pets to care for! I don’t have time to think of myself!” others might argue. To those people, I pose the question: How can you pour into the cups of others if your own cup runs dry? As Eleanor Brownn once said, “When you take the time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” Self care is fundamental not only to our personal well-being, but to our relationships with those closest to us. It empowers us to be more available and generous with people around us in an authentic way, while modeling to them how we want to be treated. You have a big family to care for? Awesome! Don’t you also want to model for your children how to a be self-reliant, strong, capable human being, who invests in their own wellness? Totally. So start with you! Even if you are a single young adult like myself, you hold the power to act as an example to your loved ones and help them feel empowered to truly care for themselves. Self care, is actually the most balancing act in our world. It enables us to be conscious of self, so that we can act selflessly when need be.
We are all deserving and divine children of the Universe, blessed with the power to know, love, and nurture ourselves, just as our creator does. By leaning into this knowing, it makes it much easier to start!
What I did today
Self care takes courage, commitment and willingness. The first step in this process is to simply CHOOSE yourself. To choose your health, happiness, and well being. By actively choosing you, you have made an agreement with yourself, and the with Universe, to finally make a change and commit yourself to the journey toward genuine fulfillment, wellness, balance, and bliss. For today, I will begin this adventure to self acceptance and care by affirming that I choose myself and choose to take the steps toward creating a better relationship with myself, demonstrating that I am worthy of love and attentive, gentle care.
“I choose to be kind to myself today, and act in a way that serves my greatest and highest good in all ways—mental, emotional, and physical. I choose to love and care for myself so that I may love and care for others.”
Today I choose me. I pray that you may choose yourself, know yourself, and love yourself with all the care and kindness you deserve. Namaste. xo