Let me start by demonstrating the opposite of self-care through highlighting tough times… It’s because I find it strange, and quite paradoxical, that when I’m in the pits of whatever ‘crisis’ I’m dealing with I choose to stop taking care of myself and start abusing instead. I know. I’ve been there. Seen it, felt it, done it. I’d rather go have a glass of wine, or a beer, or ten. Puff on a cigarette. Refuse to exercise. Eat a block of chocolate. Hibernate from the world. Sometimes it just makes it feel easier to deal with.
Why do many of us find that punishing ourselves, to whatever extreme, as opposed to taking care of ourselves in a time of need, works?
But this is only temporary. Not surprisingly, the guilt will often settle in not long after… and off the cycle goes…
I am not saying I can’t feel exhausted, upset, angry, resentful, guilty, at a loss, lonely, or whatever it is I’m feeling when I am in my dark place. It’s more the paradox that ‘I choose’ to make myself feel worse. That is what I am personally trying to be more aware of and also bring to your attention.
I believe we all need to feel these so-called negative emotions in order to look at the whole experience of what happens in the course of our lives. The point I want to make is we need to take better care of ourselves ‘all’ the time, so when we are in our dark place we’re better equipped to deal with it.
Doing one helpful act (or thought), the smallest thing, every day can make such a difference to your perspective and decisions.
Whether it’s choosing to make a wholesome meal that takes an extra 30 minutes to prepare versus a 10-minute take-away one. Whether it’s an extra hour of sleep, or doing some exercise, versus getting into the office at the break of dawn. I have been guilty of not washing my hair for an extra 15 minutes of time in the office, the result… feeling skanky dirty hair all day tied back in a pony tail and guilty that I didn’t look after myself in order to finish a relatively simple task. On reflection, had I taken care of myself first, I’d have been in a better frame of mind and I probably would have been more efficient and happier through out my day.
It sounds simple, but often it’s hard to do, or be that person who looks after no 1. We question if we’re being selfish to look after me versus my kids, a partner, a boss, a colleague, or a client?
I found doing one small thing a day to look after myself forms a habit and the ball rolling in properly valuing me. From a selected first ritual, like applying moisturiser after a shower, makes my skin feel soft, only takes one minute, makes me feel like I’ve taken care of myself, and I start to view the rest of my day differently. Once that ritual gets practiced, it forms a habit and something you can’t live without. Then you can start new rituals…
Respecting yourself by taking care of you does take ‘effort’ and ‘choice’.
The choice you make to believe you are important. The effort is to do it and be aware of it everyday. I believe the core principle of my coaching and managing your life this practicing self-care.
Experiment a little…
Stop to think about ways you’re not taking care of yourself, the small things to the extreme things. Try to be aware of it through your day, your week, over past month’s events…
Come up with one ritual you can start, to begin looking after yourself better. A ritual you can do every day and doesn’t take up much time.
When it comes to doing your ritual, each time you start make sure you acknowledge your choice to take care of yourself and the effort you’ve put in to maintain it.
After a while I hope it becomes second nature, and you can start on more self-care rituals.