I really really really want to be the person who invests in themselves. Because after all that is what self-care is at root. It’s recognizing that you deserve to be a priority. But why does it have to be so hard?
More and more I’m realizing that the specter of self-care becomes another reason to berate myself. It ends up being something on my to-do list. It becomes something I SHOULD do, or HAVE to do. Rather than something I want to do or truly deserve. At this point, it has become self-defeating.
In earlier posts I’ve mentioned trying to take words like SHOULD out of my dictionary. They’re not helpful, they’re not motivating and they certainly don’t make me feel good. The same applies here. If it’s only adding on the pressure then it’s no longer self-care.
So, how do we change the narrative? Can we re-think self-care or make it work for us? Life is about balance. And here’s the crux. Looking after ourselves helps us find that balance in life. Taking time for ourselves helps reset our equilibrium. It also gives us the time to catch up or enjoy. Without it my life would be running between my jobs and chores with little time to actually stop and enjoy the fruits of my labour.
The biggest barrier to self-care is often time. If I don’t feel like I have time to do all the little bits and pieces that are never going to get done. Then I certainly don’t have time to enjoy myself. I mean who has time for that. What a luxury!
Changing the narrative around self-care means re-thinking our priorities. Particularly how we prioritize ourselves. Somehow, I’ve become the last thing on my to-do list. I’m that thing I get to do once I’ve done everything else. Often for everyone else. When did that happen?
I’m now determined to make myself a priority not an option. We’ve heard all the platitudes like “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and they’re commonplace for one simple reason. They’re true. And yet. I keep expecting myself to run around and do everything whilst running on empty. If I expected my car to do this I would end up on the side of the road with no petrol in my tank. We’re humans. We need fuel. And self-care is part of the picture.
Make Self-Care Compulsory
Everything I’ve said so far is great. But it’s all lip service unless I actually do something about it. I read somewhere that you should put self-care in your diary like you would anything else. Once it’s in your diary it’s unmovable. Just like anything else in your diary.
For me, self-care is the last thing on my list and often gets shuffled down and finally off by taking on new things. The minute I sit down I’m aware that something hasn’t been cleaned in a while or I could get ahead of the laundry or I could do x, y and z. I can always think of something.
But what if I didn’t brush it out the way? What if I made it compulsory? When I first read this idea I brushed it off. I didn’t think I could commit. But why not? Why shouldn’t I commit to self-care in the same way I do many other things that aren’t as important as myself?
The How-To of Self-Care
There’s loads of ideas out there about how to make time for ourselves happen. I’ve written a post for the wonderful Nic’s Healthy Life on that very subject. But at the root of it all is one simple fact. If we don’t commit to putting ourselves first at times, if we don’t commit to self-care, then it’s not going to happen.
Yes there are wonderful ideas about making it part of your routine. I do find this helpful. Whether it’s walking part or the full way to work. Or being super organized to take the pressure off later and give myself some free time. Yes, its’ about saying no to others (here’s my post on how!) and investing time now for long-term gain.
It’s that but it’s so much more. It comes down to one thing for me. How do I view myself and how do I prioritize myself? Am I placing everyone else and their needs above my own? Whilst this may sound like a selfish ideology (here’s why self-care isn’t selfish) it doesn’t have to be. I’m not saying do everything only for you and forget the world. Doing things for other people, volunteering time, being part of a community, socializing and spending time with others are invaluable forms of self-care. All I’m saying is, don’t lose yourself in the mix.
What are your thoughts on self-care? Do you manage to do it? Do you think it’s about prioritzing yourself or do you think about it in a different way? Let me know below!