Looking after ourselves is particularly important right now.
We are hearing a great deal about self-care these days. In this article I’d like to bust the myth that you need a booming bank account in order to practise it. The wellness industry certainly benefits from portraying self-care as a luxury in the form of holidays, retreats, spa breaks, products and all manner of experiences which empty our purses.
So what is self-care? Is it a luxury, or an essential?
Self-care is about being as kind and compassionate to ourselves as we would to those we love. The heart of self-care is compassion, so I believe it’s an absolute essential and one that doesn’t have to cost a penny. Imagine you have a resource reservoir. Life with its many challenges and demands pokes holes in our reservoirs.
Self-care is one of the most effective ways we can plug up those holes, keeping our levels where we need them so we can be at our best.
I’d like to suggest self-care doesn’t have to drain our financial resources at all. In fact, if we think about self-care in terms of emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual resources, then self-care can simply be built into our everyday activities.
Self-care at its best is a habit that becomes second nature, like cleaning our teeth. You wouldn’t think twice about making time for your oral health because it matters! However, making ourselves matter often means navigating an assault course of limiting beliefs. We might be willing to believe our hair is ‘worth it’, thanks to L’Oréal but are we really worth it? I mean… really.
Let’s face it, who’s really got time for this self-care malarkey when we have important priorities like children, parents and partners to take care of? If we start believing we are worth it and begin to prioritise ourselves, surely that’s selfish, self-indulgent, self-centred and quite frankly, lazy.
The truth is, being kind and compassionate is great in theory, but often in practice it’s a very different story. It’s this story that hooks us into the myth ‘self- care is a luxury that only those with time and money can afford’.
The key is to find a couple of self-care habits you genuinely enjoy, that fit in with your everyday life. As soon as you experience the benefits, you’ll fiercely protect this time as an essential.
Here are three quick and free daily essentials you can make a part of your self-care routine:
- When you find yourself being self-critical and overly demanding, stop and ask yourself: “what would I do, or say to my best friend?” and then do or say this to yourself.
- Make a list of two or three things you are grateful for, or proud of. This is a great way to strengthen the muscle of self- compassion.
- The 5-minute habit. Find one activity which sparks joy and makes you feel connected. You can break your 5 minutes down, rather than doing it in one block. See what works best for you. The beauty of a 5-minute habit is it can always become longer.