You wake up early for other people in order to get them out of bed. You make breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even snacks for other people. You run errands for other people. You work for other people. You come home and likely work even harder for other people. You forego time for yourself in order to give your time to other people.
Are you sensing a theme here? What about you? We do so much for everyone else around us that we often end up burning out or damaging our health – mentally, physically, spiritually.
We’ve all heard the saying, “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” but it’s true. How are you going to be present, raise, and love others fully, if you aren’t giving to yourself first?
For a moment, let’s imagine we’re on a plane. Before taking off, the flight attendant always gives the safety presentation and says “in the case of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on before assisting others.” Why do you think they say that? Because we can’t help others if we don’t help ourselves first.
Maybe you’re a parent, or maybe you have aging parents. Maybe you feel overwhelmed with things to get done, or maybe there’s a variety of other reasons in your unique life that cause you to feel like self-care is indulgent, or narcissistic, or you’re just too busy for this thing called “self-care.” Whatever it is, many of us feel guilty about taking time for ourselves.
But if we want to be our best selves, and if we want to be fully present for our family and our friends, we need to take care of our vehicle, our instrument, our body that we live in – and our relationship to our body – in order to do so.
Consider this: Self-care – that thing we think is indulgent and unnecessary – could actually benefit your relationships, your work, your energy, your health. Self-care is actually less of a thing to do on your free time and more of a priority for you to schedule in.
Self-care isn’t just a one-time thing. It’s not a project; there is not an end-goal with self-care. I mean, do you ever hear anyone say “well, I brushed my teeth today. Now I never have to brush them again, because they’re clean now.” No, every day we need to brush our teeth. Self-care, for our body, mind, and spirit, is no different. It’s a relationship with you, and as we all know, relationships need constant nurturing in order to thrive. Self-care is a process, and it’s a practice.
So what are some basic ideas for self-care? It can be as simple as taking a bath or going for a walk. It can be reading a few pages of a book in silence, or it can be cranking your favorite music up loud. It can be lighting a few candles, or take a breath of an essential oil. It can be calling up a loved one or joining a class that interests you. Self-care can literally be whatever you want it to be – as complicated or as simple as you’d prefer, as long or as short as you have available. Just remember that in order to sustain self-care, it needs to be personal to you and practical for your life. Do what is best for YOU.
Most importantly, you don’t have to earn self-care. We often assume that we can’t relax until we achieve a goal, or we think “once I have a certain thing, or I look a certain way, or whatever it might, then I’ll feel good”… but you won’t. Not unless you start with feeling good first. It happens from the inside out, not the outside in.
To be clear, self-care isn’t what you think you “should” be doing, it’s what you WANT to be doing. It needs to be personal and meaningful to you. It needs to make YOU happy, not anyone else. Self-care is not an “if… then… when…” It’s for right now, as you are.
What are the things that you could do, that you know make you feel good, feel happy, bring you true joy?
Choose two things, and schedule them into your calendar. Take at least 30 minutes, at least once a week. That’s all! But make it a priority.
Because when you start filling your own cup, your life and the life of those around you, gets fuller and fuller as well.