Self care is often a confusing buzz word tossed about flippantly, without much substance. When asking most people what self-care means, I frequently get an explanation that involves manicures, massages, and exercise. Not that those things are not great self-care activities, they are just very far from a complete picture of what embodies the meaning and depth of self-care.
I don’t recall ever hearing a single mention of self-care before I was in my early twenties. Sadly, my life was in crisis before I learned of its existence or ever realized its vital importance. I had been taught to unreservedly place other people’s needs before myself and to die to my own needs. While this sounded like a saintly way to live, it led to nowhere but resentment, depletion, and depression. After I had hit an ultimate low, I had to face the fact that instead of leading a life of sainthood, I was actually in the omnipotent grip of co-dependency. I was sacrificing my own wellbeing for the sake of someone else, and there was nothing glamorous about it.
While my experience was extreme, many people live life tolerating some amount of self-deprivation. For some of you, this might mean you aren’t getting enough massages, but for most of you, this strikes something much deeper.
I believe there are six main areas that are critical to practicing self-care and here are a few thoughts about each.
If you struggle with self-sabotage, difficulty receiving gifts, or workaholism, changes are you are needing a little boost in worthiness.
A few suggestions to address a lack of worthiness are:
Practice self-awareness and pause when you catch yourself trying to earn your value through hard work. Remind yourself of your inherent, unchanging value.
Write personalized affirmations that address your worth and place them in visible areas.
If you find that you rarely get adequate sleep, are disorganized, and never prepared for the next moment, your routine likely needs a little TLC. Your routine is the indispensable piece of self-care that sets the stage for every other area of self-care.
A few suggestions for improving your routine:
Use a day planner. It’s very hard to get out of survival mode or know if you are overcommitting without identifying what fills your schedule. Know the details of what is taking up your time.
Schedule prep time. Set aside time to make meals ahead, exercise, get ready for bed, etc. Use alarms on your phone to remind you of your personal commitments.
Most of us feel intense cultural pressure to improve in this area and we all pretty much know what we should be doing. Yet, without the right tools or self-care in other areas, most of us feel shame that we don’t measure up.
Here are some suggestions to improve in the areas of health:
Choose routines that work for you naturally, rather than ones that feel like obligations. If working out at home feels better and more practical, do that instead of forcing yourself to the gym.
Surround yourself with supportive friends. If your friends practice unhealthy habits, it will be hard to resist engaging with them. Find friends that are living the same lifestyle that you are seeking.
This ranks as one of the top neglected areas of self-care. If you struggle with unclear boundaries, detaching from other people’s pain, or poor communication, you definitely need to enhance your self-care in your relationships.
Here are some suggested ways to address your relationship self-care:
Practice boundary setting. “No” is a critical word that needs to be used frequently in order to say “yes” to your own life. You do not ever have to justify, argue, defend, or explain your decisions to others. Boundaries are vital to protecting our precious space.
Detach with love. It is impossible to have only relationships with people who have it all together 100% of the time. We often watch other people in pain and crisis, but we must be able to love compassionately without owning their pain. Remember, one life per customer. ;-)
If money is one of those areas that you sigh and shake your head at the mention, you need a shift. You might be surviving paycheck to paycheck, struggling with budgeting, or lacking financial independence.
Here are a few suggestions to get your financial self-care back on track:
Get clear about your vision. Find a financial planner and get to work. Taking a little bit of time now to put together a plan will pay off many times over in the future. If you don’t have a target, you won’t hit it.
Get organized. Even if you do get that dream job or that ideal income, without healthy financial management you are likely to be at a disadvantage. So make a budget, create a spending plan, and set some savings goals.
Depression. Feeling lost. Survival. These are all symptoms of poor self-care in the area of passion.
If you would like to improve in this area, here are some suggestions:
Self-development is key! You are a complex being and it will take you a lifetime to get to know every side of yourself. Take classes, hire a coach, read books, and write. Get to know yourself and understand the things that make life vibrant for you.
Write like you’ve got the last pen on earth. What are your biggest dreams? Fears? Plans? Get them on paper. There is magic that happens between the pen and paper and there is no better way to get clear about your passions that are waiting to come to life.
I have barely scratched the surface of each of these self-care areas! Self-care is a very complex topic, but I invite you to go down the rabbit hole with me! There are some glorious miracles along the way and you will discover a whole new way to live. You will find you have the capacity to love others so much more and deeply once you dedicate yourself to loving yourself first. If you want to take this journey further, register for my upcoming “Taking Ownership of Me” class!
Jillian Landis is a Self-Care and Empowerment Coach at Evolve Personal Coaching, blogger, and writer for Nourish + Bloom. Jillian's passion is encouraging individuals to love and care for themselves deeply, so they may serve this world at their greatest potential. Prior to coaching, Jillian served in the mental health profession for 10 years and has a vast knowledge of human behavior, which she utilizes to create effective change in the lives of her clients.