Self-care sounds like a luxury, doesn’t it?
Naturally, it conjures up thoughts of unwinding at a dreamy spa with your girlfriends, champagne flute in tow… and a sort of nagging guilt waiting in the wings, ready to pounce.
Okay, let me put it out there – we need to have a healthy relationship with self-care and redefine what self-care actually means.
Self-care isn’t only an indulgent fare – it’s not only about bath bombs, spa days, retail therapy, or drowning yourself in snacks while a Netflix marathon is in progress (that escalated quickly).
I mean, it can be – but that’s not the only way.
At the end of the day, self-care is about cultivating a healthy relationship with yourself.
And that’s doable, no?
But first, why on earth do we think self-care is selfish?
Okay, let’s start with this – being part of a community is intrinsic to our survival, and communities have rules so that everything doesn’t descend into chaos.
This requires each and everyone of us to follow those rules, even when it doesn’t always agree with our personality.
And, women have been traditionally cast into the role of carers (whether you can keep a house plant alive or not) – which means we’ve been putting our needs on the back burner for centuries.
Essentially, being part of a community means functioning as a united entity – which creates this desire to always fit in.
To think that you’ll break away to spend some time for yourself triggers a lot of alarms in your brain, which has been wired for years to not do anything to stick out.
So why do we think self-care is selfish?
Two words: social conditioning (which runs so deep).
I know what you’re thinking – what exactly happens when you put yourself first
and how do you really do it?
Okay, here we go.
Number #1 You have more brain space to live and work in flow
Have you ever wondered why your brain is so foggy all the time?
You were so creative once – so amazing at thinking on your feet.
But now that spark seems to be fading fast.
You know what?
Your spark, your magic, is right there – but it’s hibernating under layers and layers of utter exhaustion.
What’s the fix?
● Take some time out to do absolutely nothing (even if it’s just 15-20 mins) – if you keep cramming more and more into your brain, it will protest (loudly)
● Do a digital detox before bed (those notifications can wait)
● Create space for rest: During the day and before bedtime whenever your body and mind are calling for it. And if you really need some peaceful shut eye, a freshly brewed cup of chamomile tea can do wonders.
Number #2 You sign up for commitments you actually feel like keeping
I know that feeling and I bet so do you – when a family commitment, playdate, outing, habit shift, or project comes up and you simply don’t feel like going through with it.
And no, it doesn’t make you a terrible person.
Sure, sometimes we do have to suck it up and go through with things that aren’t exactly fun or rewarding.
But that doesn’t have to become a pattern in your life.
When you put yourself first, making small tweaks in your life (I’ll get to that in a moment), you’ll actually sign up for things you enjoy (and be less grouchy for those misaligned commitments too!)
What’s the fix?
● Get to know yourself – what do you really like doing vs what do you do to fit in? What motivates to do something? What’s your working style? There no right or wrong answers – go explore!
● Establish clear boundaries – Avoid saying yes when you mean no, whether it’s a family member, colleague, your client, you get the drift. When you constantly let people barge into your space without permission, your back is always up against the wall. Not a pleasant feeling.
Number #3 Your mental and physical health improve
Although we don’t realize it, living without thinking, without intention or purpose can have debilitating effects on our mental and physical health.
…Which means you have more energy to actually do the things you love.
What’s the fix?
● Make space for movement – Moving your body a little every day can keep so many health issues at bay. You don’t have to work out like a Spartan warrior – simply pick a physical activity you actually enjoy doing and dive in.
● Check in with yourself every day – Sit with your feelings – both positive and negative. Celebrate your wins, strategize for challenging times ahead, and pat yourself on the back even if things go sideways.
You’re human first.
Number #4 You’re simply happier every day
Happiness is a culmination of both big and little shifts in your life.
If you start living your life on your terms, you’ll be happier – simple as that.
And no, you don’t have to feel guilty about it.
What’s the fix?
● Reclaim your magic and wear it on your sleeve – in your work, in your personal life, and in rest. Just be your wonderful self.
So what really is self-care?
Simply put – it’s taking care of yourself. Yeah, literally.
Listen to your body.
Honour your instincts.
Invite balance into your life.
Remember – only when your cup is full can you pour for others.
So go ahead and put yourself first – today and every day!
Savitha Nanjappa, is an award winning Success Coach, Entrepreneur, and the Founder of the thriving global coaching platform Success With Savitha. Her mission is to help clients create a wildly successful life and business while being the best version of themselves.