Redefining “Self-Care”

I talk about self-care a lot. A LOT! It’s an important part of my wellness and healthy aging plans and my career. It’s become increasingly popular over the years and social media is full of prescriptions for all the things you should be doing (and buying!) to practice self-care.

I’m here to propose that “should” be removed entirely from the conversation. What if self-care practices aren’t something that you do because external experts have advised you to?

What if, instead, it’s a simple practice of checking in with yourself frequently? Asking yourself three simple questions (curtesy of Kristy Arbon’s Somatic Self-Compassion work) that can help you get in touch with your inner landscape and allow your decisions to emerge from there? How do I feel? What do I need? What can I do?

What if we learned to care for ourselves the same way we would a three-year old?

Are you hungry? Let’s have a snack. What would you like? Can we find a reasonable compromise that will satisfy desires without causing harm? Can we plan to keep some healthy and convenient options on hand for the future?

Tired? Can we take a minute to stretch or move or just close our eyes and regroup? Can we do some restorative yoga at lunch and cancel any non-essential plans this weekend to enjoy some downtime?

We wouldn’t give a child a list of 20 items that have been prescribed by a self-care guru as daily requirements! Let’s not impose such rigidity on ourselves in the name of wellness. Instead, might we choose to let go of the dogma and let self-care be a practice of caring for ourselves, our needs, our bodies, and our feelings with kindness and compassion?

A revolution like this just doesn’t happen spontaneously. We need to make it a priority. Make ourselves a priority. What if my feelings matter? What if my comfort matters? What if I actually matter? How would I approach my day?

Likely some forethought will be helpful. If I have an energy crash every day at 2:00 that compels me to reach for artificial energy, I could research ways to prevent the crash or healthier ways to navigate it. It is beneficial to tuck some tricks up your sleeve in advance. But rather than bending over backwards to do the tricks just for the sake of checking off a box, see what tricks are going to fulfill your current needs. Let the tricks work for you!

What if self-care is actually a lifestyle based on self-inquiry, self-acceptance and self-compassion rather than more tasks to perform? Let’s find out!

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