What is self-care?
I frequently get asked by mums,
How do I prioritise myself?
How do I fit it in?
And how do I do it without feeling guilty?
Self-care is not unfamiliar to any of us and quite often we can think of self-care as booking a massage or booking a weekend away or having a bubble bath. Don’t get me wrong, all of those forms of self-care are amazing and I recommend them highly, but we need to broaden the scope.
I believe in how we perceive self-care and how we define it for ourselves, because in my opinion, self-care is deeply personal.
Self-care is all about paying attention to our individual needs AND honouring them.
There’s two key parts to that. It’s one thing to observe and pay attention to what you need. It’s another thing entirely to actually act on that and honour that for yourself.
Self-care is not a luxury – self-care is essential.
It’s not selfish.
I know we can tell ourselves that on a conscious level but it’s another thing entirely to actually believe that and to allow it for yourself. It’s actually a human need that we are honouring when we engage in self-care as it is ensuring that our needs are fulfilled and it’s essential to our health and our wellbeing. Because when we neglect ourselves, we actually end up depleted or stressed and that is where our health problems come from (among other reasons).
So instead of thinking and perceiving self-care as being this luxurious thing that you pay for, or that you book every now and then – I would love to invite you to start to think about it as a daily practice. It’s about paying attention to your needs. The smallest of needs that are equally as important. Every single day.
Some examples of that are sleep and nourishing food. Sunshine, fresh air, deep breaths, professional help, chatting with a friend or family member. Maybe it’s sitting down with a cup of tea and a good book, or your journal, maybe it’s dancing around the kitchen.
There’s so many things this could be, and it’s highly individual.
What does Self-Care look like for me?
1. Allowing myself to alter my routine to give my body more sleep.
I was telling myself that I only needed 6-7 hours sleep a night and over time, I became overwhelmingly tired and burnt out. So over the past 12 months, I have allowed myself more sleep and started paying attention to what it is that my body really needs and altering my routine to honour that.
2. Letting those night-time jobs slide some days
I’ve always been ‘one of those people’ who loves to regain order in the kitchen by doing the dishes and a sweep of the floor each night. I’ve always been particular about this but it’s another thing I’ve been letting myself off the hook with and giving myself permission to go to bed instead, especially when I’m feeling irritable or fatigued. Instead of pushing through these feelings and doing those jobs, I just get up a little bit earlier and do it in the morning – and magically, it feels so much easier in the morning when I feel fresh and ready to go.
So how do you know what it is that you need? And the answer to that is that you need to listen.
You need to tune into your body.
Turn off the noise and get quiet with yourself because our bodies hold great wisdom and they never lie. Our job is to get out of our heads and into our bodies in order to know what it is that we need.
What we need to do is actually become aware of what our body’s telling us through how we feel and the little voice that we hear a honour it and act on it. So when it’s telling you, “I just want to sit down and put my feet up” or “I just want to go to bed” – actually following through on that.
Now I know that it is sometimes not possible to always act on it immediately. Sometimes there are situations where we do have to get things done and we can’t always have what we need immediately, but it’s actually paying attention to what your body is asking and doing what we can to listen and to act.
Like, for example, sometimes I know I would love to go for a run, but in that moment I might be doing homework with my boys and I know that I can’t go out for a full run. So, instead I might just step outside for five minutes and do some squats, a quick run to the chook pen and back – or just a simple 5 simple deep breaths.
Here are 3 tips on what you can do every day to practice self-care:
1. Check in with yourself at intervals during the day. For example, at four key intervals. When you wake up, mid morning, lunchtime and late afternoon. So at these times of day, do a quick check in with yourself and ask yourself two questions.
How am I feeling? What is it that I need?
This is paying attention to your needs and it may be five deep breaths, a glass of water or a bit of quiet time to yourself.
What am I grateful for?
Acknowledging how you are feeling, for example, yes I’m feeling a little bit tired, but then taking the time to remember what I have, such as beautiful children in front of me doing their homework, dinner is cooking and I have my health.
It’s these little moments of gratitude that are so powerful and so important to bring you back to an abundance mindset rather than a scarcity mindset.
2. Schedule! Schedule! Schedule!
Schedule selfcare daily, weekly, monthly and even annually as well. It can be a massage, haircut, coffee with a friend or a visit to the gym. Schedule the things you love to do and that is really the key. Whatever feels good for you is self-love!
3. Habit Stacking!
So a great example of this is when you brush your teeth, do a high five in the mirror to yourself, or have some affirmations on the mirror that you repeat and say every morning and night when you are brushing your teeth. With them on your mirror, you see them, read them and recite these positive affirmations every single day, twice a day! Another option is to recite positive affirmations to yourself as you lay in bed before sleep at night.
A lot of us have a belief that we are not worthy of self-care, and this is where we all need to focus on shifting and kicking mommy guilt to the curb. This is something I explore in my coaching with mothers and we go deep on the beliefs around, “Why do I not allow it for myself? What is my belief that is stopping me from doing these things for myself and doing them consistently?” Together, we work on the mindset behind this, as well as the action.
When mum-guilt gets in the way, make the decision for yourself, that you will focus on self-care habits, you will schedule them and you will do the things that feel good for you. Trust me when I say, because I have done this, I have built self-care into my life and it is no longer a luxury for me. It is a normal part of my life because I’ve worked on the belief that I am worthy. I’ve worked on the belief that it’s not a special thing to do. It’s just part of looking after me. It’s essential for my health and wellbeing so that I can be the best version of me.
This month in our GLOW community we are focusing on Support Systems and what, where and how those systems across all areas of life create ease, flow and effectiveness. Systems set us free and it is definitely a form of self-love. Discover more about the GLOW community and join here http://www.benitabensch.com/glow
We’d love to see you!