Self care. Let’s discuss the buzz word of the year.
I hear people saying it all the time. “I need to focus more on self care.”
The phrase self care may conjure images of massages and hot tubs. But it’s so much more than that. So – what exactly does self care mean? What does it look like? How do we take good care of ourselves? And the million dollar question – how come there are so many of us who already know the answers to these questions – and we still aren’t doing it?
Self care is the act of deliberately taking action to improve your emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual well being. I tried to come up with a more interesting description but it’s pretty straightforward. So why is the actual act of self care not so straightforward? I believe that the reason that it’s SO challenging for most people is this: there’s no one who can do it for you. It’s ALL your responsibility. And we already have SO MANY responsibilities to other people. But HELLO! Why are you taking care of stuff for other people before you’re taking care of yourself?!?! PUT ON YOUR OXYGEN MASK FIRST PEOPLE! (and yes, I know I’m yelling. It’s only because I care.) In a society that is constantly trying to control things, this is one thing that we actually can take charge of…and yet, often, we still don’t. We spend so much time with output, we forget how important it is to refill our tank.
When I work with clients, self care is the thing that they struggle with most, sabotage the most, put on the back burner the most. They don’t make their doctors appointments. They don’t get enough sleep. They don’t ask for help. They don’t (otherwise disguised as “can’t”) leave work at work. They felt incredible when they were exercising during the month of January – but then they stopped. Most people know what makes them feel good, but they don’t (or won’t) make time for it.
- Self care can be scheduling (and going to!) your doctor’s appointment.
- Self care can be noticing when you feel totally frazzled and taking 5 minutes to close your eyes and just breathe.
- Self care can be getting into bed by a certain time every night.
- Self care can be waiting for at least an hour after you’ve woken up to look at your phone.
- Self care can be going for a 20 minute walk every morning.
- Self care can be choosing to drink alcohol more moderately.
- Self care can be asking for help.
- Self care can be unfollowing people on social media that bring you down.
- Self care can be taking a mental health day.
- Self care can be finding the time to paint once a week.
- Self care can be signing up for a class.
- Self care can be creating a budget and sticking to it.
- Self care can be putting up boundaries in relationships.
- Self care can be deciding that you’ll turn off your phone for a certain number of hours every day.
- Self care can be getting a massage.
- Self care can be reading a book.
- Self care can be taking the time to look at where you are now and where you’d like to be at this time next year.
- Self care can be having a difficult conversation.
- Self care can be taking a break from social media.
- Self care can be saying No.
- Self care can be having lunch with a friend.
- Self care can be seeing the acupuncturist.
- Self care can be making time for the gym
Clearly, self care doesn’t look the same for everyone. Sure – we all need to see our doctors and get a good night’s sleep. But you don’t have to do all these things in order to take care of yourself. Did something on that list really jump out at you? Start there. Pick one thing that you are willing to make the time for it and notice how it affects your week.
Need someone to hold you accountable? Drop me a note and I’ll check in with you to help you kick your excuses to the curb. My choice? I’m gonna finally start my mornings phone free. I’ve been saying I’m going to do this for a while now. No good excuse why I haven’t – I just haven’t bothered to break the habit. So now, I’m accountable to all of you!!! I’ll let you know how it goes.
Life is too short to spend it on the hamster wheel. Get off for a minute and refuel. Go to the doctor, take a bath, read the paper, have tea without a device. No one is going to take care of you if you don’t take care of yourself.
Michelle Pollack is a leadership coach who works with her clients to lead with confidence, integrity and purpose.