Getting real about Self Care – it is not about buying stuff
How good are you at taking care of yourself – I am not talking here about the occasional massage nor a night out… or even a holiday.
With information overload, multitasking, the increase of pace and distractions – there is an increasing need for self-care as these factors in themselves generate stress and anxiety.
Whether it is in workplaces or with individuals, (including those who are trying to find the time for an appointment…) the issue of working too many hours and taking work home is a common one.
I have to also declare here that I am not a master of self care so this is of particular interest to me.
(In this context over work (paid or not) is when we work (or just keep busy doing) so much that there is a cost to other aspects of our lives, our health, our relationships, our ability to parent and to cultivate other interests outside work.)
There are many reasons why work or doing can start to dominate our lives. Some are based in a creative or giving motivation and come from a place of curiosity; wanting to contribute; loving what we do and experiencing a sense of higher meaning.
Another motivation is fear, which is about avoiding the unpleasant feelings associated with inadequacy; insignificance; meaninglessness; loneliness and not good enough. In the head they might sound like wanting to avoid being overlooked for a promotion, not wanting to be unable to pay the bills, not wanting to drive an old bomb, or not wanting to feel ‘not up to it’.
The avoiding can work like a mask over what we don’t want to see or be with. This could be facing a difficult or challenging home situation, loneliness, or any of life’s big issues… aging; meaninglessness; or lack of sense of control – which work can give us the illusion of having.
I think there are a couple of misunderstandings to clear up in relation to self-care:
- It is the experience that matters rather than what is done.
- Self care is not what we do once we are burnt out, it is a new way of living, an integrated part of our daily lives.
- Self care takes courage and brings us right into the guts of our life.
Self-care is not going on a holiday to ‘recover’; rather it is integrated into our lives, not just once a year, once a month, once a week or once a day. Ideally it is every hour, whether it be a stretch, a check in with the breath, a mindful cup of tea, a little walk, listening to a bit of music, doing a little meditation, being kind to someone else, sweeping the deck or even filing!
There is an intimacy in self-care, which requires courage. It takes courage to step out of our old patterns and habits and into being with what is.
Self-care is a homecoming. The challenge with self-care is that it brings us right into the middle of our lives, exposing where we are at.
Every breath we take can be an act of self-care.
To felt ‘seen’ by another in a relationship makes us feel vibrant, alive, understood and at peace. Research has shown that relationships that are attuned are resilient and have longevity.
Mindfulness can be seen as a kind of intrapersonal attunement. ‘Feeling felt’ promotes the physical and psychological dimensions of well-being and increases our capacity for rewarding relationships. Dan Siegel.
Seeing ourselves with tenderness is self care.
Mindfulness can be seen as the foundation to self-care as it requires presence, tenderness, curiosity, courage and acceptance.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle to growth and stepping out of old patterns?
Increasingly I think it is courage to be with discomfort, pain and vulnerability – our main reasons for not self-caring.
Being with our vulnerability is often where the self-care journey begins.
Mindfulness retreats are a great way to start the journey.