So I am kicking off my own self-care weekend right now!
Why is self-care so important? I can list off a ton of reasons, some of them cliche:
- Can’t pour from an empty well (cliche and yet ever-so-true)
- We need to engage in self-care to set an example for our kids
- Fights burnout, stress, and poor health
- Improves self-esteem
- You deserve it
- It’s the antidote to codependency
- Do you take care of someone else? Then you NEED self-care!
How did we get to this place in society where self-care comes last?
Somewhere in the course of history, self-care took a backseat and we all cosigned on this.
As women became breadwinners as well as equal stakeholders in society (in my grandmother and mother’s generations) they didn’t take any duties off their plates. My grandmother worked at Motorola and gave up few house duties to my grandfather, who loved to mop floors. She cooked for all of us, held huge family dinners, and looked after all her grandchildren.
My mother set aside finishing college to go after her M-R-S degree, support my father in his business, and ultimately to raise me. She never finished college but supported my father in finishing his degree. By then, I was a teenager on my own way to college and she soon moved closer to her parents to take care of them.
Both of these women wore their caretaking as a badge of honor as they put themselves last. Both of these women are no longer with us, plagued by stress and poor health until their final days of degenerative brain diseases -- my grandmother succumbed to Alzheimer’s; my mother fell to CJD.
Personal Development Opportunities Lost
My mother watched countless cooking and travel shows, never once taking that trip or preparing that new recipe. My grandmother had no friends or social life outside our family. Her only hobby was hitting garage sales or flea markets. Needless to say, my mother followed in her mother’s footsteps with her lack of social life and hobbies. The last time I saw my mother have a hobby, it was the late 70s/early 80s when she did “tole painting.” (My mother was an excellent oil painter and I have her leaves tattooed on my arm).
Grandma had no self-care. None. My mother spent her evenings watching TV, reading magazines, and keeping her nails immaculate. Her only splurge in life was a regular haircut and color. No bottle jobs for my mother!
I am convinced both of these women could have benefited from mental and physical health services. They could have benefited from personal relationships outside of marriage and family. Each could have benefited from Al-Anon meetings, which I will mention because September is Recovery Month. Neither of them had a spiritual base like a church or a practice of prayer and meditation. Aside from personal grooming, there was no true uninterrupted “me time” for the women who came before me that I would consider “self-care.”
So let’s discuss then what true “Self-Care” really is!
Self-care is putting yourself first. Self-care is making your own needs a priority. I don’t know how we got into this way of life in which, “I’m so busy,” is such a prized statement. Busy is a drug. We use drugs to bury things and/or escape reality. We avoid self-care as an act of avoiding the self in the same way.
Let’s start a self-care revolution.
Let’s promise here and now to take care of ourselves first. This post is primarily aimed at women because I know mostly women who avoid self-care. My male friends seem to have no problems keeping hobbies, relationships, getting haircuts regularly --and most importantly-- saying no.
Self-care is saying no.
Self-care means saying no firmly and realizing the word “no” is a complete sentence. Guess what? Say “no” more often and you free up your time. What do you use that time for? Self-care! Boom! You set a boundary when you say “no” and then you stick to it. You don’t waver. You don’t take it back. You keep your “no” solid. It’s a wall. It’s a message that says, “my time is not for free and I am not on sale.”
Now that you have time for self-care...what to do?
Do you have female friends outside your marriage, family, and job? If that area is lacking, start there. Are you a caretaker for an elderly family member and/or small children? Then you require self-care time. You need quiet time with yourself. Recover your sense of self.
Opening the gates on a self-care weekend
This is my self-care weekend! I have counted the days and hours to it. I recently switched jobs within the company I work for, attended trainings two weekends in a row out of town, and worked overtime for our annual fundraiser. My previous job never, ever went beyond 40 hours a week. To say my routine has been blown out of the water is an understatement as I also had taken on some freelance work in the middle of this. Then my daughter made a surprise visit for 5 days! Whoa! The last month flew by.
Time to pump the brakes!
This weekend is my first weekend I get two days of straight me time! This weekend I have no work, no training, no overtime, no freelance work, and no kid! Self-care means I will indulge in sleep, but not too much. I’ve made plans for my own self-care and private time. I went home last night exhausted and decided to start self-care weekend early with Netflix and takeout. (My take the “Netflix and Chill”). Saturday, someone will do Reiki on ME for a change! Then I am getting the haircut and style I’ve been too busy to get.
Remember when I said, “Busy is a drug?” Being too busy to get a haircut is just plain wrong. It’s like cheating on myself. So that’s over. We all slip sometimes, but we have to reboot and reset! Sunday, I am attending a Reiki share I haven’t been to in ages due to my former work schedule. I had attended so regularly before! I also plan to read and relax. I plan to immerse myself in my study of “A Course in Miracles” and other spiritual texts. I also plan on yoga in my living room! I cannot wait because I know this effort is important to feed my soul this weekend. This is my idea of self-care. This is what works for me.
Do you need ideas on how to create more self-care in your own life? Not sure where to start? I can help; I’m a coach!