Self Care Series - Part 2: The #1 Shift to Have More Self Care in Your Life
The Biggest Step Towards to Having More Self Care in Your Life
[Do you feel depleted of self care? Do you feel stretched to the max? Do you long to feel nourished? Keep reading. This is the biggest step towards having more self care in your life.]
As a person who also happens to be a business owner, a Mom to three little kids, a spouse, and much more, I know how challenging it can feel to put your needs ahead of the looming need to-dos, should dos, and want to-dos. I understand how little time there is in the day. The wishes for 48 hours instead of 24 so that you could get that much more done.
The truth of the matter is that you can wish away for more time, but it isn’t going to get you anywhere. Most of the time you’ll feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to fit in self care. Everything else will feel so much more important. You’ll wonder how you can lead your life with the things that are of real priority for you.
It was through my research on stress and how it impacts health that I came upon one of the most important mindset shifts for curating a life that feels good: perspective.
I began to pay attention to how I was defining what self care looks like in action. I noticed that I had a limited definition of it based on what I was being shown in advertisements: quiet bubble baths, relaxing evenings at the beach, weekend getaways, visits to the spa, and evenings reading a book for leisure. All of these practices are lovely and, in my experience, do feel deeply nourishing and fulfilling. However, they’re not realistic goals in this season of life with little humans. (Heck, going to the bathroom in peace is a major win for most parents.) You don’t have to have small children to feel this way. There are many times in life that call for focused energy, like being in an intense university program or building your career. During these times it’s easy to push the idea of self care to the side, especially when we limit our definition to these practices that, quite frankly, feel luxurious and out of reach.
I began to believe that self care was not available to me. I began to believe that I couldn’t practice self care until my children were older and didn’t need me as much. And then the timeline shifted down even more when I added in my plans for growth in my business. That, my friends, made me feel very sad and defeated. This was not okay. The worst part wasn’t the lack of spa visits or quiet bubble baths. The worst part was how this idea felt deep within me and it did not feel good. There had to be a better way.
Often when I feel stuck I go to the definition of what I’m spiraling about. I revisited the definition of self care and noticed a great oversight on my part. If self care is about preserving or improving your health and protecting your well-being and happiness, then there was a huge list of practices that I was missing in my definition - the practices that we label only as daily habits rather than recognizing their contribution to our self care. It’s as simple as that. Really. Once I began to redefine what self care looks like in action I felt an immediate weight off of my shoulders. Rather than feeling like there was one more thing that I wasn’t doing in life, I realized that I actually was practicing self care everyday.
I was taking care of myself when I
brushed my teeth,
had a shower,
drank a glass of water,
fed myself nourishing, healthy food,
walked up the stairs instead of taking the elevator,
listened to music,
visited the doctor when I wasn’t feeling well,
took a timeout from little human chaos,
said no to a request or offer in favour of what I needed (rather than what someone else needed),
parked just outside of town so that I could have a 10 minute walk (and save money on parking), and
took a moment to breathe when my children were driving me crazy.
By shifting my perspective I began to notice all of these micro-moments that I hadn’t recognized as self care. I realized that I was actually taking care of myself really well … everyday. I needed to give myself some grace, so I did and it felt unbelievably freeing.
How to Identify Self Care in Your Life
Now that we have a better understanding of what self care is (and isn’t) we can move on to identifying how you’re already practicing self care in your life. To do this we’re going to look at the key words in the definition of self care: health, well-being, and happiness. There are so many different definitions of these three words so trying to figure out what feeds health, well-being, and happiness can feel like trying to hit a moving target. Instead, I find it most useful to turn to the wellness wheel, which looks at eight dimensions of wellness, or your “health” in eight slices of your life. Below is my take on this idea, which I call the Eight Elements of Life.
Community = social connection, family, friends
Service = career, volunteering; being of service to others
Heart = emotions, feeling, the psychological part of you
Body = the physical part of you; your body - moving it, feeding it, giving it love and kindness
Spirit = inner knowing, connection to self, connection to something greater
Brain = intellect, curiosity, learning, growing, challenging
Abundance = wealth in all areas of life (e.g. relationships, money, health, time - to give to yourself and others, Nature); gratitude for what we already have
Habitat = surroundings, home, Nature
Let’s do a little exercise, shall we? Take a letter sized piece of paper and divide it into eight sections. You can do this either by drawing the lines with a ruler or folding the paper to make creases. To fold the paper into eight sections you
Fold it once vertically (pull the long left side over to meet the long right side)
Fold it twice horizontally (pull the short bottom side up to meet the short top side; repeat).
In each box write one of the Eight Elements of Life listed above and then brainstorm all of the things you do each day, week, month and year that contribute to feeling good in that element. There you have it! You’ve now identified a whole range of practices, habits, and initiatives that you take to care for yourself. Hurrah! It really is that easy. Look at that list and all of the ways that you’re already caring for yourself. High fives all around. Do you see a gap where you could add some more self care practices? This is where you can do some brainstorming to see if there’s a way that you can support yourself in that area of your life so that you can feel more fulfilled and more nourished.
Want my copy of the exercise? Click the image below to download the Eight Elements of Life self care worksheet.
Now it’s your turn. In the comments below I would love to hear your thoughts on self care. What does it look like in your life? What do you struggle with? What comes easily? What have you learned over the years about your needs for your health and well-being?
You might be asking yourself, "why should I write a comment?" We’re all on our own travels in this life, but we underestimate how similar our paths and experiences are to others’ around us. By sharing our wisdom and our challenges we unknowingly hold space for others who thought they were alone and we can all rise up together.
Psst... did you miss out on Part 1 of the series? No worries, just [click here] or the button below and I'll whisk you over to it.