Self-Care from a Place of Self-Love
As I was researching additional content for this post, I came across the article How Self-Care Became so Much Work on Harvard Business Review. Throughout reading this article I became deflated as the author portrayed self-care in today’s society as a sobering, never enough, stress-inducing topic. This was not the overall meaning behind the entire article, but it was the majority of the content, which made me worry about my own writing. Am I focusing too much on the negative and throwing in a tiny blip of positivity at the end of a post leaving the reader’s confused and disheartened?! Something I will be watching out for in the future and if you ever feel this way after reading my work, please let me know. The goal is to educate and uplift not overwhelm and discourage.
Anyhow, there is a lot of information out there about self-care. How to practice it, what it is, what it is not, and how our focus on it can add more stress to our lives, why we need it, why the idea is crap, how to fit it in, etc, etc. I used to think I knew what self-care was. I thought if I took a bath, that I was partaking in self-care. Who doesn’t like a nice warm and calming bath, right? I tried quite a few times before admitting, I don’t really like baths. I find them boring, time consuming and uncomfortable. But I forced myself to take them anyway, thinking, “Everyone says they are what I need” but they added more frustration than peace. Upon further reflection, I realized cooking and gardening were calming and relaxing for me. These were times I allowed myself time to think freely without judgement and to work through what was causing me tension, anxiety or stress.
On my mission of self-care, I tried taking more baths, coloring and more gardening and cooking. I also felt that indulging on chips, cookies and wine, when I ‘deserved it’ should make me feel good, but I didn’t really feel that nurtured and peaceful feeling I was longing for. At that time, I was still unaware of my inner critic. It sounded just like all my other voices and it had been around so long that it took me a long time to realize all the judgment, negativity and criticizing. Without having awareness of these messages, I couldn’t really practice self-care from a place of self-love. After recognizing the many critical and negative messages I was telling myself and developing a practice of self-compassion, I came to understand self-care from a place of self-love.
This includes understanding there is a difference between self-care indulgence and self-care love. Sometimes I will eat bags of chips or cookies or binge watch tv, but what I don’t feel afterward, is that I did something to love myself. I don’t feel nurtured and peaceful, which is what I’m looking for in self-care. I was simply filling a void and pushing my easy buttons. There are times when indulging can be appropriate. The important part of indulgence is allowing for time, permission and space to decompress and not beat ourselves up about partaking in the activity. However, self-care from a place of self-love replaces those activities with ones that are good for our future selves. They are actions that will to allow us to wake up tomorrow feeling better and less tense.
Below are some activities of self-care from a place of self-love. Maybe try to squeeze some in while indulging in another activity. We can practice intentional deep breathing anytime, or you can try replacing that beer or glass of wine at night with a cup of tea or water a couple days a week. We can start small and build our practices. Reflect on activities that create calmness and make you feel good in the long run and find what works for you.
Intentional deep breathing
Having a cup of tea
Going for a walk
Drinking fruit-infused water
Eating some fruit or veggie snacks
Listening to music
Watching a motivational video
Smoothie or meal prepping