(By Christa Stander)
All of us sometimes face stressful circumstances like ill health, a financial crisis, job loss, divorce, or, as is the case now, the COVID-19 pandemic. We may think that prioritizing self-care will be obvious, but it is often the first thing that gets ditched in an effort to lighten our load. There are so many reasons why we do what we do, but I’ve seen a pattern emerging that points to the uncomfortable truth about self-care. I know that it’s a bold statement but here goes: If you struggle with maintaining self-care, your problem is not that you don’t care enough about self-care but rather that you don’t care enough about self. Period.
Why is it so hard to implement?
The issue isn’t with the “care” but rather with the “self” part of self-care.
My experience is that many of us have difficulty prioritizing ourselves. We’ve been taught that putting ourselves before others is selfish or self-centered. I see it quite often in families where the mother, for instance, neglects herself to keep her job, the house, and children in good shape. Even though she believes it will serve her family, oftentimes this creates other challenges.
The truth is that self-care does not imply that you put yourself above your loved ones. It basically means that you are paying attention to your own needs so that you can better serve the people you care for. You are better able to fulfill the needs of others when you take care of yourself and are not overwhelmed.
I like to use the analogy of the oxygen mask. If you’ve flown in an airplane, you will know the safety instructions briefing before every flight. (You know, the one where no-one really pays attention). When it comes to using the oxygen mask, the basic principle is that you need to wear your own mask before you can help someone else. The reality is that if you don’t put on your own mask first, you actually become the problem. You’ve gone from being in a position of power and control to a place of disservice (or missed opportunities).
The same principle applies to self-care. If you are falling apart and are barely surviving, you cannot assist other people. Beyond assisting and helping other, you cannot even show up for your family or loved ones or yourself, as your fun and true self. You bring half of yourself to the table when your full version is much nicer, anyway!
How can I improve my self-care?
If you feel slightly unsettled or even a little offended, I honour that. I felt similarly when I first confronted this uncomfortable truth. However, you’re in the best place ever – you are aware of what you can improve on.
Self-care can be daunting and, ironically, tiring to start implementing. After all, it’s a new skill you’re learning. That’s why we’ll be looking at a few simple, yet effective ways to improve your self-care, in the upcoming weeks. We’ll share tips and tricks, scientifically-backed info-snippets, and effective and simple ways to take care of your body, soul, and spirit.
You can also join our brand new community Self-Care Group, which will be running live, once a week. Keep an eye out on the website and social media pages for the launch date!
Do you want to know more? Connect with us or drop a comment in the section below. We would love to hear from you.