We all know how important caring for ourselves is. I don’t think I need to spell out the significance for you.
For a long time I didn’t practice any kind of intentional self care. Any time I read about it I thought of it as a pre-defined idea. I thought it meant I had to get my hair cut at a salon or get a massage. As a socially anxious person who hates small talk that sounded awful.
It’s funny to think back to but I genuinely had not yet realised that self-care is as unique as the individual. Different things nourish different people (like how social interaction fuels extroverts but can drain introverts) Self care isn’t universal.
Barriers to self-care
When I asked on my Facebook page about what held you back from caring for yourselves, I so related to each of your feelings.
The general consensus is that time and guilt are huge barriers to self-care. Others included money, energy and feeling you can’t ask for help. Read on for some perspective and hopefully helpful advice:
Imagine your child or friend telling you how they feel guilty about self care or don’t have time. What would you ask them? What would you tell them? What would you want them to know?
Be your own friend. Listen.
Self-care isn’t universal
There are a lot of preconceived ideas about what self care is and is not. But the bottom line is that self care is doing what makes you feel cared for, what nourishes YOU.
Self care doesn’t have to be big things, mean time away from our kids or cost money. That’s not to say these things are bad but that these are not necessities for all. Self-care isn’t universal! We have to find the ways we can care for ourselves that nourish us as individuals and unapologetically do them.
Self care can be working towards banishing negative self-talk.
Self care can be outsourcing. I really dislike cleaning and can afford a cleaner occasionally so I do!
Self care can be watching a show or listening to a podcast you enjoy.
Self care can be doing nourishing things with your kids.
Self care can be mindfully accepting compliments.
Self care is not limited to just what society portrays as self care.
Shame & guilt cycle
Chances are you already do things that nourish you, you just attach shame and guilt to them (due to societal expectations and/or negative self talk).
To give an example, I have a group chat with my amazing friends and we chat every day. For a while there I used to feel so guilty about this. I was not spending every moment with my kids! I was doing something for ME? I would shame myself into doing this less and carried the self-inflicted burden of feeling selfish.
Once I started practicing self-care I saw this with a new perspective. I stopped seeing it as a negative thing to judge myself for. Slowly I reframed how I viewed my time and how I treated myself. Slowly I worked past the guilt and shame cycle.
How? Well it started with imagining my children treating themselves like I was. I realised I was modelling self-care to my children! I was setting the standard for how I deserved to be treated and inadvertently teaching them how to care for themselves. It was not what I wanted.
I recognised how much the support and connection with like-minded adults means to me and helped me to be the person I want to be! I realised that I could be intentional about how I spend my time without attaching shame. The amount of time I spent chatting to my friends didn’t change but now I was free of the cycle of self-shaming and guilt!
How to make self-care work for you
It helped me to learn more about all the different types of self care and experimenting with them. There are many lists of self-care ideas on the internet and different one’s will resonate with different people.
There’s no one size fits all way to self-care unfortunately. Making self care work in your life is going to depend entirely on who you are and what makes you tick.
Are you a planner? Creating a routine may work for you. I’m not, so in general I try to keep small actionable things available to care for myself.
Some of us are nourished by sensory things, others by time alone, some by meditation, some by a combination. There are no rules with self-care.
I loved reading what you all do for self-care and think it’s SO important for us to openly and unapologetically practice self care as parents. How we feel (physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually) all has a profound impact on how we can parent. I hope this helped a bit even just to create more awareness of what’s holding you back!
Thank you for reading!