Are you a bit like me? Are you a skeptic when it comes to self-care? “Why does it really matter? It seems hyped up” or “A half-hour in a bath with a bath bomb and a smelly candle is hardly going to solve all my problems now, is it?”. Why is self-care important? In short, self-care done right builds self-worth and self-belief. And that can make you unstoppable!
For reasons I couldn’t quite fathom, the hype around self-care irked me. I’d find myself scoffing at it because a pamper session is hardly going to solve things. The way self-care is often presented puts me off altogether as I couldn’t connect with that message of ‘Just Relax!’. I couldn’t see how it would make a real difference beyond taking a bit of a break, just to then go back to being busy. It felt like a false promise to me!
Nowadays, I understand that self-care isn’t about ‘Just relaxing!’. It’s a lot more than that and the impact it can have is absolutely huge, in a very positive way! It can really change the way you see yourself, build self-esteem, self-belief and self-worth! So why is it difficult for many of us to do this for ourselves?
What is the problem with self care?
Bizarrely, for something that should be good and easy to do, the list of problems with self-care is quite long. Here are just a few of them.
Firstly, as already mentioned, it is an often misunderstood concept. It is understood to be something that is relaxing, pampering or indulging. It is about doing something for yourself, giving yourself something you want. Perhaps you see it as something costly and it only serves to highlight something lacking in your life. That would create a negative impact.
Relaxing or distracting?
While sometimes self-care can be about relaxing or indulging, this can also create problems. It can create an attitude that allows regular permission to do perhaps nothing at all. To indulge a bit too much. For example, indulging yourself to binge-watch Netflix under the motto of self-care even if it doesn’t really do anything for you. Instead, it numbs and distracts you from what is actually helpful! The same goes for perhaps eating junk food or drinking. Indulgence under the guise of self-care builds bad habits.
Self-care, especially when seen as something that is merely relaxing, can turn into something distracting or numbing when done wrong. Things like sitting down and mindlessly scrolling through your phone as a ‘rest’. Again, this would create a negative impact as the ‘self-care’ activities you choose to do which are distracting and numbing, actually stop you from being present with yourself, nevermind being present for anyone else, creating real connections.
Self-care means taking time for yourself. When you have a busy life, with commitments to work, family, friends and more, how are you supposed to fit in this self-care thing? It also feels very selfish indeed to prioritise ‘self-care’ over spending time with the family for example. When you’re always busy looking after other people, it can be really difficult to create space to do something for yourself!
What is Self-care, done right?
Self-care is doing things for yourself that serve you in some way. So it could be a pamper session, but there is a lot more to it than that! Many things could serve you well, and the self-care routine that works for you will depend on what you normally do as your day-to-day routine. If you’re mostly sedentary, a walk could be the best thing. If you’re on your feet all day, a sit down could be better for you. That means it is about finding what works best for you, to design your own self-care routine.
What are the things that you really enjoy doing? The things that energise you, that get you pumped up, smiling and happy? Particularly once you’ve completed them, more so than the prospect of starting them (I see you! With your unused gym membership!). Scrolling on your phone for 3 hours doesn’t give you this kind of energy, but a walk in nature might, or playing an instrument, or reading a good book.
It might not all feel like easy fun and frolics! Sometimes self-care requires discipline! It can feel incredibly difficult to get out and go for a walk or do exercise? Or the lure of junk-food is too strong to resist? Putting your phone away and stopping scrolling is too hard. Sometimes the things that are good for you are hard to do! That’s why, in doing them, you will start to build a different, better view of yourself. Doing the things that feel hard contribute to building your self-worth.
What is good for you?
To think about what would serve you as a self-care routine, think about these key factors that are good for you and see where you could do more.
Your body – are you moving your body frequently and in diverse ways? You’re not built to be static or sedentary so maybe moving more would help you? It could be just a walk, or more rigorous exercise. It could be dancing to spotify in the kitchen, going for a bike ride, swimming.
Perhaps if you’re always on the go, self-care is a massage, a beauty treatment, stretching, or taking a nap.
Your mind – relaxation is important and helpful when done in a way that gives you space to reflect, think about yourself and the things that are going on for you right now.
What you consume – this is about food, drink, but also media; TV, internet, music, reading. What is serving you and what isn’t? What could you change?
Connection – we are made for connection with others. Who is in your circle? Are they supporting you? Are they challenging you to be the best you can be? It’s not about having people who agree with everything you say or do, it’s about expanding your perspective through experiencing different points of view.
It’s not always about doing the easy thing, it’s about choosing the right thing that is good for you, that serves you best.
It’s the little things that make the difference
Self-care can show up in the little details of your life. It can be in the little tiny habits you have. Do you always put things away when you’re done with them? Or do you leave them lying around for a while? Do you do things as you think of them? Like text that person as you think of them, or put the rubbish out as you think of it, or do the laundry as you think of it? Or do you think you can just leave it until later? It can wait…
Doing things as you think of it, builds your own view of yourself. You’ll start to notice that you start to see yourself differently. You start to feel proud of yourself for taking action, doing the things. Then you start to know yourself as someone who CAN.
Everytime you stop short of doing something you kinda know, deep down, is right, you undermine yourself and how you see yourself. It’s the little things that matter, like putting things away properly, having a little tidy up, watering plants, cleaning, going for a walk etc. Every time you choose not to do something that would be easy and good to do, you tell yourself something about yourself; that you don’t care, that you don’t matter, that you CAN’T.
When you start to change that, it will be life-changing!
Isn’t self-care supposed to be easy?
If it was easy, you’d all be doing it already! You wouldn’t need to learn how to take care of yourself. Self-care isn’t always easy because it takes discipline. It also requires you to create new habits, which is hard. It might mean you have to change things, which can also be difficult. Breaking it down into smaller chunks makes it easier to manage!
Self-care builds self-worth
Self care done well builds trust in yourself. It builds the relationship and connection you have with yourself and as a result builds self worth, self belief and self esteem. That, in turn, builds confidence and resilience.
When you feel confident with a strong and positive self-image, you will feel empowered to take action! The more action you take, the more results you will see.
Soon you’ll find yourself in a virtuous circle of good action, good results, stronger confidence and resilience!
This is why Self-care is important and how it helps you to build self-worth!
If you’d like to discuss this in some more detail, you can book a conversation here!
You can also find more information including some helpful worksheets here!