It takes a lot for a person to seek support and, even more, to pay for it. We all do a great job of handling the issues in our lives by ourselves. Until, that is, it all gets too much and we reach crisis point; something happens that shakes us to the core and we discover that we simply can’t deal with it anymore.
I see this all the time in my practice. It is the life crises that bring people to the services that I offer.
I deal with a wide variety of issues. This week, for example, I have had discussions around anxiety, divorce, abuse, bereavement, redundancy, domestic violence, religion, exams, children, depression, financial pressures, terminal illness, internet addiction, and relationship difficulties between mother-in-laws and daughter-in-laws, husbands and wives, parents and children.
You would think there is little in common between the clients I have the privilege of working with. Well, you would be wrong. There is one issue that shows up regularly.
It is the issue of self-care.
If more of us cared for ourselves in the way that we care for others in our lives, many a mental, emotional, physical and spiritual breakdown would be avoided.
What is self-care?
Self-care is simply the active participation in maintaining and nourishing our health at all levels of our being. It means taking time out to pay attention to what is going on inside us and taking appropriate action to look after ourselves - properly. It incorporates behaviours that nurture and refresh us, replenish our personal motivation, and help us to grow as people.
It’s the equivalent of keeping our cars filled with petrol so that we are ready to drive off at any time.
I don’t often come across people who give self-care the priority it deserves.
The Myths About Self-care
Let me ask you a question. Do you buy into any of these myths about self-care?
Do you think self-care is for weak-minded cissies?
Do you think self-care is about being selfish?
Do you believe you don’t have time for self-care?
Do you believe you don’t have the money to spend on self-care?
- Do you think self-care is optional?
If you do, then I would invite you to think again.
It takes a mature, balanced person to recognise that if they want to be there for others, then they have to first look after themselves.
You can’t invest in others if you don’t invest in yourself.
If you have people relying on you, then self-care is not a selfish thing to do but a selfless thing to do. It shows that you put your loved ones first by doing all you can to be as healthy, energised and motivated as you can be.
You are no good to anyone if you have a breakdown or, worse still, drop down dead from a heart attack!
Furthermore, if you are a parent, your actions are teaching your children important life skills. It is rarely what you say that they learn from but what you do. If they see you looking after yourself, then they are more likely to do the same as adults.
If you think you do not have the time, then think about the last time you were ill. Illness has a way of forcing us to take time out of life, whether we want to or not. So why not manage your life and your time on your own terms?
And, as for not wanting to spend money on yourself, most self-care practices are free. If you do, however, find yourself thinking twice about spending money on yourself, or feeling guilty after having done so, then reflect on your sense of self-worth. What does this say about the value you place on yourself? After all, we only spend our hard-earned money on things we value.
If you want to live a happy, healthy, balanced life - one that is full of vitality, vibrancy and enthusiasm - self-care is not an option, it is a vital necessity.
Building up a repertoire of reliable self-care habits can affect the quality of your life, both now and in the future.
Here are seven things you can do:
1. Go Back to Basics
Make sure you eat healthily, stay sufficiently hydrated, get enough sleep, are active, and get outside everyday.
2. Establish a Daily Quietness Ritual
Allocate 10/20 minutes every day to be still. Reconnect with yourself. Your physical body, your emotions, and your soul are always trying to communicate important information to your conscious awareness. Slow down, cultivate the energy of quietness within, and simply listen to what is going on in your inner world. You will pick up the signs if something is not right long before things reach crisis point.
Why not create a space in which to do this? Read my blog: Where Is Your Sanctuary?.
3. Practice Active Relaxation
Relaxation is more than simply doing nothing. Active relaxation involves intentionally doing things to bring down your stress levels. Different things work for different people, but effective techniques include breathing exercises (Conquer Stress with this Simple Breathing Exercise), yoga, Pilates, tai chi, being out in nature and meditation. (Learn How to Meditate).
4. Reconnect with Something that Gives You Joy
Make time for a hobby that you love doing. If you don’t have an activity in mind, then think back to your younger life and rekindle a favourite pastime. Or, take up a brand new pursuit.
5. Invest in Yourself
A great way not only to make time for yourself, but feel good at the same time is to invest in your personal development. This can include anything that improves your awareness and identity, helps you develop talents and your potential, builds your knowledge and skills base, enhances the quality of your life, and helps you to realise your dreams and aspirations. You can learn something new at home using books or the internet, or enroll on a course at your local college.
6. Learn to be Assertive
Pay attention to your own needs and learn to communicate these needs clearly and respectfully to others. Furthermore, ensure that you have healthy boundaries in place. Identify unhealthy boundaries and work to change them. Unhealthy boundaries can include: saying ‘yes’ all the time (when you want to say ‘no’); constant people pleasing; feeling responsible for other people’s emotions and happiness; being overly concerned about other people’s opinions; and having a weak and disempowered sense of self.
7. Be Your Own Best Friend
Learn to be kind, warm and attentive towards yourself. Boot out the negative voice in your head that constantly judges you and makes harsh and unforgiving comments. Whenever you find yourself being self-critical, ask yourself if you would ever treat your best friend in that way. If not, then why do it to yourself? This issue ultimately boils down to self-respect. If you want the world to respect you, then you have to start by respecting yourself.
We rarely know what life is going to throw at us, but if we cultivate a healthy, loving, caring attitude towards ourselves, we can not only rest assured that we are doing everything within our power to stay happy, healthy and balanced, we can also nip any impending internal crisis in the bud.
As Danielle La Porte has said, “Self-care is a divine responsibility.”
If you valued this article, then be sure to join my mailing list by downloading my free e-book “Balanced Living: The 11 Simple Secrets of a Happy Healthy Life” from the home page of my website: www.harinderghatora.co.uk.