Practicing self-care is an extremely important ritual. After-all, you can’t give what you don’t have. Good self-care habits allow us to nurture ourselves and fill ourselves up, neglecting self-care is the equivalent to trying to pour water from an empty pitcher. I’ve come to realize just how many people lack self-care practices or are confused about what self-care is, and more importantly what isn’t.
Often we think that doing things we enjoy is an act of self-care, however it all depends on the circumstances under which we do them. While we may enjoy a glass of wine, coming home from a hectic day at the office and throwing back a couple (or even one), while binge watching Game of Thrones isn’t self care.
So what is self-care, and what isn’t? Based on experience and my own journey, I can tell you that context is everything. People often tell me they take time for themselves daily, and that’s a great start. However they often confuse unhealthy habits that are part of their daily routine as acts of self-care, but more often then not, they aren’t. What do I mean? Let’s say you come home from a busy day at the work (or school, or wherever), you pour yourself a glass of wine and crash on the couch while binge watching Game of Thrones, like in the example above.
Sounds like self-care, right? After-all, you enjoy a good glass of wine, you’re making time for yourself, and you completely hooked into Game of Thrones and the drama of each house and who will take the throne this season. This is where context comes into play. When working with people and discussing healthy habits, one of the first things I always hear is they can’t give up wine, they need their glass of wine at night (or whichever alcoholic beverage they chose). It takes the “edge” off their day. When we resort to alcohol, food, drugs, sex, exercise, and such to take the edge off, or better put – to numb ourselves – these aren’t acts of self-care. The same goes with television and social media, it isn’t quality time with ourselves, its another mechanism to numb and distract ourselves from the distress in our daily lives.
Its no surprise we’re one of the most obese, addicted, in debt, and over medicated populations in history.
In his book DailyLove, Mastin Kipp writes, “every emotion, felt fully, is joy.” Seems pretty odd right? How could pain, or anger, or sadness be joy? I know, I pondered the same thing at first, but stay with me. These emotions themselves aren’t joy, these are constructs of the the ego, but the act of allowing ourselves to feel them so we can heal and come back to love, that’s joy. Don’t be so eager to take the edge off, instead live through it. Dig deep and look at what has you so worked up and stressed out in the first place. I’ll give you a hint, we’re never stressed, upset, or worried for the reason we think, but more about that in another post.
The stress that we are so quick to numb and suppress is a sign that we’ve disconnected from our purpose, that we’ve disconnected from love and spirit (call it God, the Divine, the Universe, Love… don’t stress over the semantics, we’re all talking about the same thing here). Self-care helps us reconnect and strengthen our attitudinal muscles, as Marianne Williamson puts it. But one meditation or yoga class isn’t the be all end all, self-care like everything else is a practice.
I often here people say the don’t have the time for self-care, or how much time do they need to invest in “this.” What I’ve found is that when I make time for self-care, I end up having more time during the rest of my day. A Course in Miracles teaches “the purpose of time is to enable you to learn how to use time constructively. It is thus a teaching device and a means to an end. Time will cease when it is no longer useful in facilitating learning.” Practicing self-care gives me a sense of peace, an inner calm which I then carry with me throughout my day. When we carry that forth into our day, time becomes abundant. Scarcity is a construct of our ego, time becomes sparse when we buy into the mad ideas of the ego.
Make a commitment to nurture yourself, because when you’re full you can serve in bigger ways than you ever thought possible. Slow down and be present, quite your mind and meditate. Self-care can adopt many forms, which you chose isn’t important. The importance comes in making it a daily practice.
Hoping this post has served you, and if it has I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Sending you love,