“Self –care is not about self-indulgence. It’s about self-preservation.”
Eight years ago I was introduced to the concept of “self-care” —the essential teaching of the importance of putting your oxygen mask on first, before helping others— by life coach Cheryl Richardson.
I was resistant to the self-care message at first, thinking— this sounds like one more thing I don’t have time for and certainly don’t want to add to my “to do” list—but after reluctantly agreeing to Richardson’s Life Makeovers experiment of trying “self care” for one year, the changes in my life, psyche, career and relationships were so profound, I was thoroughly convinced of the value of this concept. And, ultimately, my life was forever changed.
Now, eight years, one child and two businesses later, after having made physical/emotional/mental and spiritual self-care part of my everyday life, I can still say I have a long way to go. (This is a hard concept to embrace.) However, the gratitude I feel for this gentle, daily, reminder to take time to fill my cup first, is powerful and ever-present.
If you’re having some resistance to this message—maybe it sounds selfish or maybe you don’t see the value in why this is important (read Why Self Care?)—consider the following observations on how a self-care mindset affected my daily life over the course of just one week. Gifts I received from my self-care practice this past week, included:
• The knowingness of how important it is to feel my feelings and not run from them. When I take time to fully experience what I’m feeling in the moment—particularly if the feelings are uncomfortable—I’m able to let them move through me and not take me hostage.
• The awareness of the speed at which I am living and working. Knowing when it’s time to speed up (rare!) and when it’s time to slow down (often!) and listening to my body’s natural rhythms, helps me be more effective and efficient, particularly at work.
• Realizing that rest and relaxation are integral to my physical and emotional well-being. It’s not about slacking, it’s about being gentle with yourself (would you ever push your exhausted child to keep going?!).
• Being conscious about who I surround myself with (professionally and personally), how relationships affect me and how I feel after spending time with friends, clients and family members. As we change, so do our relationships.
• Becoming vigilant about how I use my time: getting comfortable saying “no,” and thoughtfully planning my days/weekends so that they fuel me and don’t drain me. (Read the chapter on Managing Your Energy and Saying No from the Guide.)
• Knowing that when I feel overwhelmed, I can hit the pause button and step back to re-assess and change course—at any time!
• Being compassionate with myself, knowing when “good is good enough” and letting things go, rather than ruminating about how a conversation, presentation or encounter might have been done differently.
• Permission to take time to ask “what do I really need?” Maybe it’s support or mentoring, maybe it’s downtime, maybe it’s faith and trusting in Divine timing or maybe it’s going for a walk around the lake or canceling a social outing so I can spend time alone journaling.
• The reminder to breathe and embrace the present moment—where the greatest levels of peace and well-being reside, always.
No matter what your age, gender or life stage, self-care is essential to overall well-being. You can review the four areas of self-care listed in The Transformative Power of Self-Care and reflect on which area is calling to you. Then decide to make that area your focus for the month. I challenge you!
Renée Peterson Trudeau is a nationally-recognized life balance expert/coach. Trudeau’s work has been featured in US News and World Report, Working Mother, American Way, Family Circle, Good Housekeeping and numerous business publications and consumer media. Trudeau is the author of the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life. Thousands of women around the U.S./Canada are starting and joining Personal Renewal Groups based on the Guide, as a way to enhance balance and well-being in their lives. Learn about her next free Live Inside Out teleclass or her upcoming self-renewal retreats at www.ReneeTrudeau.com/calendar.