Self Care vs Taking Care of Yourself

Updated: Sep 21, 2020

There’s been a lot of buzz about the idea of “self care” over the past few years, which has been great for people like me who are in the business of teaching clients how to take care of themselves. More and more people are realizing how important self care is and that it is not necessarily selfish. You can’t pour from an empty cup, many of us are realizing this.

However, I’m starting to see a dark side unfold in the world of self care. I’m seeing people using the term “self care” as an excuse to carry out some unhealthy behaviors. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is a time and a place for vices and not so healthy behaviors, but let's call it what it is and not wrap it in a shiny bow to convince ourselves that its healthy.

For example, I’m a lot more likely to indulge in a sugary treat or a slice of crusty bread if I’m convinced that I deserve it, that it will make me feel good. “I haven’t had a cookie in months, this is my self care for today”. Maybe I do deserve it. Maybe it will make me feel better for a short while. But when I feel like shit shortly afterward, was it worth it? Maybe. Was I really taking good care of myself in that moment? No.

I also see people interchanging self care with alcohol and drug use. Maybe having a glass of wine IS good self care for you. It helps you relax and there have been numerous studies that show that wine can be beneficial for health. However, if one glass turns into a whole bottle and it happens every day, a good self care practice has now turned detrimental. If you ever feel like you NEED the wine every day, even if it's just one glass, maybe you could find another way to manage your stress.

So that brings me to my big question for you. Are you taking good care of yourself? Are your self care practices actually nourishing you or are they a front for unhealthy coping mechanisms?

In other words, are you being a good, nurturing mother to yourself?

Let me take a step back for a minute. I was talking to a friend recently about this idea of mothering yourself and she said that some of us may not have received good nurturing care from our own mothers. So adopting a self care routine can mean that we first need to actually learn HOW to take care of ourselves.

I’m not a mother yet, but from what I hear from parents is that every time a new child comes into your life, there is a steep learning curve. If you are a new parent, you've got a lot of figuring out to do. If you’re bringing home a second or third child, while you may have some experience from the first kid- you still need to learn what this particular baby’s needs are. Every person is different and most parents will tell you that this is noticeable from the moment of birth.

So I invite you to take the time to learn what you really need to do in order to take good care of yourself. Like a new mother or father navigating the newness of parenthood, just imagine that you are the baby but at the same time you are also the attentive parent trying to soothe yourself to sleep.

If you had someone in your life who cared for your every need, like a doting mother, what would this person make sure you would receive?

Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating your vegetables? Are you getting enough sunshine and fresh air? If you were your own perfect mother, what would you say to yourself?

My next question for you, how are you feeling in your body? Is there any part of you that is not at ease? Take a moment with this. Close your eyes, put your hand on your heart, take some breaths and really drop into your body. How are you feeling? Is there any part of your body that is not at ease?

If there is in fact a part of you that is not at ease, use this as a message from your body that things aren’t quite right. This dis-ease is your beacon drawing you into your highest self.

The steps you take toward your highest self are entirely up to you and your journey will be highly individual for you. But you don’t need to navigate it alone. As a practitioner, I can help guide you in the right direction and offer you support as you go. I want to help you learn how to nurture yourself, in fact that is exactly what I’m here to do.

So as we enter the heart of the holiday season, I hope that you take good care of yourself. If you fall off track and feel like garbage, don’t be too hard on yourself - but also heed the warning from your body. Healthy changes shouldn’t just be reserved for new year’s resolutions, you can start right now. Make sure your self care practices are actually an effort to take good care of yourself.

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