What does self-care mean to you?
Often care-givers are the WORST at caring for themselves. There seems to be a belief that martyrdom will somehow produce positive outcomes and one’s own good health will result. I must admit that I fall guilty to this reasoning at times. As a therapist I often preach self-care but I am one of the worst at actually following through with it. As I painted my fingernails today I was reminded of the importance of self-care.
Why is self-care important? Caregivers are, by virtue of their description, GIVERS. They give of themselves: their time, their energy, their resources, their joy, their strength. But where do they get those things that they give to others? If, at some point in time, they do not plug into whatever source feeds their souls they will eventually lack sufficient resources to continue giving of themselves.
This begs the question, “What constitutes self-care?” It can be different things for different people. For some it can be meditation or prayer. For others it can be a trip to the beach or the mountains. For me, self-care ranges from a massage or a mani/pedi to a good, sweaty run.
I imagine some of you reading this may wonder about the cost of self-care. I must admit that I have struggled with this as well. How can I afford to ________ (insert your preferred method of self-care here)? Self-care requires sacrifice of other resources such as time or money.
I would argue, however, that self-care doesn’t have to cost much, if anything at all. At times I am willing and/or able to afford to go to a salon and pay for someone else to give me a manicure or a pedicure. At other times, such as this morning, my manicure was self-administered with polish I already had. And sometimes my self-care is as simple, and (monetarily) free as taking a few minutes to practice deep breathing and mindfulness or putting on my running shoes and pounding the pavement.
Self-care is best exercised as a preventative measure. There is some truth to the proverb, “a stitch in time saves nine.” Taking time to manage stress on the front-end can prevent higher levels of stress and potential disastrous results on the back end. It is my desire that people will come to view therapy/counseling in the same way.
Oftentimes therapy/counseling is seen as a last resort. It is seen as a crutch for the weak, a last-ditch effort for those for whom nothing else has worked. What if we treated mental and emotional well-being in the same manner as physical health? What if we implemented regular “well-checks” and practiced good mental and emotional health habits such as self-care?
I painted my nails this morning and it felt good to treat myself during that brief period of time. I’ll have the bright pink polish on my nails for many days to come to remind me that I am worth it. My health—physical, mental, emotional, spiritual—is worth the effort and time I invested and will determine the results I get out of it. I’m also a firm believer that physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, & relational health are all intertwined but that is another subject for another blog…
How will you exercise self-care today?
If you are interested in exercising some self-care contact Denice at 404-895-1525 or Denice@WalkAndTalkAtlanta.com.