Self-care is often a buzz word. It’s talked about a lot, but there isn’t always a consistent meaning that people land on. Self-care means different things to people. It is much broader than most people think. It’s not only about eating nutritious food, exercise, taking bubble baths or binging on Netflix.
We all practice self-care every day. Self-care is simply caring for yourselves. So, every time you brush your teeth, drink a glass of water or take a shower, you are practicing self-care. The self-care we do in everyday life needs to be recognized. Too often as women, we shame ourselves because we’re not doing enough. But shaming is the opposite of caring for ourselves.
We can find self-care in our daily lives, but we have to look for it. I was visiting with a friend recently who was talking about her week and that she had been too busy to do self-care. And as many of us, she was mildly shaming herself for not doing enough. But when she told me what she had done that week, I saw many examples of self-care.
My friend owns a pet sitting business. That week, she had a big job caring for several horses and other animals, as well as watering and caring for her customs garden while they were on vacation. Because it was such a big job, her husband came along to help.
The job, even though big, was fun. My friend loves animals, and she enjoyed being with these animals, especially the horses. Sharing the job with her husband was also good. She talked about how fun it was to be outside even though the temperature was in the 100s some days.
When she finished sharing, I said, “Wait a minute, what do you mean you didn’t do any self-care this week?”. I pointed out that being with the animals and being outside was emotionally gratifying for her. That is emotional self-care. That being with her husband and having fun working together was social or relational self-care. And it was her job, so that’s financial self-care.
My friend looked surprised and said, “Yes, when you look at it that way, I guess I did a lot of self-care this week.” She no longer needed to shame herself for not doing enough.
What I tried to do for my friend was change her perspective on what self-care actually is. And to look at what she did rather than what she didn’t do.
Self-care takes many forms: physical, emotional, social, professional, financial, spiritual, environmental, and intellectual. When you’re tempted to shame yourself for not doing enough, look at what you are doing instead. Making this shift in our perspective can help us see we are practicing self-care. But, more importantly, it can move us from self-shame to self-love.