Are you tired of hearing the word self-care yet? If you are, that might be a sign that you need to up your own self-care game. Self-care has become a bit of a buzz word in the last few years, but what does it mean, anyway? There are lots of ways to define this, but a definition I like to use is: Self-care is the conscious and purposeful steps we take on a regular basis to cultivate well-being and a sense of calmness in our lives physically, mentally and spiritually. Self-care is a choice. It is something that you choose to do because it makes you feel good.
Next week, I am going to be delivering a workshop at a conference for college faculty across Ontario about what self-care is, why it is important and how people can incorporate it into their daily lives. My focus for the presentation was for faculty members and how to make it applicable to their lives, but as I started working on it, I realized that it doesn’t matter what your job is or where you work, everyone needs to invest time in themselves in order to achieve overall wellness.
I’m not going to tell you to schedule a bubble bath at least once a week or to spend more time reading your favourite book. There are lots of great resources out there to help you. I’ve included a list below in case you need ideas, but really, you do you. Instead, what I want to do is dispel some myths and misconceptions about what self-care is and what it isn’t.
Myth #1: Self-care is a “girl” thing.
This is so false. I can’t say I blame people for getting this idea, though. Just look at any magazine, product ad or an instagram post about self-care and the first image you will see will likely be of a female. Is this because women are in need of self-care more than men? Absolutely not. We all need self-care practices to show up each day as our best selves. Are women more likely to engage in self-care? I don’t think so. Think about the men in your life. Do they have activities that they do just because they enjoy it? My dad likes going to the local pub to watch soccer games every week with a few of his buddies. My husband enjoys going to car shows or playing video games once in a while. They call these activities hobbies, rather than self-care, but if you take a closer look, it seems to me that it fits the bill of self-care: These are purposeful, conscious activities that take place on a regular basis. They do them because they bring a sense of pleasure to their lives and can be employed in times of stress. Do they feel guilty about it? Nope – they recognize it as essential to their mental health. They may not call it self-care, but it looks an awful lot like self-care to me. So, no – self-care is not just for women; self-care is for everyone.
Myth #2: Self-care is a sign of weakness.
No. Just, no. Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean you are weak. It doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you because you need to take some time to regroup. In fact, being able to recognize when you need to tend to yourself is a skill that many need to work on. Many of us wait until we have hit our tipping point to engage in self-care activities. Of course, by that point it is about recuperating and not preventative. Self-care is an essential part of your overall wellness. We wouldn’t call somebody weak for going for their regular teeth cleaning or physical appointments, so self-care shouldn’t be seen as such either.
Myth #3: Self-care is about taking bubble baths and meditating.
While those are two lovely activities, self-care doesn’t need to be that complicated. Some days self-care might be scheduling regular healthcare appointments, deciding to take a lunch break at work instead of eating at your desk or saying “no” to extra commitments. Self-care looks different for everyone and may differ from day to day. The main goal of self-care is to fill up your cup with love, energy and light so that you can go into your day and be the best version of yourself.
Myth #4: Self-care is selfish.
I’m going to keep this one short, sweet and simple: there is NOTHING selfish about taking steps so that you can be the best version of yourself. Before you can help others, you have to help yourself first.
Myth #5: Self-care takes up a lot of time.
This is probably the biggest hurdle most people face when trying to incorporate self-care into their lives – they believe that they just don’t have enough time. In reality, self-care can be done in just a few brief minutes. Something like taking a few deep breaths at your desk or writing down something you’re grateful for takes less than five minutes, but can make such a difference in your day. Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, and it definitely doesn’t need to take up a lot of time in your day. If you look at the way you spend your time, you just might find little pockets of time when you can do something to nourish your soul instead of flipping through channels or checking social media for the 15th time that day.
I hope this has helped to dispel some of your previous beliefs about self-care. It doesn’t have to be complicated an dit shouldn’t take more energy to plan it than you are hoping to replenish.