September is the new January
I love September. It’s one of my favorite months. Usually in Poland we have a beautiful weather in September. It’s still warm but not so hot as during the summer, the temperature is perfect, the leaves are slowly changing colors and falling from the trees. The month starts with my birthday, then we have our wedding anniversary. And don’t even get me start about the school supplies. They are everywhere and I always give myself the pleasure of buying some new journals, pens, notebooks and pencils.
It’s also a month when I plan, create visions and in general think of what to do next with my life. I don’t like doing it in January as I feel like it’s an action month for me. By then I prefer having all my plans done. In September I allow myself to dream, think of how I’d like my life to look like during the next year, create some structure and planning with lots of free space for feminine flexibility. Women like to change their mind, and so does the Universe 🙂 We never know how the life will go. But we can manifest, create and then let go of the outcome to see what beautiful creations come our way.
While I was doing my visions, plans and so on for 2017, I was also thinking about the self-care. To have energy for all my plans, the newborn baby in the house, changes all around, I need ENERGY. Like, a lot of energy. Also, I need to replenish it on a daily basis. For that to happen, I really need to take a good care of myself. And I have to figure out what it means in my personal case. So should you, my Friend, as we are all different and we all have different needs.
So let me share what I’ve learned about this mysterious concept of self-care.
“If you take care of yourself, you can be a better person” promise
I’ve been seeing this term everywhere recently! I’m not sure if it’s just me or is it really everywhere. Everyone is talking about the self-care. Messages I’ve been seeing a lot include:
- „You should take care of yourself to be successful.”
- „Self-care is the most important thing to do.”
- „You will be a better person, wife, mother, friend, business owner if you take care of yourself.”
- „You will get more money if you take care of yourself.”
So, of course, after all these promises I wanted to give it a try! 🙂 For such a long time it was totally odd concept for me. Really. What is self-care, anyways? Should I go for a massage and check it out from my to-do list and then I’m done? Isn’t it selfish that I do stuff for myself? How much money can I spend on cosmetics and so on? When I first thought about it, my mind went into „OK, so I should eat well, drink plenty of water, do some movement, get a massage and I’m done, right?”. I’ve tried for a while but it just didn’t feel right. It felt like another task to do. And it wasn’t what I signed up for. Then: what should I do?
Body, mind & spirit
As quite self-explanatory, the term „self-care” means to take care of yourself. And for everyone it will be something different. Duh! We all have different needs and we are different people, and we are in many different moments in our lives which requires flexibility and being present with our needs every day. So, some plan created by someone else may not work for you, as it didn’t work for me. I had to create my own.
You can take many perspectives on self-care but for the purpose of this article, I’ve decided to go with a simple one: body, mind and spirit. We are complex beings and all our aspects need our attention.
Take an inventory
First, we need to take an inventory of how we’re taking care of ourselves now. We have to know what we’re dealing with and how we want to improve our life and in which department. Take all these 3 aspects of your life and take a deeper look. You can start by reflecting with these questions below.
- How do you treat your body? How do you think about it?
- Do you give it enough sleep, nutrition, water? What is enough for your body?
- Do you let yourself enjoy your body with little pleasures whatever they might be for you?
- Do you know what you like? Have you given yourself time to discover and test your favorite tastes, smells, ways of touch, what pleasures your sight, what sounds you like?
- Or do you eat whatever, drink whatever, you’re sleep deprived and you’re just pissed off your body doesn’t do what you want it to do?
- What thoughts have you been thinking all day? Positive, negative? Thoughts that support you and your dreams or maybe thoughts that bring you down and plant doubts and self-hate, self-blame and all the nasty things?
- Do you take time to wind down and relax before sleep, to calm your mind?
- How’s your practice of calming down your mind look like? Do you have one?
- Do you have a spiritual practice?
- Are you happy about how it looks like?
- Do you feel connected to something bigger than yourself (whatever your religion or spiritual beliefs are and whatever name you want to use: God, Spirit, Source, Creator, the Universe, etc.)?
What’s your ideal?
Now that you know where you are, you can create the vision of how you’d like it to be. So look at your answers and ask yourself this simple question:
How I’d like my self-care for my body, mind and spirit to look like?
When you know your vision and where you want to go, you can take action to make it happen. But it all starts with a clear picture in mind.
Problems with self-care
For me, there’s been 3 main problems with self-care.
I didn’t know what I like or how I should take care of myself. So I’ve tried many things: meditation, reading for pleasure, not for business, movement, drinking more water, going for facial, massage, buying myself new clothes, and the list goes on. I felt good in the moment, but then, still, something was missing. The „me” component. I didn’t have any routine or fixed practice. So I’ve experimented with that. Every day, I went for a walk, I meditated, I read, I ate healthy foods, drank lots of water. Still something missing. It turned out I didn’t enjoy the things I was doing. I had to discover what I like, how often, whether or not I prefer to have a schedule for it. Pretty simple, right?
Self-care seemed like being selfish. We’re raised, especially women, to take care of everybody else before taking care of ourselves. We wear it as a badge of honor. Taking care of ourselves makes us feel guilty and ashamed. And it’s just wrong, in my opinion. And really, not logical. Think about it – if you’re tired, depleted, sleep-deprived how can you serve people around you? Do you think you’re fun to be around? Do you think you spread love, happiness and good vibes? Nope. You’re not, my friend. People around you feel you’re tired and they don’t take willingly what you want to offer. Try to look at it this way: if you’re rested, taken care of and enjoy your life, you can serve better the people you love. And I know you want to 🙂 It’s pleasurable to make people around us happy.
Self-care seemed so expensive. When I thought about all the SPAs I should go to, all the sports I should train, all the healthy foods I should buy, my head exploded! It’s just so much money! But what I discovered is that it doesn’t have to be. In my case, I don’t have to buy tons of healthy foods to have my pantry stocked. I have a really tiny kitchen and I prefer to do grocery shopping twice per week, in our local shop, only the things I need. I don’t like SPAs that much and I prefer to pamper myself at home. I needed to make my self-care simple and really me. And it worked. It’s easy, it gives me joy and doesn’t take much time. Perfect!
The tea cup
For those of you still struggling with a sense of guilt, let me make it visual to explain why it’s important to take care of yourself first.
Imagine your life energy as beverage served in your favorite tea cup with a matching saucer. Get it? Perfect. When your cup is full of this delicious beverage, it overflows on the saucer. And you should share your energy to others only when it’s on the saucer. Why you ask? This way, both you and the other person are satisfied and no one’s energy is depleted. If you start sharing your energy directly from the cup, soon you’ll discover there’s nothing left and you’re completely depleted. You can’t share anymore. You’ve got yourself to the point of exhaustion that needs to be replenished and in this case you have to replenish the whole cup. If you share from the saucer, you need less replenishment. If you systematically take care of yourself and fill your cup first, then the abundance overflows and you can easily and effortlessly share your energy from your saucer with your loved ones. Win-win.
And what fills your cup? What kind of self-care actions make you feel happy, joyful and at ease with yourself? After what activities you’re eager to share your life and your energy with others? This is for you to discover 🙂
What works for me
I started thinking: what do I like to do? In my case it turned out to be pretty simple.
In the body department: I love doing my hair, I love having my body moisturized and nails done by myself. I also need a daily portion of hugs from my hubby. I don’t like going to SPA that much, maybe a massage from time to time, but it’s more for medical reasons when something in my body hurts me. I like doing home-SPA 🙂 So I invested in a great body balm, did my hair every day, did my nails and I felt pretty awesome. I still experiment with food, trying to find a perfect balance between nutrition and pleasure. I move my body when I feel like it and in a way I feel like it. I buy only the clothes I really liked and during the time I really wanted to go shopping. One condition with the whole thing: it has to give me joy.
In the mind department: I love pregnancy meditation either in the morning, or before I go to sleep, with no schedule to it. Just when I feel like it. Some days I don’t do it at all and I watch TV with my hubby which relaxes me tons. And that’s totally fine. I love journaling, writing my thoughts down in a beautiful journals and this way my mind becomes calmly empty and clear. When I need more inspiration, I love guided meditations to go deep into my creative brain parts. And it works really well for me. But it’s not every day. I love learning and reading. I keep reading books about psychology, self-help, self-development and inspirational people and I don’t see it as work. It’s just something I really enjoy doing.
In the spiritual department: I’m working on my own spiritual practice. I’m in a process of discovery. I love connecting to my soul, listening to my heart, going outside and feeling connected to Nature on a walk. Still learning and unlearning things. I’ve been raised in a Catholic home and I love all the traditions and holidays (Christmas, people!). But the traditional religion is not something that appeals to me at this point of my life and I’m looking for a more holistic path. So I read books and look for inspirations all over to discover what works for me.
It really can be easy
To make it really easy for you, here are some really simple tips of how to start taking care of yourself:
- If you’re tired – rest.
- If you’re hungry – eat.
- If you’re thirsty – drink.
- If you’re stuck – move.
- If you’re sad – get a hug.
- If you don’t want to talk – say it and get some alone time.
- If you feel lonely – get in touch with someone you like.
- If you feel overwhelmed or need help – ask for support.
You can come up with your own list of simple practices of self-care. Make it really yours. More about it below.
A tool for you
Create a no-brainer list of 10 things that make you happy and make you feel like taken-care of. Then, when you’re feeling lost, you can always come back to it and just pick one thing to make yourself feel better in a moment.
You can put it on a PostIT note or in your journal. Make it easy to find and most important: use it! 🙂