You are the most important person you need to care for!
For some of you I know that this statement has already pushed your buttons – made you feel uncomfortable and even possibly a little guilty just for reading it. But it’s true – you really are the most important person you need to care about.
Self-care, as it is often referred to, is an essential part of protecting your overall wellbeing
but for many of us it is one of the hardest things to do. So to find out why this could be the case for you, why practicing self-care can make the difference between success and failure when you’re trying to resolve your issues and achieve the life and wellbeing you so desire, and some easy first steps you can take to start to gift yourself more self-care without the guilt, read on.
If you’ve ever been on a flight
you will have heard the part of the safety talk that tells you in the situation of a loss of pressure in the airplane’s cabin you should always make sure you’ve put on your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else. The idea behind this advice is simple. If you don’t sort yourself out first then you could lose consciousness and therefore be unable to help anyone else – not very useful!
The exact same philosophy applies to your health and wellbeing. If you are tired, stressed and generally unwell then how can you really help, support and care for anyone else as you would like to?
But so many of us don’t see things this way. In fact we actively work against it.
This isn’t necessarily our fault. Women especially (though of course not solely!) are naturally wired to be carers – providing the nurturing and care that keeps the species going – this self-same approach is reflected over and over again in nature – whereas conditioning in society has re enforced this message over many centuries. In essence there is nothing fundamentally wrong with wanting to care for something or someone – it’s just part of being a nice human being – but as with everything problems start when the balance is lost, as can so often happen. When this occurs the caring element becomes the focus with the person doing the caring, in whatever form that takes, completely disregarding their own wellbeing to look after that of others – even getting to the point of feeling selfish, uncomfortable and guilty if they even think about their own wellbeing in any way. Sound familiar to anyone?
And as with the example of putting on your own oxygen mask if you sacrifice your own wellbeing in the process of caring for others you simply end up in the position of not being able to help anyone, including yourself. So as before -not very useful, and definitely not a desirable situation!
So what to do?
After all the reason you may have found yourself in this situation is probably because you find it hard, feel guilty or are uncomfortable (or possibly all three!) giving yourself some much needed self-care.
Firstly awareness is key.
So simply by reading this article and hopefully understanding the argument as to why self-care, far from being a selfish act, is in fact very considerate of others, you will already start to identify where in your life self-care is lacking and feel less resistance to giving yourself more. But with a few small changes it’s possible to make a huge difference to both you and those you care for.
As always solutions need to be based on common sense, taken in small manageable steps and fit into your life if they are to be successful.
Try these quick and easy to implement actions to kick start your self-care routine.
Take time for you. This is an absolute must for good self-care. Taking time for yourself can be as simple as setting aside an hour a week for a coffee out, 15 minutes a day to read a book, have a relaxing bath or simply sitting still, to joining a club or taking up a new hobby. To re enforce the habit and to make sure it doesn’t get lost, make a date with yourself in your diary.
Learn to say no. You really can’t do everything for everyone so stop trying. Identify those things which take up significant amounts of your time but give you little joy. Again life sometimes is how it is and you can’t stop doing everything you don’t want to be doing but there will always be those extra activities where you can. If it feels scary start small – say no to just one thing then when you feel more comfortable try saying no to more.
Sort out your own health and wellbeing. Has a lack of self-care already created health and wellbeing issues? If so them it is imperative that you take the time to find resolutions for these. Self-care will only prove effective if it includes the physical you as well as the psychological aspects.
Self-care is such an overlooked element in our lives and can even be something guilt can make us actively avoid.
But only by taking as much care of ourselves as we do of others will true benefit be felt by all.
What can you do today to take better care of you?