What is Self Care by Andrea White
Every year I run a Self- Care Advent on social media (started in 2016, pregnant and feeling rubbish) It bit of fun but also a reminder to look after myself and others to do the same. I love doing it in December as it is such a busy time of year, when we seem to focus on others more than ourselves and outside influences.
But I feel the words ‘Self Care’ have been watered down to be anything you want it to be, while this has truth and self care is personal and subjective we can’t just stick the words ‘self care’ on everything to other comfort ourselves or to sell an idea, or worse cover up the real problems in our lives, the world and environment. I really love questioning my own actions in the name of self care.
What actually is Self-Care?
SC (self care) is a deliberate or planned act or activity in order to take care of our physical, emotional, spiritual, mental, and social wellbeing.
It is something that brings us back into balance, awareness of how we really are, it can raise self-love and contentment, it can be something that makes you smile, it can be relaxing or rejuvenating. Something that invites joy, but sometimes allows sadness and release, even anger..(yes self care can be ugly).Some things we might even resist doing as they push our comfort zone or make us challenge ourselves. It is anything that will benefit our body, mind and spirit by putting yourself first and in turn how you show up in the world.
What self care is not
But what it is not is self indulgent, ego driven, fuelling bad habits or addictions. It shouldn’t be used as a distraction or an excuse to be narcissistic or hedonistic, it also should not add to continuous depletion or others peoples suffering.
The main thing is to see 'the bigger picture,'
See how we can be the best versions of ourselves at any given moment. This should be the motivation of why you are doing something.
Before you stick the self care label on something ask your self-
‘Is this a deliberate or planned act?’
‘how will this improve my wellbeing either just today or in the long run?’ and lastly
‘what is my motivation ?’
The details and what makes something ‘Self Care’ is always your awareness of what you are doing, your motivation and not hiding behind BS!.
We are layered!
There are so many layers and types of doing something for yourself; many acts can seem very different things from the outside.. But all can come under the umbrella of self care.
These are my personal experiences, experimentation and opinion and no way conclusive list. I find categorising things helps me navigate this topic but that doesn't mean things are better or more important than the other, just layers that we need at different levels of our being.
AKA the everyday things we should be doing - eat well, drink water, go to doctors, dentist, pay your bills, keep out of debt, get enough sleep, move your body. It can be boring and mundane but a clean house can go a long way for a calm mind. If these are not in place the other things can just be covering over bigger issues of health.
Comfort or Maintenance Care
This be the nice fuzzy fluff stuff we all like to do, bubble baths, pedicures, nice food, lunches out, or naps.. But also a once a month yoga class, a relaxing massage a gentle walk around the block, watching your favourite movie or a spot of gardening. As a busy mum of toddler a quiet coffee on my own reading a book is pure healing balm for a tired body and mind. A lot of what you see, sold and told is this stuff.. It is amazing and the little things everyday add up to keep us sane. This is the 1% of self care.. mini tasks that make our lives better.
It can’t stop here though.
Deep down I still know it won’t heal the root of the problem but is nice and keeps me going while I solve the bigger picture.. To answer the bigger problems and discomforts we have to do it in conjunction with a deeper awareness or it will just stay a meer comfort or a band-aid for a broken leg!
‘Self’ Care- the deeper stuff-
This is anything you do that get to the core of your ‘Self’. These can be physical, Emotional, Mental or Spiritual. To get to know the self more, listening with deep awareness of what the body, mind, spirit really needs. It maybe a deeper Yoga or energy work practice, Meditation, Cycle awareness, Mindfulness relaxation, deep connections with friends and family, nature. Also might be time alone or nurturing creativity or journalling.
Only through my practices of listening and connecting I have a deeper awareness and understanding of what I truly need every day. I listen carefully to what my body, soul and mind are needing and adjust my self care practice rather than randomly chucking ‘self care’ at a problem.
Core Self Care Practices
Another layer I have discovered is linked to the understanding of the ‘self’ but I feel becomes core self care practices on their own. Once you start, they have a life of their own.. Creating ripple waves and positive feedback throughout your life. These are-
Radical Self Care
lastly I believe there is another layer of Self Care . It is a political and radical act.. in the face of all our pressures, it is standing up and saying NO.. it is also looking deeper to the problems in our life, community and world and not putting up with them.. Striving for a world where we don't need so much Self care. (more about this another day)
For me I focus on doing the little things of survival, comfort and maintenance, to get me through this mothering journey. I dance, move, play, relish alone time, draw, doodle, take time to really enjoy a shower! I walk to the shops instead of getting into the car; I practice menstrual cycle awareness, yoga, meditation. But every time my motivation is always to keep the “self’ connected, listening, bringing gratitude, awareness, acceptance and seeing the bigger picture of why this is all so important...to be real, accepting and loving towards myself.
(this Article was edited from Dec 2019)