Self-care is a buzz word nowadays, but perhaps misunderstood for it’s true purpose. Pampering is different from true self-care. Calling in sick to work for a “spa day” may or may not fit the bill. It is more complicated than that, and more risky than you might think. Being careless with how we attend to our self could actually cause an imbalance that may lead to do more harm than care.
The intention behind self-care is to be able to meet our regular to-do list –our daily life— with the energy, vitality, and attention it deserves. As humans we need a balance in different areas such as stillness, play, nature, nutrition, rest, work, self-connection, socializing, hygiene etc. Too much of anyone of these would most likely cause an imbalance and therefore no longer be in our best interest, but instead perhaps lead to harmful behaviors such as avoidance or numbing out. (Disconnection!)
If you are feeling drained and unable to do the things that normally come easy, there might be a lack of balance in one or more (or all) of these areas. One example—a participant in my Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course, who was a school teacher, noticed that after the six-hour silent day she went home and without thinking easily cleaned and tidied her apartment –something that had been bothering her for weeks. I suspect she needed more stillness and self-connection. Once that part of her self-care was met, cleaning her apartment was easily attended to.
One idea is to make a Nourishing List. Have fun and explore what areas you might be regularly lacking in—brainstorm on how to attend to those needs and make a list of activities that might nourish you in each area. Experiment with what brings you more energy and joy—and allow yourself to let in that energy and joy as you care for yourself.
We are a culture made up of human-doings. Our to-do lists are usually lengthy –and quite commonly never-ending! (Even and especially if the list is not down on paper.) If we could start mentally or physically putting our self at the very tippy top of this “list” I suspect that those to-dos would get attended to more thoroughly and with much more ease.