Self-care is a phrase that gets thrown around a lot in the coaching world. It sounds simple, after all, like a reminder to take a bubble bath or get a massage.
As difficult as it can be to try to squeeze in time to pamper the physical body, that is actually the easiest part.
The real difficulty lies in how you talk to yourself. What are you like when you don’t like yourself? When you wish things were different? When you wish you were different?
Is there a drill sergeant living in your head who always, always pushes you get it done faster, better?
Is there a perfect woman living there who never gets it wrong, who always has a way to out-shine whatever amazing feat you just pulled off?
Self-care can be a composite of inner child work, unraveling defense mechanisms, and changing belief structures. It’s a lot, a tangled web that reflects all of the ways we limit our higher selves.
Except, your higher self can’t really be limited. She shines as bright as ever. The real work lies in removing what obscures her from your vision. She’s always there, waiting for you, calling you home to yourself.
So, when you’re feeling anxious, stressed, exhausted, what does self-care actually look like?
First, breathe. Just breathe. When we’re in stress, our breathing is often high and shallow, which signals the body that it’s not safe.
Place your hand on your belly and breathe as deeply as you can, letting your tummy gently inflate like a little balloon. Then, as you exhale slowly, let that balloon softly empty out.
Try 3 of these deep breaths and notice what’s shifted in your body.
Then, place your hand over your heart and ask yourself: What do I need right here, right now?
Then, listen and watch without judgement. Something will arise. A picture of a tree that maybe signals you to go for a walk. An urge to get out a sketchpad or coloring book. An itch to grab your pen and journal. A pulling to your pillow for a nap.
You also could uncover a yearning for something to be ok. Maybe what you really need is to tell yourself that what you’re feeling is perfect for you in this moment. Let how you are be ok, no matter what.
If you can’t take the action you’re drawn to right this red-hot moment, that’s ok too. Witnessing it is the first step. Don’t judge it. Then, do your best to follow through when time permits. Regardless, right now, you can treat yourself with compassion and respect.
We very often confuse accepting with condoning, as if we accept how we feel, we’re just going to get more of it. It’s actually resistance and the tension it engenders that prolongs the experience. When we accept how we feel and how things are right now, we eliminate that resistance and we free our creative minds and hearts to align us to the path that’s correct for us.
You’ll get there. You can’t help but get there. What is meant for you will find you, always. Your part is to do your best to love yourself along the way.