Self-Care is a term that covers a multitude of sins, or rather, definitions and interpretations. Sometimes it means getting up early for that workout, and ignoring the urge to hit the snooze button. Sometimes it means staying in your pajamas all day long so you can rotate between the bed and the couch. The good news and the bad news about self-care is that there are no hard and fast rules about what it means, and no correct or even average amounts recommended because our bodies and our lives are all so beautifully unique.
We tend to crave self-care when an imbalance has become intolerable, so when we're feeling overwhelmed or simply beat, it can be really difficult to tell the difference between hedonism and holism. Most of the time, the things we reach for aren't bad things in and of themselves, but any good thing can be used to an unhealthy extreme. For instance, overeating clean food can leave you feeling just as uncomfortable in your body as overeating junk food, and exercising on a rest day can leave your body feeling tired and depleted instead of challenged and energized.
However, if we are willing to allow true self-care to guide us, those moments of struggle
can become our biggest opportunities for awareness, transformation, and healing.
Three Ways to Identify Self-Care:
1. Self-Care is less about DOING and more about NOTICING:
When we are stressed and overwhelmed, we want quick and clear instructions for relaxation or getting out of our funk. Our bodies and deep inner Selves are always giving us information about what we need and how to solve our own problems, but most of us have forgotten how to listen and how to read the signs. Learning again to notice these inner signals can be cultivated through the practice of mindfulness and learning to accept all that is happening in us - for better or worse - in each moment. In noticing what you need and why you need it, all of the action steps you need to take will arise organically within you and your own instructions will always be clear and simple.
2. Self-Care will ADDRESS instead of AVOID:
Taking care of yourself requires you to address your own needs instead of avoiding them. Avoiding or numbing ourselves with anything in the name of self-care only becomes self-indulgent and that leaves us feeling even more sick, or hollow, or just farther from where we really want to be in the end. Addressing your real needs will sometimes require that you don't give into a craving, or necessitate placing heavy boundaries around something that you really like for awhile. Inversely, addressing your real needs will sometimes require that you do or eat something that you typically cut out or heavily restrict from your life. Either way, self-care requires the kind of radical honesty that empowers you to face your challenges instead of running from them.
3. Self-Care is a NECESSITY not a REWARD:
When we talk about self-care as a prize for doing hard things, we get into the habit of feeling like we have to earn the right to give ourselves what we need. True self-care is not something you earn by surviving a difficult day; it is instead the act of processing your difficult day in a restorative way. Anything done in "binge mode" is a signal that care has become indulgent. Keep in mind that it's really healthy to set goals and to celebrate with indulgent rewards, and a holistic approach your life includes as much extravagance as it does disciplined restriction. When you are really mindful and honestly noticing what your true self is telling you that you need, you'll be able to completely enjoy the seasons of indulgence without guilt or shame.
A little about our guest blogger: Jenna Long has a private practice in Columbus providing holistic health consulting and reflexology in one-on- one and workshop settings to help clients balance,
connect, and heal in body, mind, and spirit. As an intuitive practitioner, Jenna guides your sessions with one ear towards her educational foundations and quantifiable scientific data, and one ear towards the inner knowledge that comes during your interaction. Using an intuitive holistic approach to healing allows for your inner physician to awaken and creates an environment for healing on multiple levels all at once.