Have you ever attended a yoga class during lunch and upon your return had a co-worker say, “Must be nice, I’m too busy for yoga”?
Or after getting a massage, have you overheard a friend mutter, “That’s great, if you can afford it”?
These subtle little jabs tend to come from the martyrs of the world–the folks who don’t take care of themselves, and want you to feel guilty when you do.
You’ve probably been on the receiving end of such a remark. Perhaps you’ve even said things like this. I admit that I have! It’s true, and I’m very sorry.
I’m sorry because our words matter and how we talk about things affect how we, and the people around us, think and feel.
Self-Care is Self-Responsibility
Setting aside time for self-care may be easy for a few days… then just as you begin to feel the benefits, that creeping thought returns: What if self-care is selfish?
So you talk yourself out of your positive new habit. You think, I should get this laundry folded first, I don’t have time today, I have much more pressing stuff to do…I don’t feel so good without self-care, but I’ll be fine.
Intellectually we understand that self-care isn’t selfish but somehow we return to this idea that it’s indulgent, a luxury even.
In actuality, self-care is simply taking care of yourself. Taking responsibility for yourself.
If you regard it this way, you understand that it is the opposite of selfish. To not take care of yourself, to wear yourself out, to pretend you don’t need rest can ultimately lead to burnout/injury/illness which could heavily burden others.
Doctors, massage therapists, acupuncturists, partners–these are all wonderful supports and resources but at the end of the day they are ground control. You’re the pilot. Self-care is about taking the controls and flying the plane.
Self-Care is Foundational to a Healthy Life
In my role as a health coach the need for self-care comes up with almost every client. Regardless of age, gender, whether they’re working, retired, with or without kids, most people see self-care as vital and missing in their lives.
In my coaching, self-care is where self-awareness and self-regulation come together.
It’s regularly taking a moment to pause, check in, and ask “okay, what am I really feeling right now? And what do I need to support my health and wellbeing? What choice will the healthy future me need me to make right now?”
Self-care doesn’t have to involve spending money or multiple hours alone, but it certainly could. Self-care could be responding to an email you’ve been putting off that’s weighing on your mind. It could be paying your bills, or taking a break from the news.
And yes, it could be a glass of wine and a pedicure.
Once we expand our idea of what self-care is, we can see many opportunities to incorporate it into our lives.
Below is a Five-Minute Self-Care Exercise to explore the idea of self-care, feel what it means, and start to make it a regular practice
Five-Minute Self-Care Regroup Techniques
HALT = Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired. Four big and powerful feelings and states. On busy days you might overlook your most basic needs. Criss-crossing town to teach classes, you may miss lunch. Or you could be so focused on a deadline that you haven’t seen another human being all afternoon. HALT helps you pause and see what is really going on in the moment.
In this pause, cultivate your interoception–that sense of awareness of what is going on inside your body. The greater your ability to listen, the better you can respond and get your needs met.
To check in, first get comfy and grounded. Lie down on the ground, or sit somewhere comfortable bringing your awareness to gravity underneath you. Create a safe space by turning off the radio, silencing your phone, closing your door. Allow yourself to settle and relax for a few moments.
As you settle and tune in, ask: What can I do for myself, or my future self, in the next five minutes?
Relax the muscles in your face, allow your lips to touch and your teeth to separate and take 3 slow deep belly breaths. Repeat a simple Sankalpa to help center your wandering mind. Try the following sankalpa as you breath: Breathing in I breathe in calm, breathing out I breathe out ease.
Need a little R&R? Try these relaxing moves:
Gentle swaying inversion:
Lie on your back in constructive rest position and place a Coregeous® ball under your hips.
- Gently sway your hips from side to side for a calming rocking motion
- Then settle and find stillness and breathe as you did in step one
Iron out tension in your upper back:
You’ll need two Original or PLUS sized Yoga Tune Up therapy balls, either in or out of the snug grip tote. Lie on your back and place the therapy balls below where your t-shirt collar would be on your upper back.
- Place your hands behind your head
- Lift your hips off the floor
- Slowly push the floor forward to roll the balls down your spine to where your bra strap or heart rate monitor would go
- Reverse the motion, repeat a few times, go slow
- If resting your body-weight on the therapy balls is too intense do the same motion standing at the wall
4) Emergency (Forehead) Landing
If stuck at work and getting on the floor isn’t an option, fold your arms on your desk and rest your forehead on your arms. Gentle forehead pressure + darkness + forward fold = hacking relaxation. It worked in first grade and it still works today.
Bonus: if a coworker asks what you’re doing start a conversation on self-care and forward this article!
Rebranding “Self-Care” for Yourself
“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”
Feeling it but not digging the term self-care? That’s cool, call it something else.
Self-hygiene, soul-maintenance, alone time, me time, recharging, R&R. I had a boyfriend once that was adamant about the fact that he did NOT meditate–he “sat quietly every morning.”
The words we use matter. This is especially true when it comes to the words we use with ourselves–make your words both true and kind, and let your actions follow suit.
Shop this post: For gentle hip sway, get the Coregeous® Sponge Ball. For upper back massage try the Original Yoga Tune UP Therapy Ball, or Therapy Ball PLUS. Choose the size therapy ball based on your personal proportions.
Related Article: 5 Steps to Make Self-Care Exercise a Habit
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