“I will feel successful if I have practiced self-care my own fucking way whenever I fucking want.” - Jeffri-Lynn
That was the transformational ah-ha moment I witnessed during a client’s recent in-person intensive with my mentor and all around badass coach, Pamela Slim.
One of the client’s objectives that day was to define and simplify self-care for herself. The hurdle however, was that she had already convinced herself that the daily practices of meditation, purposefully spending time outside in the sun and exercising weren’t it. In fact, she openly and repeatedly declared that she sucked at self-care.
But why tho?
From my experience, we beat ourselves up far too often about ‘not being good at self-care’ when in fact we have a stronger self-care foundation than we give ourselves credit for. The Instagram-worthy narrative that has been created around self-care is hard to achieve and it’s not very sustainable. And because the ways we are already practicing self-care don’t necessarily fit that narrative, we don’t actually realize how much we should be celebrating ourselves and our progress.
The infamous ‘they’ would have us believe that the standard of self-care is expensive spa days and exclusive retreats - and if we can’t hit that mark regularly enough, or at all, then we do in fact suck at self-care. Now don’t get me wrong, I love a good day at the spa and have attended many retreats myself (and plan to host some too) but if your bank account is set up anything like mine, these aren’t routines that I can enjoy on a daily basis.
So where does that leave me?
Where does it leave you?
Here’s the caution of buying into an unrealistic standard of self-care.
Speaking as a recovering overfunctioner and two-time burnout survivor, I too used to subscribe to thinking that if my self-care wasn’t chalked full of expensive treatments and destinations, that I simply wasn’t doing it right.
I enjoyed luxurious experiences - but I lacked daily solutions to sustain my soul. Read, I felt great in the moment, but didn’t have practical routines to help me feel less stressed and overwhelmed on a day-to-day basis.
My self-care journey didn't provide the transformational impact I needed until I first, re-defined what self-care meant and looked like for me and then began to find consistent ways to infuse and live out that definition of care in every aspect of my life, including my business.
When my son was born, to say that I was going through a major transitional time in my life is an understatement. I had just resigned from my corporate career, launched head first back into full time entrepreneurship and was an exhausted brand new mama.
Y’all, my tired was tired.
At the time, I was scheduling and enjoying 90-minute massages every three weeks like clockwork. That being said, I was having trouble understanding why I consistently still felt so overwhelmed and stressed when I was in fact practicing self-care.
During a moment where I was up for another 3am feeding, that was preceded by a 1am feeding, and a 10:30p feeding and a 9:00p feeding … (I think you get the point), that all intertwined with having a full day of client meetings, some half-assed attempts at tackling household chores, managing to fit in making eye-contact with my husband or even a brief conversation with him, all while keeping my young Cub alive, I decided I needed to take inventory of myself and my quality of life in this current season.
And this is what I noted:
I was sleep deprived (being an on-demand milk dispensary demands long hours)
I was missing deadlines at work
I wasn’t eating well or very often
Outside of walking back and forth to my son’s crib, I wasn’t exercising
I hadn’t gone on a date in weeks
And I wasn’t aware of the last time I’d actually showered (this may have had more impact on the previous bullet point than I originally realized LOL)
With all that going on, it’s no wonder that the massage that I had enjoyed a few weeks ago wasn’t making me feel better at this moment.
As I held my full, milk-comatosed son in my arms, and checked in with my exhausted self, the revelation became clear - I had to define and live out self-care on my terms.
But what in the heck did that actually mean?
The next day, while the Cub was napping, I put pen to paper and began to write. First I started with defining self-care. At the time it simply said, ‘taking care of myself.’
Next, I wrote down all the ways I knew to practice self-care: massages, bubble baths and laying out in the sun on the beach. The mere thought of being on a beach and letting the sun kiss my skin at that moment brought me pure joy.
Could joy be the key to my ah-ha about self-care?
I began to think of other things that bring me joy and my list began to grow! Reading. Painting my nails. Brunch with my girlfriends. Dates with my husband. Writing. Going on walks. Alone time. Yoga. Laughing. Affirming words. Turquoise. Flowers. Fried salmon croquettes.
As the list grew, so did my excitement.
I felt like I was on to something, and I was determined to get more of those things into my life!
I won’t go into tons of detail, but here are a few adjustments I made immediately. I made a non-negotiable commitment with myself to go on a walk and to take a shower every day. (Not sure what the big deal is with showers? Ask any new Mama, she’ll tell you.) I started posting affirmation quotes on the walls of my office. I created a girlfriends date calendar (I’m a systems girl, so of course I did) and immediately texted it to my friends to schedule dates with me.
And in time, that same post massage joy I was used to feeling every three weeks, became my new normal because I was facilitating joy in my life every single day.
Since my revelation, my definition of self-care has evolved to, ‘self-care is all of the purposeful actions I take that bring myself joy.’
It’s freeing to not be confined to a predetermined expectation of what self-care is - to know that I have permission to use my time, energy and resources to take care of myself and make myself a priority.
That’s the ultimate revelation I want for each of my clients. And that’s what I want for you too. If you’re ready to define self-care on your terms, I invite you to click HERE and join the complimentary Priority Me Self-Care Challenge.
In the meantime, take care of yourself.