So, I turned the big 4-0 this week, and while part of me was feeling pretty celebratory (hence, the big sale!), the other part of me was feeling introspective. I'm not sad about turning 40 - quite the contrary. I've reached a point in my life where I've let go a lot of my baggage (so liberating!) plus I have a circle of people who I love and who I know have my back. All this on top of a wonderful husband, three healthy children, a full-time job I enjoy, and I just started a business.
But I'm pulled in a dozen directions all the time. All three of my kids are Autistic, which means meetings, paperwork, etc to make sure they have the resources they need. Years of borderline poverty mean I work like I've got hellhounds on my trail. And I'm trying to grow a business so I have something for my kids as they grow up.
Basically, I'm burnt out and brain-fried. Clearly, I need self care, and I know it's not just me. Every woman I know is hanging on by a thread trying to keep up with home, work, family, and the endless pressure to have SOMETHING TO SHOW FOR JUST EXISTING.
What Is Self Care?
In the past few years, the idea of self care has taken off, mainly through Instagram where there are endless posts of a woman in a bubble bath with a facial mask and a glass of wine - #selfcare or advertisements on podcasts for meditation apps like Calm. And don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with these things, but can 30 minutes in a bath or 10 minutes of meditation really undo days, weeks, months of poor sleep, poor food, and endless stress, work, and worry?
And am I the only one who tries to meditate and ends up writing a grocery list in her head?
So, what is self care?
The Experts' Definition of Self-Care
The World Health Organization defines it as “the ability of individuals, families and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and to cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a healthcare provider.”
Good Housekeeping and Helen L. Coons, PhD, of the University of Colorado defines self care as "one’s action is around our physical, emotional, relational, perhaps professional, educational, and, for some people, spiritual well-being that reflects the way that we take care of ourselves on the most fundamental levels."
Psychology Today defines it as the "mindful taking of time to pay attention to you, not in a narcissistic way, but in a way that ensures that you are being cared for by you.
Okay. So, does a yoga class, meditation, or bubble bath meet these definitions? Yes and no.
The Hierarchy of Self-Care
You remember Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, right? The five tiers of human needs:
- Love and belonging
Basically, if you're sick, starving, or cold, you can't focus on creative fulfillment. I think of self-care kind of like this.
Think of it like this - if you're burnt out, sick, and running on fumes, focus on the physical needs first. Spend a week doing the first four things and see how you feel at the end of it.
- Drink water. - I basically live on Diet Coke and coffee and then wonder "Why do I always have a headache?" Hm. I wonder.
- Eat real food - How many of us play the "What am I doing to my metabolism today?" game where you either barely eat because you're busy, or you eat every carb that's not nailed down. Blood sugar crashes and spikes can leave you feeling wrung out, and adding in some protein, fruit, and vegetables can balance you out.
- Exercise - Look, I know it may be impossible to go to the gym or spend an hour working out. (It is for me. Also, I have no desire to do it.). But a 20 minute walk around the block after the kids are in bed or following a yoga workout on YouTube a few days a week can reduce anxiety, balance your mood, and boost your energy.
- GET SOME SLEEP - Okay, I know if you've got kids or work long hours, the evening is the only time you get for YOU, but if you're staying up until 12:30 and getting up at 6:00, you're doing yourself more harm than good.
- Go to the doctor. Seriously, if you're sick (and yes, depression and anxiety are illnesses) or it's been over a year since you had a checkup, make an appointment. There may be something going on.
Got that down?
Mental and Emotional Needs
This varies SO MUCH from person to person. For some people, a meditation app and a hot bath at the end of the day, a day spent reading, or a family day are all that's needed to recharge. Other people may need to consider therapy, looking for a new job, or ending a toxic relationship.
Basically, ask yourself what's the one thing you need right now to reduce your stress and enjoy life more. Work toward making the answer a reality.
Self Esteem and Self Actualization
This is about taking time to love yourself as the unique, amazing person you are. It's about putting aside baggage (you did that in mental and emotional needs) and replacing it with what brings you joy and fulfills you. Whether it's a hobby you've always wanted to try, charity or volunteer work you want to be a part of, or a different career path, self care can simply mean getting to know who you are and how you can be the best version of yourself.
Give Yourself Time
The one thing all the experts agree on is this: Self-care is NOT selfish. You're literally taking care of yourself so you can take care of everything you need to do. It's not a bad thing to take a half-day off work to go get a check-up, disappear for thirty minutes to go for a walk, or leave a job after 15 years if you hate it.
While I can't help you with big life decisions, if you do love bubble baths, and all sorts of feel-good, look-good, smell-good stuff brings you joy and helps you feel amazing, that I can help you with! Check out our Fizz & Foam Bubble Bath Powder, our Coconut & Chia Face Mask, and our Exfoliating Sugar Scrub!
Thank you so much for this. I know so many people think self-care is limited to what we can physically do on the outside of our bodies, but the inside of us, all inclusive, is probably the most important self-care of all. God bless.