Did you know September is Self-Care Awareness Month? Awesome that there’s an entire month dedicated to the importance of taking care of ourselves. But honestly, I think it’s kind of sad that we need a national month of recognition to let everyone know, “Hey, it’s okay to prioritize your health and well-being.”
If you’re a people pleaser like us, self-care can be a hard concept because you feel like if you’re taking care of yourself, or choosing to put yourself first that means you’re taking something away from someone else - typically a person we care about deeply like our spouse, children or a business partner - and that doesn’t feel good. That doesn’t feel like “self-care” at all.
So why is it that saying no to anything that involves giving yourself time or energy feels selfish? Again it feels like guilt, not “self-care."
We’ve all heard it a million times - put on your own oxygen mask first. You cannot care for others if you’re not taking care of yourself. As women and mothers, this is such a struggle. Taking one hour to do yoga (where you stretch and practice a mind-body connection) can feel like self-indulgence rather than the self-care we need.
Also, I think the problem is with the word “self-care” itself … it’s become an overused wellness catch phrase. What does self-care even mean? To many, I think it becomes a vision of spending hours at a spa getting a facial and exotic treatments or travel to a rejuvenating place in California. But that’s simply not true.
In fact, I don’t know about you, but I don’t find a mani/pedi relaxing … I find it an imposition on my time, yet necessary for my next meeting so that I will possibly look more polished and be taken more seriously because I’m “put together.”
Yet, that’s not what we’re talking about here when it comes to self-care. We’re talking about letting go of guilt and making time for yourself, even if it’s just 10 minutes. Take time for joy. Take time for prayer and meditation. Create time for yourself. Spend your mental energy choosing to feel grateful through simple acts of saying yes to things that make you happy.
In honor of September's self-care awareness, here are five things you can do this month to remind yourself that self-care is not selfish:
Each morning, start with some positive self talk. Be still and speak positivity into existence. Say it out loud: “I am strong and healthy. I’m excited about my future. I’m able to do what I need to do today.” Whatever it is that you need to hear, declare victory over your day before it even starts.
Practice gratitude. Write down all the things that you’re thankful for. At the end of each day celebrate the good things that happened. Write them down. Don’t hold grudges. Forgive others and let go of negativity toward others.
Take a deep breath - a great app I use is simply called The Breathing App, created by renowned yogi Eddie Stern. Breathing at a slower rate of six breaths per minute (instead of our usual 15-18) helps balance our blood pressure and the innate ability of our body to enter into a near meditative state of calm.
Move your body. Even if it’s for 10 minutes a day of dancing in your living room with your kids. Movement is key to letting go of stress. The mind and body are inseparable and what you do not process (stress or emotion-wise) will manifest in your body. Stress will be released by either your letting it go and moving your body, or if it gets bad enough through painful experiences like headaches, digestion issues or anxiety/chest pains.
And lastly, just a friendly reminder that doing your best, does not mean working yourself to the point of a nervous breakdown. You need to rest. And this does not mean “fake rest” by running around your house putting away laundry, picking up and doing all the things wearing your pajamas. That is not rest. Getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night makes a world of difference. Don’t deny yourself this simple, self-care requirement.