The Courage to Engage in Self-Care

“Learning to love + nourish your body = loving + nourishing yourself.

A commitment to yourself keeps you going when you feel like giving up, keeps you strong when you feel weak, and keeps your faith when you can’t remember why you decided to live bright in the first place.”   -- Otiti Jasmine

Before we talk about engaging in self-care, let’s first get clear on its meaning.

In her book Madly in Love with ME, Christine Arylo says self-care is “Choosing to make sure that you get what you need on all levels – physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally – every day.”

Self-care isn’t just having regular spa days and drinking lots of water. It’s not just working out every day or doing tons of yoga. It’s also having firm boundaries in your relationships, having a daily mindfulness practice, eating the right foods for your body, and feeding your spirit so you bloom like a beautiful garden. Self-care is having a robust toolkit that keeps you joyful, loving, & doing your best work as often as possible. Yummy, right?

If self-care’s so good, why does it take courage to do it? Because what’s best for you isn’t always what’s best for other people, and you’ll get some pushback when you put your needs first.

While it may seem selfish to put your needs first, you can’t show up fully for the people in your life if you neglect your self-care. If you’re living on caffeine and fast food, running yourself ragged with too little sleep just so you can devote as much time as possible to your job or project, you’re not going to be giving your best in either situation. You’ll be tired, cranky, and malnourished, and you might wear yourself down to the bone before your body riots and forces you to slow down to take some time for yourself.

The courage to engage in self-care is pre-empting breakdowns, raging fits, and malaise by nourishing yourself properly every single day. Much like an empty tank can’t run on fumes, you can’t scrape bottom and expect to have anything good to give. You need to fill your well to overflowing so you can give from the overflow and feel good about it.

If you find yourself resenting something or someone for the time and energy you’re investing, chances are you’re depleting yourself and diverting precious energy outside yourself. You can’t say yes to everything, and you shouldn’t try to fit it all in no matter what it takes. Be selective about the projects and relationships you commit to, and don’t stretch yourself so thin that you deplete your reserves.

When you engage in self-care, you’re aware of what you need and what it’ll cost you to give to your business and relationships. This awareness lets you monitor yourself so you don’t wait until your well runs dry and your reserves are dangerously low before you replenish yourself. A daily appraisal helps you determine how you really feel and what you can do without depleting yourself or slipping into resentment. There was a time in my life where I was constantly spinning in and out of co-dependency, over-giving, over-sharing, over-teaching and under-earning.  I wore my superwoman cape with pride to the public; however on the inside I was in total overwhelm.  The stress took it's toll in the form of gaining 150 lbs. in excess body weight, constant fatigue and a rage that threatened daily to rise to the surface.

Like I said before, you’ll get some pushback when you put your needs first. Learning how to set healthy boundaries will be challenging. Especially if people benefit from you spinning in and out of addiction, co-dependency, rage, etc. Your family and friends may call you selfish and uncaring, but if the alternative is wearing yourself out catering to their needs, you might want to find some middle ground and avoid the hassle of being unable to give your best because you’re too tired to think straight. Don’t be cruel or inconsiderate, but do be firm about your boundaries once you’ve determined what does and doesn’t nourish and energize you. Protecting your well-being is your responsibility and nobody’s coming to do it for you, so straighten your crown and act like the Queen you are.

When you take the time to fill your well before you give anything to anybody, you teach other people how to treat you because you’re very clear on what you will and will not tolerate. This is actually an empowering thing to do because while you’re holding firm to your standards, you’re modeling a gorgeous way of being for the women in your life. Daily robust self-care gives a certain glow, and everybody’s attracted to a woman glowing in the light of her beauty and strength.

As you can imagine, self-care is great for business because it clears your mind, lights your fire, and makes you eager to do your best work. You’re excited about what you do and why you do it, you take better decisions, and you attract your dream clients because you radiate something they want. Self-care brings clarity and joy because figuring out what you need as nutrients and making them non-negotiable amps up your mood, creativity, and business savvy. You can’t innovate with a cluttered mind, heavy heart, and tired soul, so self-care is a great way to stay on top of your business and do what you need to do to be truly fulfilled.

Self-care is deeply personal, so it’s up to you to try out different practices and settle on the ones that make you feel like your brightest, boldest self. What’s heaven for me may be hell for you, so keep exploring until you feel that inner ‘click’ that tells you you’re on to something good. Meeting your needs buoys you up and makes you generous, which is why it’s worth it to make self-care a daily practice.

Daily self-care takes dedication and focus, so it’s very important to know why you’re doing what you’re doing. If you know that meditating every morning keeps you from snapping at your kids, you’re more likely to hold on to the habit even when it gets hard and you feel like giving it up. If you know that yoga keeps you bubbly and helps you sleep better at night, you’ll make time for it even on the days you feel rushed, lazy, or just not in the mood. You can write down your ‘Why’ for each practice and reread it often to remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. It’s very important to know your deeper why so you don’t let your self-care slide just because you don’t feel like it.

How can you rearrange your life to make time and space for daily self-care?