Do you ever forget to take care of yourself? I know, your diary is full, you need to juggle all your commitments and there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day. But the truth is that if you don’t take care of yourself, it will not be long until you feel exhausted, confused and unable to care about anyone or anything.
I should know. Many years ago I had a translation business, working all the hours of the day and sometimes night. I enjoyed my work, but I had no life and no time for myself. My life was filled with work and tight deadlines. I felt extremely tired and my back, shoulders and neck were constantly aching. I started to ask myself if this was what life was about.
Of course sometimes we may need to put in more hours to get a business up and running or there could be times when we need to be there for a loved one who may be unwell. However even during tough times like this, we need to take care of ourselves.
Is self-care the same as being selfish? I remember many years ago when I was giving a talk on self-care at the Cardiac Support Unit at Maidstone Hospital in Kent. I talked about how important it is to take time out and do things specifically for your own wellbeing, when a lady in the group said ‘But surely that is being selfish!’ She continued ‘you need to put other people first before thinking about yourself’.
So let’s look at this. Self-care is not about being selfish. It is about self-respect and self-love. It has nothing to do with caring less for other people. If you imagine that you are a cup (the ‘cup of self-care’) and that everyone else also are cups. Your cup needs to be filled up with self-care and self-love. You can only share this love if your own cup is full and spills over into other people’s cups. If your cup is half-empty, you have no surplus to give to others and it becomes very difficult to share.
If we find it difficult to make time for self-care then there may be an underlying lack of self-love. There may be a tendency to make decisions based on wanting approval rather than what your heart is telling you. The author, teacher and musician Jamie Catto talks about this as ‘approval addiction’. Another word for this is ‘people pleasing’.
Do you suffer from ‘approval addiction’?
Doing things you dislike
You often find yourself doing things that you dislike, so that you are part of a group and make other people happy.
Taking care of others
You spend a large amount of your time taking care of others at the expense of your own joy and wellbeing.
You seek reinforcement from others on a regular basis to feel successful and accomplished.
You often feel guilty for all sorts of things. You blame yourself and turn the anger inward.
You often hold back your own talents so that others will be successful in their life.
You are very indecisive and find it difficult to make simple decisions because you are worried about how the decision will affect others.
Not telling the truth
You often tell little lies and cover up things because you are worried how the truth will make other people feel.
You are a doormat
You allow people to walk all over you and you know it.
Not speaking up
You find it very difficult to speak up. No matter how you are feeling or what is going on – you just never give your opinion or tell anyone how you are really feeling.
So how do you get started? I have a few tips here:
- Plan in proper ‘Me-Time’ each week. Do something you really enjoy. Meet up with a friend. Have a massage. Read a book. Or just relax.
- Plan your working week. This is to avoid becoming overwhelmed. Schedule in time when you can work uninterrupted and times when you are ‘open’ to take messages etc. Plan in a proper lunch break.
- Join a group of likeminded people. This could be a reading circle, a group of friends, a walking group.
- Believe in yourself and stand up for yourself.
- Plan in some yoga or other movement time in your week. Why not join a local class?
- Meditate daily – 10-30 minutes.
- Know when it is time to just stop and rest. Learn how to pick up the signals that your body are sending you.
- Book a ‘Me Day’ once a month and stick with it. You may spend the day at home, go to a Spa or take a relaxing drive to a new place.
- Laugh! Watch a funny movie or spend time with someone that makes you laugh.