When I practice self-care, I am myself. The veil of overwhelm lifts and reveals the core of me. I am silly, playful, compassionate, curious, understanding, patient and energetic. I’m still imperfect. I still make mistakes. I still stumble and struggle. But my body and mind reconnect. We’re no longer two separate beings, both miserable and holding our breaths.
In other words, when I get enough sleep, eat nutrient-rich foods, move my body, respond to my needs, savor rest and relaxation, I feel most like myself. I feel more comfortable in my own skin. I’m more present.
Self-care is personal, and it provides different things to different people. Of course, there are general benefits, such as increased energy, calm, more water in our buckets to quench the thirst of others. But just like self-care is individual (how we view self-care and how we practice it), so are its benefits.
Today, consider writing a list of benefits that are personal to you. When you practice self-care, how do you feel? For instance, think about how you feel after engaging in a favorite activity. Write that down. Think about how you interact with others and your world after a day of honoring your needs, after just an hour of listening to your body.
Think about how you feel after a restful night of sleep, after moving your body, after making and eating a delicious dinner, after meditating, after reading on a park bench or in your backyard, after journaling, after setting a boundary. Add benefits as you think of them, on a regular basis, so your list is current and comprehensive.
When your inner critic (or some outer critic) says that you’re strapped for time or you didn’t work hard enough to deserve self-care, return to your list. Reread it. Remind yourself of the power of self-care for you.
Here are other things that made my list, as an example:
- Self-care gives me more clarity and inner peace.
- It gets me ready to tackle my to-do list.
- It makes me kinder.
- It helps me be still, instead of super antsy.
- I don’t feel like I’m at my wits’ end, and all my life consists of is work and work.
- I’m able to listen better to myself and others because the thoughts aren’t racing and roaring in my brain. They aren’t colliding into each other like bumper cars.
- I see the world differently. It’s a brighter, better place. Even more so, I see the world — instead of walking around like a zombie from task to task.
- I’m more flexible and open to opportunities and adventures.
Of course, there will be times when we’ll have to skip a yoga class, sit at our desks for way too long, blast through our tasks and skimp on sleep. But making a personal list of benefits can still serve as a reminder. (And some weeks we may need this reminder every day — which is totally OK.) It can still show us the bigger picture when all we see is the clutter in front of our face.