Today, self-care has become a buzzword, which is good, because it means it’s being talked about more and more. Which also means that many myths have evolved alongside it—myths about what self-care means and what it looks like. And when we internalize these myths as truths, we let them dictate our lives, our thoughts, feelings and behaviors. We may create certain rules for ourselves based on these myths. We may run around feeling empty and overwhelmed. We may assume self-care isn’t for us, and skip thinking about it altogether. Which is why I wanted to explore the most damaging myths about self-care, along with the facts.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Lexi Koch, a coach who helps clients learn to take compassionate care of themselves, listening to and meeting their own unique needs. Below, Lexi shared powerful responses, which help you examine your own thoughts about self-care and how you’d really like to nourish yourself.
Q: How do you define self-care?
A: I define self-care as the act of listening within and following the guidance of what our inner selves lead us toward.
Q: What are 3 to 5 of the biggest and most damaging myths (and accompanying facts) about self-care?
A: Myth #1: Self-care looks like massages, pedicures and yoga class.
Truth: Those activities may in fact look like self-care for some people but definitely not for all people. I know plenty of people who go to yoga, feel better for a moment, then leave class and sink directly back into guilt, self-doubt, shame, fear, overwhelm.
What works for one does not work for all. Generally, our guts let us know what will work and actually feel rejuvenating for us. Some days for me, it’s a quiet walk around the block. Some days it’s listening to my favorite podcast. Sometimes it’s weeding in my garden.
Myth #2: Self-care needs to be put in a certain time slot in the week and that is the only place it is available to be practiced.
Truth: Self-care can come in a busy moment at work when we remember to take a deep breath. It can come in the middle of a tough conversation when we check in [with] what we are really feeling and really needing. It can come when we’re on a run and we feel called to take a different route and we actually listen within and mix it up.
Self-care is taking five minutes in the car to recalibrate before we launch into our next task. Self-care does not need to fit into some slot on our calendar; it’s the little acts that if we integrate throughout each day, that make a huge impact on our lives.
Myth #3: Self-care needs to be elaborate, involved and fancy.
Truth: Self-care can be so crazy simple. It can be fresh air, a sip of water, using the bathroom when our body requests we do. It can be riding our bike to work instead of driving, setting an alarm on our phone to remind us to breathe or crying when we feel tears rising. None of these acts cost money are fancy or elaborate but that take care of us. That is the whole point. To take care.
Myth #4: Self-care is only something I “do” not what I “be.”
Truth: In any given moment, we have a choice whether we are in our shaming, blaming, guilt-ing, “have to” mind or whether we can live from a different place. A place that has compassion, heart, empathy and love. When we are truly experiencing self-care, we are claiming it, allowing it, giving ourselves permission to experience a moment of calm so that we can turn off the guilt and truly BE for a moment’s time. It’s not what we “do” that has us feeling cared for by ourselves instead it’s how we “be.”
Myth #5: We can just outsource for someone’s else’s definition and make ourselves fit into that box.
Truth: So often in our culture of social media, we outsource for other people’s opinions. We ask our friends, “What do you do for self-care?” or we google, Self-Care. The answer for the formula that will have you feeling cared for by yourself is within YOU. You do not need to outsource this one. You need to insource it!
Q: Where do you think these myths come from or why do we believe them to be true?
A: Our culture has been defined around masculine ways of moving through the world. Within that there is little room for listening within, following our natural cycles whether it be daily, monthly or whatever. We have followed a way that has not been true to us. Outsourcing our self-care or assuming we can just go to yoga is yet another masculine idea of achieving self-care.
Q: Anything else you’d like readers to know about self-care?
A: For generations upon generations upon generations women have been expected to just perform the tasks they were given. Caring for ourselves has long not been valued in our culture. As women, we are caretakers, peacemakers, homemakers, the bearer of so many roles and responsibilities. Until recently, it was simply a given that we can and will take on all of that and then some.
Today, woman are finally and rightly receiving closer to equal rights and with that our opportunities and responsibilities grow. Without claiming self-care, we are reaching burn-out at higher and higher levels. Women are rising and we are following the natural cycles of our beings. Our natural cycles are feminine, intuitive, gut responses, heart centered and they lead us right toward self-care. Right toward knowing how to actually care for ourselves.
As an intuitive coach, Lexi Koch empowers women to gain a profound knowing of themselves. Within the sacred space of sessions with her, clients are guided to drastically transform their overwhelm and lack of self-esteem into lasting confidence and presence replacing the often critical voice inside their heads with one of an unconditionally loving best friend. Lexi is a creative leader, a sacred space crafter, and expert at riding the waves of life with curiosity and depth. If you are ready to receive her intuitive guidance to step into an empowered and peaceful version of yourself, sign up to receive her weekly letters of vulnerability and honesty at: www.lexikoch.com/weeklymissives. Connecting with you would be her greatest honor.