self-care: the stick i sometimes beat myself with
This morning I listened to Emma Gannon's podcast interview with Jayne Hardy, the founder of The Blurt Foundation and they talked all about the importance of self-care. I completely resonate with Jayne’s message (and much of her story about struggling with depression) but it also got me thinking about how I'm sometimes guilty of using self-care as a stick to beat myself with.
What is self-care?
Self-care is the ability to LISTEN to how we feel and then DO something about negative/low energy feelings so that we feel better. It involves checking in and connecting to how we feel on the inside - are we tired, exhausted, uninspired, overwhelmed, frustrated, anxious? What can we do about this that will elevate these feelings? What do you need? There is always something else that we could be doing and so self-care almost always involves prioritising our own needs over other stuff that we have going on in life at that moment.
Self-care, therefore, involves thinking less and feeling more. When we allow our thoughts to govern our actions, rather than heeding to what we feel and what we can do about those emotions, we often experience guilt; we feel like we are letting our clients/friends/partners down when we prioritise what we need over pleasing others/we feel guilty that we SHOULD be working, doing chores, catching up on life admin, etc.
self-care isn't selfish it's necessary
We have all heard of the phrase ‘you cannot give from an empty cup’ and there's a reason why we frequently see it on our insta feeds, it’s because it’s a message that resonates with many of us. When we relegate our own needs we become unwell (I speak from experience here having experienced burn out in my mid-twenties after adopting the belief that my energy reserves were limitless; I was young and therefore indestructible) and when we are unwell we feel disconnected from who we are and our ‘why’/life force that motivates all that we do. This means that we also have little left to give to others and we certainly cannot best serve and contribute to the world when we constantly prioritise everything and everyone else above what we need.
what self-care means to me
Self-care can mean different things to different people and for me it often entails spending some time alone (as an introvert I naturally feel more energised after carving out some ‘me time’), going for a walk in the wild (tarmac paths through cultivated parks don’t really do it for me), curling up with a good book, and dare I say it (because it's often the last thing I feel like doing when I'm low on energy)… exercise; moving my body can radically shift a lacklustre, low mood.
self-care and self-shaming
I know that all of these things will lift a crap mood or raise low energy levels but sometimes life just gets in the way, especially in recent weeks following the launch of The Resonance Collective. On mornings when I wake after a late 02:00 bedtime, when I’ve neglected the importance of a good nights sleep, I feel angry at myself from ignoring the basics - I use my awareness of the need to prioritise self-care as a stick and I beat myself with it. ‘Laura, you know you need to go to bed earlier, you never drink enough water, you haven’t practised yoga today, you’ve spent too long on tech devices so no wonder you feel exhausted and uninspired'. It’s a form of self-shaming that is prevalent in those with a conditioned mindset based on logic (and you can’t argue with logic, right?) and it sounds something like this... 'you knew what you were doing, you didn’t listen, so you kind of deserve it'.
why we should think less and feel more
Practising what we preach when it comes to self-care is a never-ending battle; one that I believe is unavoidable when living in a world outside of a yoga retreat. We live in a world where we have to balance an ever-changing set of life circumstances: work, clients, partners, friends, family, life admin, holidays. etc. and sometimes we won’t get it right, things will fall out of balance. Adopting my mantra ’think less and feel more’, I guess I should feel grateful that I am aware of how I am feeling and what I COULD (not ‘should') do to elevate a low mood rather than allow my mind to run wild turning guilt at my temporary inability to delicately balance life into another means of self-inflicted anger and blame.
Do you struggle to prioritise you self-care even when you know you ‘should’?