“Self care” has been a big phrase that gets tossed around across multiple industries. We actually had a class on self-care in grad school because of the high burnout rate among social workers. (It wasn’t mandatory, but I think it should be.)
Of course, self care is easy to talk about and harder to implement, for two main reasons:
- Self-care inevitably takes time, and time is something a lot of people feel they don’t have or shouldn’t take for themselves, because
- We’ve been taught to prioritize our lives in a non- self care way, stigmatizing the act of self care as a luxury or worse, selfish.
But, self care is neither luxurious nor selfish, it’s a fundamental component to our health, just like eating, breathing, and sleeping.
So, I thought I’d compile some some simple truths about self care that can help change the way we look at this important aspect of good health:
- We are entitled to take time to care for ourselves. Entitled. It’s not a privilege nor a gift, it’s a basic human need, and we are allowed to claim it. Even if it’s five minutes a day (which can be hugely beneficial, by the way), we are entitled to take and make time for our health and care.
- Self care can be easy, simple, and free. So often I hear people say “I don’t have time/money/ability to do that.” But it doesn’t have to be a $500 spa day or even a weekly mani/pedi for it to be effective. In fact some of the most effective self care is done for free in just five minutes a day, like conscious breath, or sipping tea, or calling a friend, or reading. What matters is the consistency and frequency, not the cost or length of time.
- It can be difficult to make yourself a priority, and that’s ok. If you’re not used to doing it, and you’ve bought into the matrix belief that it’s wrong or shameful in some way to prioritize yourself, making the shift in your thinking can be a challenge, and it takes time. That’s ok. Changing a belief about something is harder than changing a habit; but changing the habit will help you to shift the belief. It’s about taking the first step and following it up repeatedly over time. Soon enough, it will have shifted on its own, and you’ll be well on your way to being a priority in your own life.
The bottom line is self care can feel like scaling Mt. Everest because we make it more complicated, time-consuming, and expensive than it has to be. In reality, good self care should feel like breathing – a natural part of your daily life, however you choose to do it. When we look at it like that, it shrinks down to the size of an ant hill.
* Excerpted from What now..? by Martina E. Faulkner, LMSW – scheduled for publication in 2020