Self-Care isn’t Selfish – it’s Necessary

You’re overwhelmed with work, your family needs you, you’ve got deadlines, and there’s an ever-increasing list of things to do. You fall into bed each night exhausted only to wake in the morning with your first thought being about what you’ve got to get done today.

Imagine for a moment, waking up feeling more refreshed, more energised and instead of a get-things-done list running through your head, you take a few brief moments to revel in the beauty of your life.

If this seems like a faraway fantasy I want to invite you to grab a cuppa and join me for a moment…maybe even put your feet up.

Women are experiencing more anxiety, stress, depression, burn out and physical illness than ever before and much of it is attributed to attempting to be everything to everyone else with little attention to our own needs and desires.

Many still hold the belief that putting their needs before others (yes even their children) is a selfish act. And it’s not surprising given the way many of us have been conditioned to think that self-care is only appropriate when everyone else’s needs have been met first.

I had this same belief until I realised that living this way was self-destructive for me and my family. My relationships suffered, my child suffered and my health suffered.  

One question I always ask when speaking to a group of women is “When was the last time you did something on your own purely for your own pleasure?”

Their answers tend to be some version of “I don’t have time” or “I used to before I had children” and then there’s the realisation that they’ve not ever given themselves time to think about what they want.

They’ve spent their time and energy on everyone else and forgotten about themselves. They then connect the dots between how they feel (no energy, always tired, always busy, resentful, stressed etc), and things click into place.

When you learn to refuel yourself through love and nurturing, you have the opportunity to give with a full heart and you’ll be happier, more satisfied, more energised and everyone and everything that matters to you will benefit.

Fitting it in

Fitting self-care into your life takes practice, so be gentle when you’re starting out. By that I mean, start out slowly, just do one thing each day and remember when life happens (because it will) you get to start over the next day. You are creating a new habit, not another chore to add to your to-do list.

A great way to create time and space for self-care is to schedule it in your calendar and make it a non-negotiable commitment to show up, just like you would for a meeting with your boss, your board, or your best friend. That means that nobody gets to encroach on that time or space (real emergencies are an exception). This sends a powerful message out into the world that you matter and are worthy.

Here are 5 simple ways to help you start a daily self-care practice (and they don’t cost a cent!):

1. Make a list of things that bring you joy

Write as many things as you can think of and then put your list in a place where you see it each day. It’ll act as a reminder when you’re stuck for ideas of what to do.

2. Breathe in life

Notice how you are breathing. Is it up in your chest or down in your belly? Place your hands on your belly and breathe in deeply (so your belly expands), hold for three seconds, then exhale all the way up from your belly and out through your nose until there’s no more air left. Repeat three times. This is an instant stress reliever and can help ground you when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

3. Eat well

Our body and mind thrives when it receives nourishment. Eat slowly and enjoy meal time (it can become a ritual in itself) and feed yourself and your soul with real food.

4. Move your body

Our body is designed for movement so take any opportunity you can to get up, stretch, walk, run, dance or whatever feels good for you.

5. Ask for help

The goddess of all self-care practices is being able to ask for help. Help with the kids, help at work, help around the house or help from your partner, friends or family to hold that scared time and space to allow you to practice self-care.

Know that consistent practice creates new beliefs and that you are worthy of love, of receiving from others, of happiness and of living a life you love and fills you with joy. Above all, remember that you get to do this your way and in a way that feels right for you.

 This is a guest blog by Leanne Mulcahy, founder of Stand Out Women, Host of Stand Out Radio and an international mentor for women.