Self-care is all the rage right now, but what if it isn’t what you think it is?
Defined, self-care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness.
It is literally you taking care of yourself.
Holistic self-care requires two things: compassion and empowerment.
However, when most people talk about self-care, they’re talking about self-compassion. This is incredibly important, but it is only half the story.
Compassion looks like…
…slowing down and choosing to be still.
Meditation. Yoga. Not working past 6 PM. Massages and baths. Sabbath rest.
…speaking kindly to myself.
Not saying “I should have been better at this.” Not beating myself up and having compassion when I make mistakes. Choosing compassion over shame about my past and present circumstances. Not trying to compare myself to the people I see on Instagram.
…not abusing my body.
Getting enough sleep. Not working around the clock. Taking breaks when my body or mind asks me to. Getting lots of sunlight. Taking naps in my hammock. Going to the beach on vacation. Enjoying Epsom salt baths.
…connecting with my heart.
Allowing myself to feel pain and negative emotions. Validating pain and negative emotions, no matter how illogical.
On the other side of the self-care coin is empowerment. It looks like…
…taking ownership for my life, including mistakes.
…choosing to not have victim mentality.
…standing up for myself and having a voice in all situations.
…going to the doctor on a regular basis even though “I feel fine and am functioning.”
…paying the bills on time, even if that means not going out to dinner as much.
…turning off Netflix when I’m working to minimize distractions.
…working out when I really just want to eat Chipotle.
…asking for help – whether that’s with something as small as asking a Walmart employee to get something off the top shelf for me or asking my accountant friend for help with figuring out taxes.
…learning a new skill to eventually get a better job.
…doing the “adult things” like washing dishes and doing laundry, even when I don’t want to.
…finding a new and better perspective in a hard situation.
…learning how to cook healthy recipes for myself instead of microwave meals and fast food.
…setting boundaries & saying “no.”
…going to work, even when I don’t want to.
The truth is, the empowerment side of self-care can be less than fun. It can be hard. It often requires a lot more effort and energy than compassion. However, without empowerment, you fall into powerlessness, victim mentality, and learned helplessness. Instead of life happening for you, it feels like it is happening to you… and that’s no way to live.
Without compassion, you will likely live in denial or disconnected, using toxic coping mechanisms before eventually burning out. A life without compassion is not a life fully lived.
Together, compassion and empowerment can help you design and live the life you’ve always imagined.