I am assuming, because you are reading this blog, that the idea of caring for yourself has, for you, become more curious. And maybe you are asking yourself: What exactly is Selfcare? And Why would I need it?
For each of us the answer to these questions is unique to ourselves, and requires some self-reflection and awareness. To help with this, I will share with you my answers to the questions: What is Selfcare and Why do I need it?, and maybe this will help you to continue to pursue an essential life-saving process – taking care of ourselves first.
Brené Brown says in Rising Strong “The process of regaining our emotional footing in the midst of struggle is where our courage is tested and our values forged.”
At the end of 2015 my son, Liam, was killed in a single car accident, he was 19 years old. During the following year I have kept myself ‘busy’ with busyness and not really achieving anything of significance, just running through the motions of being busy and not having to stop – and think.
I have increasingly become a recluse. As a natural extrovert, who draws energy and life from my connection with others, my struggle with grief, shame and the guilt, has led me to avoiding those I have previously connected with – my friends and family. Most people don’t know what to say to me, as they can not fathom the loss of a child, so me not seeking their company has, I imagine, been a relief for them of some kind, and also for me, as I don’t have to pretend to be ‘all-right’.
My courage has been sorely tested over the last year. I have always thought of myself as strong, social, and able to cope, after all, I am a coach and mediator and deal with the unexpected a lot. Whilst I have never lost a child before, it wasn’t Liam’s death alone that triggered my self-imposed exile. The best way I can describe my experience is like a tap that is dripping into a precariously placed bucket, and with each drip the bucket gets fuller and more precarious, then the last drip, the unexpected drip is too much, and the bucket tips. All that I have coped with and managed over the last 50 years came spilling out with that one last drip, and my whole identity and being has been rocked to the core. Who am I now?
Over this last year, I have made tremendous progress in stopping the ‘dripping tap’, and the values that have emerged have been:
I am worthy of loving.
I am deserving of self-love.
I deserve to be cared for.
And that I am the only one that is responsible for all three of these.
In a nutshell, this is what I have learned:
- Selfcare is more than physical changes, there is a need to attend to, and love your whole self. All that makes you unique and alive, including making: spiritual, emotional, mental, social and lifestyle changes.
- Selfcare is MY responsibility.
- Selfcare is NON-negotiable.
- Selfcare is the small things.
- Selfcare is selfish, and that is how it should be.
- Selfcare is essential to living.
I think the realisation that Selfcare is the small things made developing a Selfcare program much simpler for me. I started by undertaking my Selfcare assessment, I noticed the moments in my days where I felt ‘better’. I didn’t go so far as to expect joy and ‘woo hoo’, I was just looking for better, more like how I wanted to feel… And then I wrote about my experience under all of the relevant headings in my assessment sheet.
I then reflected on which of the six elements of self care (physical, social, spiritual, mental, emotional and lifestyle) were a ‘bit light on’ for activities, and I then began to look for ‘stuff’ to fill these gaps. And before long I had a Selfcare plan. The Selfcare plan consists of affirmations of what I can do, clearly setting intentions and giving myself a direction.
Here is what I came up with, my personal assessment and plan, then finally, I created a checklist, or to-do list of sorts, to follow each day. The list comprises simple moments that take little time, but the act of being ‘present’ in those moments means I recognise the joy and pleasure I create, for myself and for others. By doing this I am building my awareness of my deserving love, and my value. I smile more, and feel ‘lighter’.
Selfcare is a living process that requires daily attention and amendment as my needs change. I now find the saying “You can’t pour from an empty bucket” a truism holding double meaning: through Selfcare, filling a bucket with ‘moments of coping’ is no longer necessary, instead I can fill the bucket with patience, forgiveness and love, to share with another.
I know you will enjoy your free Selfcare assessment and Selfcare plan sheets. I’d love to help you more with your Selfcare plans and actions, and I’m delighted to offer you a complimentary wholehearted coaching session, as a special offer for those who download this resource.
Take Care of You, X Linley