Self-Care. It’s not what you think it is.

Self-care is more than just bubble baths and walks in the forest. Discover the 7 key areas you need to focus on to make the most of your self care time.

Self care is a big buzzword these days. Got a problem in life? Self-care is the solution!

You know what I’m talking about.

When you find yourself in any kind of stressful circumstance, every well-meaning friend or family member is going to say something like ‘make sure you are taking care of yourself right now.’

But what we usually don’t talk about is if the self-care you are doing is actually helping.

What is Self-Care

Loosely defined, self-care is the things you do every day to take care of yourself. It’s intentional activity that you do for yourself.  It is not looking after your family, looking after your work, or anything else. It’s also not the stuff you do on auto-pilot every day.  Self-care is about the intentional and loving care of your being.

People tend to think of self-care as the extras you do for yourself, like taking a bubble bath, having a massage, or getting a pedicure. It’s also about the everyday things you do for yourself – eating healthy food, exercising, sleeping, keeping your environment clean, etc.

Oftentimes, women aren’t great at self-care. Generally speaking, women have grown up learning to look after the needs of others, and that means we often find ourselves last on our to-do list.

This is why everyone tells you to take care of yourself when the s&it hits the fan. Odds are, you’re going to be so busy taking care of everyone else in the midst of the challenge that you forget about yourself.

When you hear that reminder to take care of yourself, it’s often those extras that get the focus.  Pouring yourself a glass of wine and taking a long hot bath, for example.

But that usually doesn’t cut it.

What if Enough Self-Care isn’t The Right Self-Care

It’s easy to focus on the feel-good easy to do elements of self care. Taking some time to read a good book,  having a nap, or listening to music are all easy feel-good activities.  They are the kinds of activities that most women list when they talk about what they are doing for self care.

The last time I found myself in a particularly stressful period, so many people reminded me of the importance of taking care of myself.  I’d respond a little defensively, saying that I was taking care of myself.  I could list off all of these kinds of things I was doing for myself.  But it all felt a little flat.  Like it wasn’t enough.  After all, if I was really taking care of myself, would I feel this level of stress and exhaustion?  All the time?

There was a niggling little voice inside of me. At first, I dismissed it as my self-critic telling me I wasn’t doing *this* right either and turned it around to remind myself of all the great things I was doing.  That voice got louder though, and so I started to pay attention.

That’s when I really started digging into it.  What if, even though I was doing self-care activities every day, it wasn’t the right kind of self-care?

What is the Right Self Care?

I discovered that self-care can mean so many different things.  It’s not just about how you take care of yourself emotionally, but also about how you look after yourself mentally, spiritually and physically too.  It’s not just about how you take care of yourself on the inside, but also about how you look after yourself on the outside and your environment too.

I started looking at self-care in a completely different way.  I could see how there was a whole host of activities that I was either not doing or doing resentfully (you mean I have to cook healthy food AND do the dishes too?). In some cases, they were activities that had been a part of my regular day before the challenge cropped up in my life, but I’d somehow abandoned them. In other cases, I discovered aspects of self-care that I’d been avoiding my whole life.

As I looked at self-care, I realized that there are 7 key areas to focus on, and those feel-good bits are just one of them:

  • mental
  • emotional
  • spiritual
  • physical
  • social
  • structures
  • environment

In looking at my self-care from this perspective, I could see how although I was doing *enough* self care, I wasn’t doing *the right* self care.  I was neglecting entire aspects of how I was looking after myself.

If you find yourself hearing from others about doing more self-care or if you also have that niggling little voice inside, consider whether or not you’re doing *the right* self-care too.  What aspects might you be neglecting or not doing enough of? What can you bring more of into your life to help balance your self-care too?

Follow Rachel Bolton:

Rachel is a coach supporting women to rediscover who they are beyond the *shoulds* of life. To create and live life on purpose.

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