The other day my mom and I had an interesting conversation about the differences in our generations, particularly how my generation prioritizes “self-care” more than hers did. It came up after I was telling her about my prenatal Chiropractor appointment. Now, I want to make it clear that my mom wasn’t calling me or our generation self -indulgent. We were merely discussing the difference in priorities – I believe my generation is more concerned about their overall mental, physical, and spiritual health, especially when it comes to preventative health. And we don’t see as much shame in seeking out support in those areas of our lives.
This simple conversation got me thinking more about the major misconception about “self-care”. The truth is, I don’t think it’s just older generations that think “self-care” is self-indulgent. I think a lot of us feel this way. But I don’t think it’s because of self-care. I believe it has to do with the way we categorize self-care activities.
So, is your self-care actually doing the good work or is it just self-indulgent?
One of the examples that my mom brought up was getting nails done or getting massages. These, to her, are considered self-care activities. I couldn’t disagree more. These are consumer self-care activities and not the root of what self-care is intended to be.
My definition of self-care is rooted in putting your mental, physical, and spiritual health as a priority. Sure, could that include getting your nails done or getting a massage? Of course, but to me, that’s a beauty routine – where self-care actually falls in here isn’t the act of getting the massage – it’s the mentality that you deeply believe you DESERVE to carve out time out of your week to do something that relaxes your body and that shuts down the inner chatter. Not only that you deserve to do this, but that you actually took the next step to say no to something else (or someone else) and said yes to doing something for yourself. That’s where the truth of self-care comes in – not in having perfectly manicured nails.
I often tell my clients that reframing their health and prioritizing preparing meals that truly nourish them is an act of self-care and love. The reason it’s an act of self-care is because it’s a small act in saying to yourself, your body, and your mind that you cherish what your body is capable of doing, that we put a lot of pressure on our bodies to continue to perform at top capacity and this is a simple way for you to say to your body:
I honor you.
I see you.
And I support you.
Self-care is actually not glamorous at all.
It’s far from self-indulgent because it’s truly all about bringing light to the shadows of yourself and acknowledging and honoring that space within ourselves. It’s about being totally and completely honest with ourselves and then acting on our needs – in spite of how others around us might feel about it.
It’s setting boundaries and protecting our inner spirit. It’s not saying yes to everything and running on empty – and then getting our nails done. If you’re exhausted and running on empty and have perfectly manicured nails – your standing nail appointment is not your self-care.
You’re shortchanging yourself.
As a recovering people pleaser, this is a tough pill to swallow. I had to do a few years of therapy to truly put this into practice. Was it expensive? Yes. Could someone perceive my therapy as self-indulgent? Sure. But it was the first step that I took to switch the way I treat myself. It was the single best investment I ever made in myself. I don’t regret a dollar I spent in those years.
True self-care is actually incredibly messy – people push back against it. The more you start to say no to things and commitments (when people are used to you saying yes all the time), it’s not just an uncomfortable adjustment for you – but everyone around you that used to benefit from your always saying yes nature.
Our health journey has to be a whole body experience, it’s not just nutrition. It’s prioritizing our health and thinking preventatively. Nutrition is one piece of the puzzle. It has to simultaneously include self-compassion, self-love, and a huge dose of boundaries.
Self-care is not bubble baths, massages, acupuncture treatments, yoga classes, and meditation retreats.
Although those modalities can be part of it. That’s not the full story.
It’s about making the choice to build a life that you don’t feel like you need to actually escape from. At this point, so many of us are so self-care deprived that we’re running on empty.
In what ways are you shortchanging your self-care?
Here are three things you can do today to start making the shift in your self-care:
- If your calendar of commitments overwhelms you, take a hard look at the calendar and take off 3 things that you actually don’t HAVE to do or NEED to do.
- If your to-do list is three miles long, ask yourself what could you take off, postpone, and hand off to someone else? Then do it.
- Do you have plans with the friend that actually drains your energy? Cancel the plan. Shift your perspective to do things that you enjoy that actually fill your cup up in your spare time. You know, doing things that actually make you feel re-energized outside of your daily obligations (like the job, taking the dog out, paying bills, etc.).
I love hearing from you all, please share with me how you’re making shifts to transform your self-care.
If you loved this post and want to learn more, please consider joining my self-paced 5-week long course, Fuel to Thrive: Transition with Ease (Fall Edition). In this course, we’re not only digging into how to transition our foods from summer to fall but overall how we’re going to harness the fall energy, which includes redefining what self-care is going to look like this fall. If you’re ready to take these concepts and put them into action with some guidance, please join us. We open up September 10th! Learn more here.