I have found myself using the phrase “Self Care” frequently lately. Mostly I use it when I am writing to the administrators of the employee assistance plans I work for, asking for authorizations for sessions for new clients. I say things like “client has insufficient resources for self care” or “client’s self care is minimal”. I thought it would be a good idea to describe in more detail what that means and why it is important.
Self care sounds simple. It is the care and nurturing we give ourselves. It is one of the ways we retain our resilience in the face of stress. And yet, so many of us just don’t do much of it.
Here are some things I consider to fall in the category of self care.
- Sleep (enough of it)
- Eating real food
- Walking or other exercise
- Making music or other art
- Being silly
- Playing with your pet
- Being yourself with friends
- Going back to school
- Going to the doctor
- Saying no
This is not an exhaustive list, of course, but it gives an idea of the breadth of things that qualify.
Why don’t we do enough self care? Most of my clients say it’s because they don’t have enough time. However, upon peeling back the layers, other interesting reasons come up.
- I can’t ask for what I need
- It’s selfish
- I feel guilty
- I don’t deserve it
- I can’t leave the house, they need me
- I’ll pay for it later, there is no point
It makes me wonder why we have this idea that what we need doesn’t count. The consequences of ignoring our self care are pretty nasty, in my view. Stress eats our capacity to cope with our every day demands. We are irritable, angry, anxiety ridden, sad and much less capable of doing much to mitigate any of those things. That makes the stress worse and pretty soon we are on our way to relationship issues and other sorts of interpersonal nastiness. Ironically, trying to take care of these relationships is at the core of why we denied ourselves the self care in the first place.
My best relationship advice is always be loving to yourself. That way, you can grasp the fact you are worthy of love by others.
Go ahead, have a cup of tea just for you. I dare you. It’ll be good for you, promise.