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Redefining Self-Care: Beyond Bubble Baths and Spa Music

Self-Care is perhaps an overused term in our industry. I feel without question the message it's trying to convey is not only correct, but necessary in our modern North American way of living.

But do we really know what it is? And how it can help us?

We've inadvertingly created the stereotype around these words that conjure up images of bubble baths, spa music, journaling and "foo-foo", or the idea that self-care is expensive.

This definition from a study is straight to the point:

The ability to care for oneself through awareness, self-control, and self-reliance in order to achieve, maintain, or promote optimal health and well-being.

Nothing "foo-foo" about that is there?

Yes, bubble baths, journaling, relaxing music... these are all good things that CAN be involved in your self-care practices, but like anything in our health practices, there are SO MANY ways we can go about self-care.

Another sad reality feeding the stereotypes

I am not trying to open a can of words here, but merely pointing out something I've noticed whenever searching images, articles or info regarding SELF-CARE:

-Female images are abundant

-Spa type images and/or services are abundant

-Zen, meditation and yoga type images come up

These are all great!! BUT it's feeding the stereotypes of what SELF-CARE is and WHO it's for!

-Self-care is necessary for EVERYONE. Not just women.

-Self-care happens MORE outside a spa service/environment than in it.

-Meditation, yoga etc are not the be-all-and-end-all in self-care. They are tools and options, but they don't define self-care.

Breaking down Audre Lorde's Quote

I wrote this quote on the chalkboard in my studio space a while back for clients. I love it because it's true!

"Self-care is NOT self-indulgence" ~ This is a regular conversation with clients. Putting YOU first is NOT selfish and for long term health and longevity should NOT be ignored. Yet, we are very good at practicing putting everyone and everything else before ourselves in our modern way of living.

"... it is self-preservation" ~ Self-care and putting your health as a priority promotes longevity and quality of life. It sets up your future self for a healthier, more independant future inside and out.

Breaking down the study's definition

Awareness. Self-care means LEARNING what works and what doesn't for YOU, in YOUR lifestyle. It means actually taking time to THINK and LOOK INWARD to see how things are working for you.

We omit this part of self-care when we let everything else become priority; always being "on", working all day and spending all evening staring at a screen, ignoring and/or burying our stress, sacrificing sleep for another show on Netflix, working while on vacation... Never TAKING time to look inward and check in with ourselves.

Self-Control. If we practice the opposite of awareness, we get good at THAT. Therefore the idea of self-control continues to edge itself further away. The way we can create self-control is to better become aware of what we are / are not doing and what is / is not working.

Self-Reliance. Understanding that YOUR health can only be improved, changed or maintained by YOU. Professionals can guide and educate you and medications can help, but that does not take away the need for YOU to take action for YOUR health.

Self Care is Learning and Doing

Self care is learning what makes you feel good (inside and out). But it doesn't stop there. Once you LEARN, the act of self-care comes from DOING the things that make you feel good inside and out, and minimizing or avoiding the things that don't.

For example, if eating a particular food makes you feel "blah" afterwards and/or doesn't help you reach your current goals, it would fall into self-care by practicing minimizing when you eat that particular food so that you DON'T feel "blah". That's a form of self-care.

Another example, is that you want to binge another episode of your current show you're watching but you know that'll have you staying up an extra hour past your bedtime. Staying up that late makes you feel crappy the next morning. Instead, you choose to get to bed and leave the show until the next evening so that you can not only feel good tomorrow, but you can STILL get your show watched!! Win-Win. That's a form of self-care.

Self Care Examples

"Uh - hey Coach! What's with the coconut oil picture (right)??"

Just showing you the stereotype. I typed in self-care in our photo library provided by Wix that we use for our website and blog, and this nice picture of coconut oil is the second picture that pops up. See???? No wonder people get confused or think it's foo-foo. *insert massive eye roll here*

Self-care is SO MANY THINGS (other than rubbing coconut oil on your skin)...

-Movement / Physical Activity

-Healthy Eating Practices

-Minimizing or avoiding drugs and alcohol

-Enjoying a hobby

-Having coffee with a friend

-Meditation and/or breathing exercises

-Taking moments throughout your day to SLOW DOWN

-Setting boundaries for yourself and your health (not working after work hours, not being available 24/7 on your phone/messages...)

-Learning to say "NO"

-Taking time away from screens every day

-Learning something new

-Getting time outdoors, in nature, daily

-Getting to bed at a decent time

-Practicing quality sleep habits

-Doing what makes you feel good and minimizing what makes you feel bad

... The list is endless.

As you can see, it's not about bubble baths and friggin' coconut oil *insert another eye roll* We tend to glamorize these things or swing it in one direction, when all self-care is is a balanced approach to a healthy lifestyle that works for YOU. It's not rocket science.

Two questions arise in this case:

ARE you DOING self-care every day in some form that works for you??

If YES, are you happy with it?

-If yes again - don't overthink it. Enjoy it. And keep doing it!

If NO, begin to add ONE simple practice in each day (that YOU want to do) that allows you to focus on YOU for a period of time. Start with just 5min, and build from there.


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