It’s pretty amazing when you really think about it. So much of what we know we should be doing to care for ourselves to better our minds and bodies, such as adapting a change that actually makes us feel better often feels so difficult and ‘chore-like’ to do. Take for example, exercise. We all know how important it is and the many health benefits that come along….. we’ll feel better, look better, will be healthier, stronger, etc. etc. but how often and in spite of what we know is good for us and will actually make us feel good do we still dread or put off? Why do we both delay what is important for our self-care and reinforce our negative feelings that we then put on ourselves, like guilt or disappointment?
So you may be thinking that this is going in the direction of encouraging exercise and healthy eating habits (which of course, it partly is) but that’s not really the focus here. More importantly than that, is the importance of adapting and practicing a new outlook on how we approach caring for ourselves. Something that we refer to as 'Mindful Self-Care.’ This is something that includes two parts to changing our expectations, outlook and responses to ourselves. It’s essentially beginning the practice of self-awareness, self-acceptance and forgiveness. For what you ask? Well, for being human and imperfectly unique; a female who is doing and trying her best. Beginning by taking a non-judgmental approach towards our bodies and efforts helps to minimize the pressures and negative feelings that we unfairly place on ourselves. If at this present moment, you are not at your ideal weight, or allowed yourself too many chocolate chip cookies or missed a workout that you intended to do, accept that this is or was you in this exact moment and that with a new day and new behaviors, habits, attitude and outlook, anything for you in your life can change. We so often get so hard on ourselves, but by trying to take on a more mindful and loving view of our imperfections as well as a less judgmental response to who we are and are not, simply supports that we are ever changing and growing.
Self-care, or the healthy and positive time and effort that we give to ourselves is the second part of this topic; the importance of recognizing self-worth and reconnecting with simply ourselves as well as the need to care for ourselves in a loving, nurturing and compassionate way. So many of us are in a constant life speed of working, rushing, running, juggling, and multi-tasking and the time that remains for us to focus on just us, frequently gets pushed aside. Sure, we may go for a mani-pedi or to the mall but the actual act of carving out time, even just 30 minutes a week, to step aside from our busy lives to slow down and relax is so hard to do. Whether it’s through appreciating nature or our favorite music or breathing with a warm scented candle and some tea, the act of being with and by ourselves and no one else is equally essential, difficult and stressful. We seem to have placed such high pressures on the need to do that the need to stop becomes so challenging.
The other day I was sitting in a coffee shop and talking with a dear friend about how helpful yoga and meditation have been for us and how they are so effective at helping us to slow down our minds and worries and be just with ourselves. While we fully agreed at how amazing it makes us feel when we set that time aside and are actually practicing, we still find ourselves easily getting caught up in that procrastination-mode thought of “I’ll get to it soon.” The practice of self-care in ways that is solely individualized for our self is exactly that. It’s a practice that is not easy and which requires actual practice and commitment, much like learning a sport or a new hobby. It’s not easy but taking the steps to begin or continue the journey of reconnecting our mind and body and returning to loving our self truly brings a renewed sense of love and balance into our busy lives.