What do YOU do to take care of yourself?
The fast, hectic pace of modern life doesn’t encourage very much self-care. Somehow, there’s always the sense that we could have, should have accomplished more.
Workouts are one generally well-accepted form of self-care. But even there, people often orient towards achievement more than self-nurture. There can be a sense of defeat or self-beratement if they didn’t perform in the workout quite the way they’d hoped to, or lose all the weight they’d wanted to.
Sometimes, what feels like “self-care” is really “let’s just shut off the overwhelm for a little while.” In other words, a self-numbing strategy. Examples include shutting off the stress with a drink (or three); overeating; watching TV; procrastination; etc. Of course, doing any of these things isn’t necessarily bad, nor bad for you. Like anything, it’s how you do it.
In my opinion, self-care is any non-toxic, non-harmful, legal activity that provides respite, enrichment, growth, healing, and/or fun.
I know there are a million articles and blogs out there about the importance of self-care. But I suspect that it’s something many of us know intellectually, but perhaps not fully. Not deep in our guts. Or in somatic terms, we’re not embodying the intellectual knowledge. We could talk about it and all the reasons why it’s important, but somehow self-care is always the first thing to go when life gets hectic.
Why do I say this? Because in my experience, it’s really difficult to get people to take care of themselves! As a therapist, I have suggested all sorts of “homework”, new habits, follow-up, etc. By far the number one “not completed” suggestion is any that involves extra self-care.
I will say that there are two reasons why self-care is so important. On a purely pragmatic level, it makes people more efficient. Dreams, aspirations, goals, and even daily to-do lists are much more easily achieved when one is in top form. Stephen R. Covey, the famous author of “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” elaborates this concept beautifully.
The second reason involves perhaps a larger perspective:
You have to be important in your own life.
Among all the goals, tasks, to do lists and etc., is there time for you?
Somatic therapy involves being present in the moment, befriending one’s body, emotions, and sensations. It involves a shift: become a human being, not a human doing.
It’s been my experience that making this shift is an integral part of self-regulation, that is, reducing/managing anxiety and depression. Also, it makes life’s experiences much richer and more enjoyable. Please note that this is not simply a recommendation for hedonism: A well-balanced and regulated nervous system allows more life energy to naturally flow towards life’s work. Not incidentally, such an orientation towards life is a wonderful thing to pass on to one’s children.
So, instead of saying, “I’d love to….but I can’t….I don’t have time….” perhaps we could try saying, “How could I make this work?”