The very notion of calling it “self care” is asking for trouble. Don’t you agree? It’s like putting a giant flashing light on it that says OPTIONAL. Why do we call it self care? Is brushing your teeth self care? Of course, it’s taking care of yourself. But, would you skip it? No, you would not. And when I start talking about self care, you’re not expecting me to include brushing your teeth.
Maybe we should stop calling it self care. What do you think?
Origins of Self Care
In health care, self-care is any necessary human regulatory function which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated. Patients with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes or asthma, manage many aspects of their illness on a daily basis. Patients will diabetes monitor their blood sugar levels and administer insulin accordingly. Patients with asthma self-administer inhaled medications. And patients with serious injuries may perform their own wound care. As global health care costs rise, we see more and more care pushed to the patient. Self care has become an essential part of health care management.
What is Self Care?
We hear a lot about self care in the media these days. Self care is something we intentionally do to care for our mind and body, not only physical health, but also mental and emotional health. Most of us would not skip basic hygiene and necessary medications, but many mothers overlook activities that go beyond this minimally required set. The other day one of my friends told me she “treated herself” to a workout. This is all wrong. We need to move exercise, good nutrition and sleep into the necessary category, right along with brushing your teeth.
Years ago, when I was still working in the corporate world, I turned in an expense report for a business trip that included the $10 fee for using the hotel gym. My boss came into my office and said, “You can’t expense the gym fee, the company doesn’t pay for entertainment.” I told him that going to the gym was the same as food and lodging. He claimed it was entertainment, like going to a movie, and refused to approve it. I mean seriously, do you find your workout entertaining??? LOL! Needless to say, I didn’t stay long at that company. I resigned the day after my first round of stock options vested.
My Self Care Score
I’ll be honest. I never heard the term self care until about a year ago. I do not consider exercise and good nutrition to be self care. They are an integral part of good health. I was overweight as a child and young teen, so I learned about diet and exercise younger than most. Although as a teen, I was motivated by my appearance, not my health. I lost 40 pounds when I was 15 and have kept it off for all these years. Healthy eating and exercise have been a regular part of my life since then. You can’t isolate mental health. Nutrition, exercise and sleep play an essential role is total well-being.
My worst health habit is sleep. I’m one of those people who thinks they function pretty well on a few hours of sleep. Although this is a bonus during the newborn phase, it can lead to bad sleep habits. I typically work at night as part of my regular routine, so sometimes I get into a good work groove late at night and don’t shut down when I should. I do my best work late at night when the world is quiet and nothing else is competing for mindshare. I am always working on getting more sleep and I have been doing better since my little guy started preschool last Fall.
One of my other bad habits is running late. I am always squeezing in a little more workout time or an extra chore before I get out the door. I think I can shower and dress for a business meeting in 2 minutes flat. I’m pretty speedy, but two minutes is a stretch for anyone. This causes undue stress for me and anyone in my path. I’ve been working on this and I’m happy to report some progress.
Spas, massages and pedicures are not my thing. I would rather take another dance class. One of my greatest passions is dance. Having my own business allows me to schedule my time around my favorite classes. I don’t feel like myself if I’m not dancing and it has a huge positive effect on my feeling of well-being.
I love to read but I haven’t read a book for pleasure since my four-year-old was born. I miss reading but I am confident books will still be around when he’s older. Something had to give, and fun books were easy enough to give up, for now.
I am kind of proud to say I added something new a couple years ago. I have been working from home for the past 15 years. I loved working in my bathrobe after all those suit-wearing corporate years. But eventually I realized I had been wearing sawed off sweat pants for the better part of 15 years and decided to clean up my act. Taking some care with my appearance not only made me feel better, it also increased my productivity while working from home. Read more about it at Dress for Success.
Own the Health of Your Mind, Body and Soul
Decide what self care means to you and own it. Be intentional. Be realistic. Own it.
You will probably have to say no to some things to create space for self care. Be intentional about your choices. The only truly finite resource you have is time – every time you say yes to one thing you are saying no to something else by default. The dance community in San Diego has grown tremendously over the years. It has become a vibrant community overflowing with talent. I used to try to see all the shows but now there is something every week and sometimes every night. A few years ago, I decided to stop going to shows. I decided my priority in dance is having my body moving through space. I also stopped performing. Shows and rehearsals take so much time and not all of it is dancing. Dance class gives me the biggest bang for my buck in terms of dance time, so this is where I focus for now. I do a lot of speaking for my business, so I still get plenty of stage time.
There are a million articles out there on self care which may inspire you with simple steps to get started. Go find them. Here is one of my favorite’s, 45 Simple Self-Care Practices for a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul. Consider eliminating the concept of self care in favor of making these essential activities part of your everyday life, rather than optional add-ons.
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