What is Self-Care?
While I was at a women's retreat this last weekend, there was a debate about Self Care and the stigma around Self-Care. As Mothers, whether we are working or not working, we have a million things on our to-do list. That list never gets done, and it just rolls over the next day and keeps getting bigger. Therefore, some might say half an hour to themselves is a God sent, and it probably is. One of the ladies I was talking to is a mum of 9 kids, and for her, half an hour of uninterrupted bath time is just bliss! Few of us debated that this was not enough, and you need at least 1 hour every day for yourself to do anything just for you. "But where do you find time to do even this?" this is the constant question around the mothers. But I ask you this, don't we owe ourselves a little bit of time out? One hour in the grand scheme of thing is really nothing at all, and will you even call this self-care?
For me, self-care is something you consciously do for yourself consistently; it is a little bit more than just one hour for yourself once a week. It is a routine that is developed to put yourself first regardless of what needs to be done in your home. We then come to Extreme Self-Care.
What is Extreme Self Care?
I came across a book called "Art of Extreme Self Care" by Cheryl Richardson. The book fascinated me as I have never read about a Self-Care regime in this context. In this book, Cheryl defines Self Care as "more than" just an hour for a walk or half an hour uninterrupted bath time. It is about becoming the best version of ourselves, not always trying to be the "good girl". We are so used to running around helping others, making sure everybody around us is catered for and happy; we forget about ourselves in the process. We find it difficult to say "no" when someone needs it, regardless of how we feel.
Then we take on everybody else's pain and worry because all we want to do is "help" and make sure the other person is happy. As a result, we are slowly becoming overwhelmed, anxious. Even angry and hostile at the other person for taking up so much of our time physically and emotionally. When we are in this situation, we need to ask ourselves, are we the "good girl" that does everything for others and do not know how to ask for help because we want to be the hero? If this is the case, we are hurting ourselves, but we are also setting up false expectations in our relationships.
Why is Extreme Self Care important?
Extreme self-care is learning to love ourselves first. By loving ourselves and putting our needs first is not selfish; by putting our self-care first, we are selfless. Furthermore, we are better equipped to look after those around us with unconditional love by looking after ourselves.
Do not be afraid to say no to others, do not be afraid to disappoint others. The more we say yes to everyone, the deeper down the rabbit hole we go. We need to learn to deal with the guilt that will arise when we begin to disappoint others, as that will happen. I struggled when I started to put this practice in place and started to say no, especially with my kids. I did not want to see the hurt or disappointment in their eyes. Regardless of how much physical pain I was in, I would have done what my child wanted to make them happy. I have realised that was making the situation worse for all involved.
To be the best version of ourselves and love those around us unconditionally, we need to put away the "good girl" cape and prioritise ourselves with no guilt or angst.
Starting your "Extreme" Self-Care Routine
Putting extreme self-care in motion is not easy, especially when you have done something the same way for so long. Changing your mindset and habits take time, and you need to be ready to make that change. So don't put pressure on yourself to get it done in the space of a few weeks. Start slow, depends on where you are currently in your self-care routine. I have given a few tips based on your stage.
Beginner – Currently no Self-Care Routine
Introduce 1 hour a day 2 x week for yourself
Go for a walk
Have lie down, just be
Go to a cafe
Have 2-3 x recharge stations
It could be a spot in your lounge room that you just sit with a cuppa and sit for a while, even it is only 10-15
If you have time before picking up your kids from school, just sit in your car, don't use this time to answer emails or check SM. Just shut your brain for 10min.
Intermediate – Already doing the above?
Increase that 1hr/day twice a week to 4 x week
Take one day of the weekend once a month for you.
Drinks/dinner with friends or on your own
Movies on your own
Sleepover at your loved one's place (preferably someone without a child!)
Once a year, go away for a weekend without your family.
Advanced – Already doing 1 & 2?
Well, this is where EXTREME self-care begins.
Start saying "no" when you are asked to come out for dinner, and you just don't feel up to it because you want some alone time.
Say "no" when your boss has asked you to take on an extra project, but you are already at capacity - yes, this is tough, but what will happen if you do take on that project and you are already working on a few others? What will happen to you mentally, physically and emotionally? Ask this before you say "yes."
Your child wants to add on another extracurricular activity, but you just cannot spare the time – say no.
Learning to accept that it's ok not always to have to wear the superwoman cape
If someone is angry or upset with you because you said no to them, then that's their issue, not yours.
Look at the mirror and really look, and see you, not your bad skin, or wrinkles or anything else you might normally see. Look past it and see the beauty within you and learn to say “I Love You.”
Declutter! Declutter your space. You declutter your mind.
Pick what stage you are at and start there, and if you are at stage number three, it is not going to be easy, but you are amazing, and you can achieve anything.