Getting Real About Self-Care

Self-Care Is Not Impossible When You Understand What It Truly Is

Benjamin Franklin once said:

“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water”

When self-care is absent in life, we can feel overwhelmed, exhausted and unappreciated by the people around us. Our sense of self-worth disintegrates, and before long we start to realise the need and value in reinvesting in our own wellbeing.

Practicing self-care as a parent restores the internal balance that is often disrupted as a result of endless giving; to our children, our partner, our work… and the list can go on. It’s absolutely vital for parents to learn how to consider their own needs against the needs of others, and how to feel good about caring for themselves.

To function and thrive, we need to feel well, do well and be well, and a fundamental part of this is self-care. Simply put, self-care is about nurturing your mind and thoughts, your body and physical health, and your emotions. But the concept of ‘self-care’ has become a bit of a buzz word on social media these days, with many misconceptions about what it truly is and what it looks like.

Defining Self-Care

It is very important to understand that self-care is essentially made up of two different categories of activities.

Firstly, there are our ‘basic needs’; things that are important predominantly to our physical wellbeing, such as bathing, eating, brushing our teeth and hair, and being clothed.

Secondly, there are our ‘cup-fillers’; activities that we enjoy, that we consider fun, make us feel happy, fulfilled and inspired.

Sometimes these self-care activities can cross-over — a long hot shower can be extremely enjoyable and is also important for our health. With that said, it is perfectly normal if some days all we can manage is our basic needs.

Finding opportunities for deeper self-care activities from the second category, however, is a critical part of achieving and maintaining wellness. It’s about treating yourself like you love yourself and acting like your needs and enjoyment matter just as much as anyone else’s. Ultimately, taking the time to give ourselves what we need leads to greater happiness, calm, emotional resilience, clarity, motivation, and energy.

What Does Self-Care Look Like?

Self-care activities that fill our cups look different from parent to parent, and they don’t always need to be done alone or without our kids. In addition, if scented bubble baths and meditation bring on a major case of the eye-rolls, then we probably won’t feel replenished by doing them. Don’t like yoga? Don’t do it! There is no wrong or right way to ‘do’ self-care.

Remember the old K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid)? It applies to self-care choices too. Acts of self-care could include anything from taking a nap to exercising, spending time with friends, catching up on a favourite TV show, visiting the hairdresser, taking a bubble bath, watching a sunset or reading a book.

Regular, small pockets of time for self-care, however, are far better for us than occasional big actions such as a massage or even a weekend away. This is the notion of ‘Sustainable Self-Care’.

Sustainable Self-Care

Firstly, sustainable self-care is scheduled. Have a weekly planner on the fridge that marks out self-care time for either you or you and your partner. Use it to also map out regular weekly commitments for the kids.

Secondly, it is short but sweet. Fifteen minutes to yourself every day is, in fact, more beneficial than an hour to yourself once a month. With 15-20 minutes totally for yourself, you can meditate, take a short walk, drink a cup of tea that is still hot, sing or dance to a couple of your favourite songs or read a chapter of a book in the garden. All of these things can replenish our sense of wellbeing.

Lastly, sustainable self-care is a commitment to constant work in progress. It is so easy to let the madness of parenthood get the better of us. There are always so many things to juggle, and it is incredibly easy to let self-care be the first ball that gets dropped. As long as we honour our commitment to regular, sustainable action, we will feel like much happier parents.

In The Moment Self-Care

When was the last time you asked yourself “What do I need right now?”

This question can help us practice ‘in the moment’ self-care, which is essentially a brief re-connection with ourselves to quickly identify and satisfy a need that is going unnoticed and unmet.

It’s extra important to practice self-care when we have lots of outside stressors, feel unwell or run down, feeling overwhelmed or we notice our inner voice is putting us down. If we take less than a minute to ask ourselves this question in these situations, we might uncover the need for:

  • – a quiet moment to think
  • – something to eat or drink
  • – getting outside for some fresh air
  • – a hug or physical connection
  • – sleep or rest
  • – a change of scenery
  • – someone to talk to
  • – some help
  • – a few deep breaths
  • – a change in perspective 

This is a highly practical, easy-to-do strategy that, over time, gets easier to integrate into the busy life as a parent, and can have a huge effect on our approach to self-care.

Despite being such an important thing to do every day, nurturing ourselves is also one of the easiest things to forget. It often gets pushed aside more often until we become chronically stressed, we gain weight, we become completely burnt out or we develop even more serious health issues, such as depression, diabetes or obesity. The ironic part is that we usually sacrifice our self-care so we can get more things done, however all this does is leave us feeling frazzled, resentful and overwhelmed with less capacity and resilience to get everything done due to running on an ‘empty cup’.

Caring for yourself is one of the most important things you can do for yourself, and for those around you. It helps give us the energy to give and give and give to our children. It helps preserve our patience and sanity.  It helps us feel valued in the world and creates a deeper sense of connection and joy within our family unit.

If you need any help with supporting employees to create sustainable self-care practices and invest in their own wellbeing, or would like to know more about our parent support programs, then please give us a call today on 0402 294 953.  We’d love the opportunity to help!