Combatting Self Care Myths
This month I’m exploring self care – one of the twelve core principles in Rewired. On the surface, self care sounds like something that should be a “no brainer.” Of course we want to take care of ourselves and do what’s necessary to survive.
However, true self care isn’t just about providing ourselves with what we need to survive; self care is about giving ourselves what we need to thrive. Today I’m looking at three popular myths that get in the way of self care and exploring how we can conquer them.
Myth #1: I already know how to take care of myself
In today’s hectic and busy world, it feels like a triumph to simply wake up every morning and get through the day. But how often do we really check in with ourselves to ask what we need to feel content, safe and fulfilled? What would you change in your life if you knew the answer to those questions?
The truth is that many of us just don’t know how to take care of ourselves. We know how to “get by” but that often comes at the expense of self care. True self care is about getting in touch with what our body, hearts, and minds are telling us they need and doing things to meet those needs. The good news is that we can learn how to practice self care, even if we never have before. In my last post (link to post) I talked about encouraging my clients to go for a walk, see a play, or take in a movie. As we do small things to meet our physical, emotional, and mental needs, we can learn how to incorporate self care into our every day lives.
Tips to combat this myth: Try keeping a self care journal for a week. Take note of when you feel particularly physically, emotionally, or mentally drained. When the week is over, read through your journal and ask yourself: “How can I address that feeling the next time it comes up?” Make a list of things that you can do and put it somewhere you can see it during the next week.
Myth #2: Self care is selfish and means I’m neglecting other people in my life
One of the things that we all grapple with is feeling guilty for taking time to care for ourselves. It feels “wrong,” as if we are somehow being overindulgent of our moods and feelings.
In fact, self care is the greatest gift we can give to the people who mean the most to us. When we take care of ourselves, we are keeping ourselves strong and ensuring that we are physically, emotionally, and mentally healthy enough to be a supportive friend, mother, husband, partner, or co-worker. Self care is not just something we do for ourselves; it’s something we do for everyone.
Tips to combat this myth: Think of what you would tell a good friend who told you they felt guilty for taking care of him or herself. Would you agree that they were being selfish or would you encourage them to take care of themselves? Try applying that same level of concern and understanding to your own needs.
Myth #3: Self care means doing anything that feels good
This is a particularly challenging myth for people on the path to sobriety or people who are struggling with addictions. Self care does not mean simply doing things that “feel good.” As many of us on sobriety and wellness journeys know, the things that make us feel good are often the things that bring about the most havoc in our lives. Having a drink to unwind or a cigarette to reduce stress may sound like quick and easy ways to take care of ourselves but true self care is about doing things that support a life of wellness and health.
Tips to combat this myth: Understand your triggers and understand where they are coming from. Work with your support system to talk through times when you feel that you need to give into a trigger. A self care journal can also help because it can help you see if you are using unhealthy behaviors as “self rewards” that are getting in the way of self care.
Self care is not an easy practice to incorporate into our lives, but it is well worth the work. With self care, we can have the physical, emotional, and mental strength we need to live enriching and fulfilling lives.
If you are interested in learning more about self care, I encourage you to contact me.