Over the last few years, especially 2018, the idea of self care has really imploded. From self care travel/holidays, to stay at home self care rituals. From yoga, meditation, chakra cleansing, running, and other workouts to Mediterranean, Ayurvedic and several extreme forms of diets. From self care at work to self care at pubs, self care in your car to self care in your couch, the cry for self care has become ubiquitous. I won’t blame you if you are a little tired of all the self care you are meant to be doing.
Don’t get me wrong, I am totally on the side of self care. I have been on a break from my high pressure high paying career and have totally devoted my time to my self care, the whole of last year. So believe you me, when I say, I am totally riding the self care bandwagon.
So why one more article and what different could it possibly have to say. The intent with this post is not to tell you what you must do. Its not 16 tips to better self care or any such. What I want to do here is take a step back. To really go back to the basics. What I want to leave you with is lets look at self care from scratch.
Because, amidst all the hoopla surrounding it, I can’t help feel that this has become yet another of those things we ‘must achieve’. And I feel this keenly because I literally was treating the idea of self care as one of those many things I, the classic Type A personality has to and can achieve. The beauty of it is the harder you try to achieve it, the further away you are getting away from it.
There are broadly 2 ways of looking at things – outwards to inwards and inwards to outwards.
The concept of looking inward to outward is now become quite popular. The famous author of the popular book “Start With Why”, Simon Sinek had proposed this concept as the Golden Circle, which I find quite simple, effective and useful for every decision.
In Self care, especially, considering it is primarily caring for Our Selves, it is absolutely imperative that we look at things from a holistic perspective, starting from inner motivation, drive explained by the why and moving outward in the circle.
Why Self Care?
This is the most basic question and it can have a simple answer. Except how many times do we really have the answer? How many times do we pause to look for the answer?
Consider this, is the true answer to why self care for you, ‘because everyone is on this bandwagon and I know you must take care of yourself and I hear it everyday so its important’?
Or Is the answer, ‘I am stressed/anxious/burnt out and the solution to all that is self care?’
Or maybe your answer is, ‘I need to take care of myself in order for me to take care of other things?’
Or Perhaps, the answer is a little more personal. Taking my own example, the reason self care became an important topic for me to address was I became aware of the disconnect I had with my body. I hadn’t really noticed or observed how completely mind driven my entire attitude and way of life was. I thought rather than felt, though my vernacular always was using feel.
I felt deeply about things I believe but I didn’t know how to access those feelings because I was completely disconnected with my physical self. The only connection I had to myself was my brain, my thoughts. And from that a lot of my other issues – mental, emotional and physical, were stemming. So my drive to reconnect with my physical self and through that forming a deeper connection to my whole self became the core of my self care.
Serendipitously, I had embarked on a more holistic internal journey as a part of coaching practise and study that I was doing. That helped me really think deeply about ‘my why’, know it and understand it. As a result, not only have I made better decisions on the what and how that are working for me, but it also helped me develop the attitude needed to sustain the actions.
How of Self Care?
Self care does call for your resources – time, energy and money – to be utilised. And that could be quite challenging for many who then end up either breaking their bank and themselves in the process or completely ignoring it out of fear/overwhelm from the choices.
We live in a world full of choices. There are so many ways of doing one thing. Its perhaps not surprising that the world of self care has become a huge part of the capitalistic world we live in. There can be such an industry that can be built around it that it is a gift that could keep giving for those running the industry.
So choosing the how could be an extremely challenging part of the process. And, if you are like me or like most people, you may be more inclined to making things complicated. Its counter intuitive but also true that our minds do tend to give higher value to things that appear more complicated than the ones that are right in front of you and available to you at ease and with such simplicity.
In the course of my self care regimes, I decidedly went after the more complicated option available. Over time and after many trials and tribulations that have resulted in many tantrums and lots of tears (of others around me mostly!)I have come to realise the profound beauty behind keeping things simple. And that has come to become my mantra of how for self care as also how for other things in life.
Keeping the how simple is simply keeping it, well simple. We all know what Simple means, something that is easily understood, easily done, easily explained. So keeping the how simple means to do the easiest thing you can in your self care process that helps you fulfil your why.
What of Self Care?
The what is basically the realisation of your why through the how. Once the why and how are clear, the what becomes relatively easy. At least on paper.
Allow me to elucidate this concept with my own personal example. Before I took the inward-outward route, I still knew that I wanted to do yoga (I mean who doesn’t) and eat healthy (I mean, you got to right?). Did I need to do exactly what I did? In some cases probably yes and in some most definitely not.
I kept going round and round in circles. I had tried so many forms of physical activities – many kinds of yoga including the ariel yoga (I can barely do yoga on the ground but hell was I ready to do yoga in the air!), pilates, tai chi. There were hardly any form of activity I hadn’t heard of at the very least, if not tried it. Same goes with diets. From a vegetarian paleo (self invented) to intermittent, to raw press only to eating only one form of food the whole day and several form of experimentations with different kinds of food (vegetarian), nothing that could not be done was left undone.
None of these did anything; none of these were repeated or sustained beyond 3 days at the maximum and they weren’t making me feel better. Its a different matter that I didn’t know exactly how I was supposed to feel to know that I felt better.
However, once I knew my why, that is the purpose of self care was to allow to me rekindle my connection to my physical self, I became more deliberate with my choices. No more hanky-panky, let’s try everything. Ofcourse there is this occasional curiosity to try something new but that just became part of ‘having fun’ and not my how or what.
The how to achieve my purpose became fairly clear from here on, I just needed to remember to keep it simple. I knew that I needed to find something that I could sustain easily and keep it long term.
A regular form of Hatha yoga practise done daily with some light aerobic activity like walking/running/cycling in the park was literally all I needed. Food wise, the natural vegetarian diet which was already pretty close to Ayurvedic principles and was pretty well balanced (I am a nutritionist I should (have) known) was what I needed. It was already a part of my life and I didn’t need to do anything extra there. The only amend I needed to make was to cut back on my sweet tooth. And whenever the need presented itself I would write down whatever was coming up in that instance.
And that’s exactly what I went on to do. No crazy diets, no OTT physical exercises and no obsessive journaling, charting and planning of my food intake, mood diaries and such. And I can safely say that I feel I have made progress. That’s saying something, considering I usually don’t ever feel like I have made progress and many times I probably go round and round in circles in the hope of making progress.
In conclusion, self care is not just important for every one of us, but is a MUST. But, it doesn’t have to look like any specific thing. It needs to look like what you need it to look like and for that you need to start with your why.
Think about your why, keep your how simple and enjoy your what!
I hope I have inspired you to spend some time on your golden circle. Let me know how it worked out?