What is Self Care
What is self care?
Self care is anything you intentionally do to care for yourself mentally emotionally and physically. These are not things that just happen or as an aside to caring for someone else. It must be a deliberate action that we make for ourselves. Most of us forget about self care as we gain more responsibilities for those around us. There are kids to cook for, a house to clean, our job, and everything we do costs energy that comes only from inside ourselves. We put off that hair cut, forget to take our vitamins, don’t have time for our own exercise, haven’t bought ourselves new clothes since getting our job, and honestly don’t feel we have time for any of that. We will wake early to take someone to the airport but neglect to spend 15 minutes in the bathroom alone to just recharge.
Self care can be as little as spending time without anyone else around to as large as a vacation. It all depends on what you need. To be able to preform self care we must stop and listen to what we really want. It takes practicing mindfulness and paying attention to our bodies. This may make you fee as if self care is equal to selfishness but its really not. By focusing on ourselves it allows us to do more for others. We have more to give when we take care of ourselves. When we have more energy and emotional stability we have more that we can contribute to others.
Another way self care is important is it improves our self esteem. By caring for our needs like going to the gym and eating healthy you will come to be at a higher level of physical health which in turn makes you feel better about yourself. When you care for yourself you follow through with what you need which gives yourself the feeling of being important. These things raise your self esteem and confidence without really even trying to. It is just a natural progression with following a self care routine.
Sadly most people, especially those who have been in a trauma situation, have a hard time giving themselves the self care that’s needed. There is always someone who needs something and one of the symptoms of betrayal trauma is caring more about others than they do themselves. This can make caring for themselves very hard.
Why do we need to do this in recovery?
Everyone needs to do self are on a regular basis, but when you are dealing with the stress of betrayal, managing recovery, daily problems in our life, sickness, or really anything that puts us off our game we need to take more time for ourselves. In recovery we are dealing with emotional and mental pain that needs to be worked through. That takes extra energy from our wellspring. To be able to function and thrive we need to feed ourselves first so we have that for others and our own needs. Because of the need for self care related to our confidence and self esteem we are especially in need of it when dealing with others who may make us feel less than important. Giving ourselves the self care we need produces feelings of well-being and self awareness which continues a healthy view of self esteem.
Also because of our trauma we may use our focus on others to numb or not focus on our own feelings. When we start recovery, we are required to take time and look at ourselves and our pain. We are required to look at our patterns that are not conducive to where we want to be in life. We are required to come to terms with life, and our problems. To do that takes tremendous strength, focus, and self love. Self care is the base of those principles.
What to do?
So how do we start regularly participating in self care? We must make ourselves a focus in our mind at all times. When we feel something is needed we need to actually take the time to do it. That means take the time you need for yourself to eat, sleep, and do those things just for you. Become used to making yourself a priority. When you are stressed, take time to take a nice hot bath and relax. When you feel sick, make an appointment with the doctor and actually go. If you never eat things you like because no one else in you house likes it, once in a while make it anyway. If they aren’t allergic they can eat it or find something else. Obviously all of this is within reason and not when it would endanger someone else. Use common sense but make sure you do what would fuel you.
Another huge way to make self care a priority is to make a list of things you DON’T want to do. Like going to that office party that you hate every year? Nope. Take that time to do something for yourself. Driving Aunt Willow to Canada for no reason? But driving long distances is a nightmare for you? You don’t have to. It is ok to say no. It will not kill anyone. They will either learn to do for themselves or find another way.
Just to clarify it is also not healthy to go completely to only caring for your self either. It is a balancing act. If something doesn’t bother you and someone asks, go ahead. If it would make you happy to help someone that’s even better. If you have kids obviously you will still do everything for them that they need, it just means you need to focus on both.
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