I had a rude awakening about how difficult I find it to practice self-care.

My partner had a cold over the weekend.  I made sure he took good care of himself; drinking lots of water and resting. I told him “Your body needs time to repair itself. Don’t push yourself, just take it easy”.  And he did. He rested on the couch, he sat in the sunshine and then had an afternoon nap.  In fact, he did all the things we should do when we are unwell.  Today he is feeling much better and has gone back to work.

Sounds glorious right? Can you imagine yourself doing it? No? Me neither!

Why is self-care so hard to do?  

Today,  I have the cold!  I felt it coming on last night and this morning it has fully arrived! Nothing major, just a sore throat, fuzzy head and runny nose,  but I feel miserable.  What am I doing about it?  Ladies! I know you know!  Yep. I’m planning on working.  I’ll be following up on emails, making appointments, preparing for a workshop and in between I’ll be squeezing in some laundry and bits of housework.

We don’t take our own self-care advice 

I am sure there are many women who can relate to giving self-care advice to others but not taking it themselves. The problem is, when we consistently care for others but don’t take time to care for ourselves, we begin to feel tired, exhausted, unhappy and resentful. What’s more, we reinforce the unreasonable expectations and limiting beliefs we have about ourselves .

This morning just as I was preparing to ‘soldier on’ and ignore how miserable I felt, I decided to take some of my own advice and get in touch with the story I was telling myself.  Here’s what I heard playing in my head:

“It’s not that bad, just a sniffle, don’t make it into a big deal”

“I have so much to do, I can’t afford to rest”

“I’ll work this morning and if I still feel miserable this afternoon then I’ll take a nap”

“I’ll let others down if I stop working”

“I should be able to keep going, it’s not a serious illness”! 

Sound familiar? That’s the inner critic talking! 

The inner critic makes us feel guilty about self-care

When we talk to ourselves this way we are saying that we believe:

“I’m not worth it”

“I don’t deserve it”

“I’m less important than other people”

Our inner critic is always ready to have something to say, always ready to offer a put-down or lay on some guilt. The good news is, the more we catch our inner critic, the better we become at recognising her and the less powerful she becomes.

So back to my ‘to work or not to work’ dilemma – what did I do? I ended up choosing to rest. There are a couple of work related things I really want to do today but  I’ll choose to leave other things until I’m feeling better.    I am choosing to care for myself and manage my expectations of myself.

 

Self-care is about treating ourselves the same way we treat those we love

 We can all make choices like this. Self-care is not just about looking after ourselves when we are sick. Daily self-care doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming . It’s about treating ourselves just like we would treat those we love. Let’s give ourselves permission to look out for ourselves and believe that we deserve the same amount of care and love we give to others. When we do this, others will believe it too.

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