Last week I connected with some powerful national presenters and we discussed the concept of self-care. Like many, they see self-care as something you “should do” for your physical health (exercise, eat well, get enough sleep), but that’s where it ends. They were curious when I shared that I define self-care as the art of attuning and responding to your needs and desires, moment to moment.
Pick up an onion and hold it in your palm. For me, self-care would be the outer layer, then a few layers deeper, you’ll find self-compassion (as you learn to accept yourself warts and all), then a few layers beyond that you’d arrive at the holy grail: self-love. I see self-care as the first doorway we go through to begin to truly accept who we are, and ultimately, to begin to love ourselves.
What does self-care mean to you? Some of my workshop attendees have said: self-care means practicing self-forgiveness; releasing guilt and believing I deserve to have my needs met; learning to cultivate self-compassion; breathing and listening to my body; remembering to laugh and find joy in everyday life; connecting with and expressing my authentic self; being fully “me” (not who others want me to be) and sometimes it’s moving mountains to get bed by 9:30 p.m.!
The art and practice of self-care has been a central focus for my life balance work since 1999 and it has had a profound and lasting change on how I live. I wish my son (who is entering middle school in the fall) could take Self-Care 101 where he would learn the art and science of physical, emotional, mental and spiritual self-care–along with Pre-Algebra and Creative Writing! Can you imagine a world where everyone–both adolescents and adults–interacted from a full-cup rather than an empty one?
There are many, many benefits to making self-renewal a priority (read more). For me, practicing self-care (and ultimately learning to embrace self-acceptance and self-love) has helped me to:
- be more easy-going and to learn to “go with the flow”
- see that little things stay little (my son not picking up his dirty socks) and don’t become front page news
- have more space around my thoughts and become more present
- be kinder and more compassionate to others (whether it’s a waitress, family member, car mechanic or business partner)
- connect more deeply to the sacred and the spiritual aspects of every day life
- react less and Live Inside Out more (read more)
- sense my connection to everything around me and how interwoven we all are
But most importantly, this practice has helped me feel that everything is ok (about 90% of the time), no matter what happens. And ultimately, this underlying anchoring sense of peace and well-being is what we’re all seeking, isn’t it?
INVITE: Interested in having me lead a work-life effectiveness workshop for your organization or group this fall and tapping the power of self-care as a tool for employee engagement, retention and resiliency? Learn more.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance teachers/speaker author Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping and numerous media outlets. Thousands of women in ten countries are participating in Personal Renewal Groups based on her first book, the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and son. More on her background here.