I was recently visiting with the head of large east-coast private school who shared that his stressed-out school community was struggling with self-care. Like many, he saw self-care as something you “should do” for your physical health (exercise, eat well, get enough sleep) and that’s where it ended. He became curious when I shared that I define self-care as the art of attuning and responding to your needs and desires, moment to moment. You could see the wheels turning as he contemplated my definition.
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 central to my life balance/self-renewal programs since 1999 and it has had a profound and lasting change on how I live. I wish Self-Care 101 was offered in middle school so our kids could 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 has helped me to:
- be less rigid and to learn to “go with the flow” (critical with a teen at home!)
- be kinder and more compassionate (whether it’s with a waitress, family member or team member)
- become more present and have more space around my thoughts (more responsive, less reactive)
- see that little things stay little (my son not picking up his dirty socks) and don’t become front page news
- slow down and connect more deeply to the sacredness of everyday life
- weather challenges more easily (whether that a health, career or relationship crisis)
- live more in my “wise zone” and remember who I really am
But most importantly, this practice has helped me know that even when everything and everyone around me seems to be falling apart, I am still my own best friend and everything is going to be OK. And ultimately, this underlying sense of peace and well-being is what we’re all seeking, isn’t it?
TAKE ACTION: Are you in your 40’s-50’s and craving high-level mentoring/support and authentic connection from a circle of like-minded women? Join me for four Thursdays Sept. 10-Oct. 1 from 12-1 p.m. CST and enjoy resources/inspiration/new tools for becoming your own best friend as you journey into the second half of life. Learn/more register for Embracing the Wild Unknown: Nurturing Yourself in Mid-Life & Beyond–a live telecourse (that means via phone; all classes are recorded). Early bird rate of $99; space is limited-reserve your spot today! Participate live or you can download the recorded classes/mp3s at your convenience.
Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance teacher/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Offering speaking, custom workshops, training, books/telecourses and individual coaching focusing on self-renewal for women, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-care groups based on her award-winning curriculum. She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 13 year-old son. More on her background here.
Photo: Acadia National Park, ME. Yesterday my family had a back-to-school prep meeting. The focus of the meeting: self-care. We all decided that spending time in nature as a family was critical to our well-being and are planning a short trip to the beach this fall.