Self-care can be yoga and herbal tea and a hot bath. It can be the emotional release of a kick-boxing session followed by writing out a manageable to-do list to help manage stress. For others it is talking to themselves gently and encouragingly to do that task they’ve been putting off for months.
At the root of self-care is self-compassion. Having compassion for yourself is made up of two steps
1) Noticing your suffering
2) Responding to your suffering with kindness and understanding
Take a minute to connect with yourself and your emotions. Ask yourself “how am I feeling?”
Say the feelings out loud to yourself if possible, to help bring the emotional experience to the forefront of your mind and to really connect with it.
“I feel overwhelmed”
“I feel lonely”
“I feel angry”
Notice your suffering. Put a name to it. Look at it without judgement.
Next ask yourself, based upon how you are feeling “what do I need in this moment?” Listen to your body as much as you can. We all have needs, but often they’re pushed down or ignored or avoided. We might never have learned to listen to our own needs, instead focusing our attention primarily on the needs of those around us. Respond to the suffering. Our emotions are messengers, what messages are your emotions telling you?
“I need to step away from this situation and have some time to myself outdoors”
“I need someone to listen and to truly hear me”
“I need the emotional release of a run”
Self-compassion is not ‘letting yourself off the hook’. It isn’t self-pity or self-indulgence. It is seeing ourselves as human and flawed and growing and learning. It is about facing ourselves with curiosity instead of judgement and doing the hard work, in a loving and understanding way. It’s about talking to ourselves in the same way we would talk to a best friend – not enabling, but supporting.
At the root of true self-care is self-compassion.
What will self-care look like for you today?