It’s 2018. This is a big year for my family. My daughter will be a senior in college. My boys will choose their college, graduate from HS and then start college … somewhere (please let’s pray they’re not on opposite ends of the country!). I will be happy, be sad, be crying, be traveling, be working (more!) and start my next new life chapter. We have a family trip in the planning stages and I’m contemplating a move. So, there should be no question in my world about what to do next — brace for the change. But what’s not on this list, and what we all should have on our 2018 list, is the oh-so-selfish item “Self-Care.”
I know you all were like me these last few weeks – juggling the varied demands of holiday, house guests, parties, home and work. Now its January and it’s time to take a step back, not to make resolutions (I don’t like resolutions) but just to take time for you. The magazines make it sound simple: Drink more water, exercise an hour a day, reduce your carbs, put down the computer. And, while, it’s a bit overwhelming to change everything at once – it’s also, frankly, a struggle. It actually feels unnatural … selfish.
Self-care should be the foundation that allows you to be healthy, grounded and present for all that life throws at you. It can be small changes, made over time, which add up to big results. The biggest hurdle is understanding the importance of taking care of yourself – and then implementing it.
I find myself thinking: “Once I take care of everyone and everything else, then I’ll take care of myself.” Sound familiar?
Authentic self-care is not selfish. It’s not a guarantee that we won’t gain weight, have an accident or get sick — although taking care of ourselves would probably make those things less likely. True self-care is about honoring ourselves and our bodies, nurturing and loving ourselves — both for us and for the benefit of everyone around us.
I once heard Dr. Andrew Weil talking about the importance of self-care. He said that the human body has a great “self-care” model — the heart. He said, “Each time the heart beats, it first pumps blood to itself, then to the rest of the body. It has to work this way in order for us to stay alive. … The same is true for us as human beings. We have to take care of ourselves first, so we can take care of others.” It’s the old – put your oxygen mask on first idea!
Given the nature of our lives, it’s not easy, logistically or emotionally, to implement self-care commitments. But, remember, self-care is not about creating a “plan” or doing it “right.” It’s simply about remembering that we deserve to take care of ourselves, and when we do, it not only nourishes us but also allows us to be available for important things and people in our lives.
Have a great start to 2018!