Pamper days, massages, reading a book uninterrupted… There a dozen ways to spend time indulging in self-care. But somehow the effects of these activities are not particularly long lasting, which is why I want to talk about the ultimate self-care strategy today.
Why Self-Care Is So “Slippery”
There is absolutely no doubt that busy, business-building Mama’s need self-care as much as they need that hit of caffeine in the morning. Yet, somehow it is sorely overlooked. Yes, we know we are supposed to be “caring for self” and likely have some idea on how we would like to do it. But the idea of self-care is hard to hold on to. It is just so slippery. Because the truth is; if something “more important” comes along then our self-care slowly slips down the list of priorities. (And I put “more important” in inverted commas because anything could actually be deemed “more important” than our own self-care)
The Myths of Self Care
Of course we hold a number of unhelpful beliefs around self-care. Beliefs that get in the way of us actually engaging in any meaningful and sustainable self-care strategy. Some of the most common include:
Self-care is time out:
We have this sneaky little belief that self-care means taking yourself away and out of the realm of family and responsibility. Perhaps it is for a day, an hour or even just a few minutes. But, essentially self-care includes being away. And while that certainly comes with an enticing allure to it when you are tapped out and depleted, not all self-care needs to entail removing yourself from the situation.
No pain no gain:
Somehow we believe we need to earn the right to some “time out”. So if we haven’t moved mountains, then we don’t really deserve the time to engage in that self-care activity. As a result, we have moms, literally, burning out before they are able to give themselves permission to take care of themselves.
Self-care is selfish:
Ooo this one is a nasty little belief that has crept up in almost every mother’s mind at some point or another. Here is the scenario: You find yourself with that extra half hour before you need to get the kids. Your choices are; (1) Have a browse through Target (or similar) in absolute peace or (2) grab the kids for some extra time with them. While most moms would prefer to browse alone, only some will give themselves permission to do it and at least 80% would feel they are being selfish and should go get the kids… Thereby defeating the purpose of the browse.
Self-care costs money:
And then we have the ideas on self-care that include the massage, the facial, getting hair done, going on a lunch date, joining a gym etc. Each and every one of them cost money. And maybe we just don’t have the dollars to spend. So self-care that costs money normally never makes it onto the list at all. Let’s face it, 9 out of 10 times you will find a “more important” thing to spend your money on. Now who can afford self-care every week, right?
Self-care needs time:
I often hear moms tell me they just don’t have the time for “proper self-care”. What, pray-tell, is “proper” self-care? This implies that self-care needs to take a good amount of time in order for it to be “proper”. But let’s face it, what busy, business-building mother out there has loads of time for “proper” self-care? So, of course it never gets a look in.
You Have Been Wrong All Along
So what if I told you that you have been wrong about what self-care actually is?
Yes, bubble baths and special time out are certainly lovely things that count as self-care, but there is an important step that happens before this is even made possible.
You see, before you are able to allow yourself to browse Target, get a massage or take “time out”, you actually have to give yourself permission… And maybe even more importantly, you have to believe you deserve it.
The ultimate self-care strategy is not finding time for yourself. It is not about identifying which of the 45 self-care ideas you should use (You can download the list just below for free).
The ultimate self-care strategy is shifting your self-talk.
Shifting Self-Talk As The Ultimate Self-Care Strategy
Mom-Guilt is a thing. A real thing. And it is viciously perpetuated by our own inner self-talk. Often saying mean little things such as “you should have done this” or “you could have handled that better”. We engage in self-talk that berates us when we have had less than stellar moments and lost our s#!t. We have self-talk that tells us we don’t deserve to take the time, read a book, say “no”.
I challenge you to simply notice what you are saying to yourself throughout the day. Take note of how many unkind things you are saying to yourself. If you haven’t done something like this before, be warned: It can be shocking! Most of the time we aren’t even aware of how we are talking to ourselves.
And this self-berating, demanding self-talk that just continues unabated in the background can only contribute to feeling like crap, right? Surely you cannot feel good if you are constantly telling yourself that you “should” this or “could have” that. Those words blatantly imply that you have just not done a good enough job.
So when we become more aware of this self-talk and how mean we are being to ourselves, then we can begin to shift it and begin engaging in the ultimate self-care strategy.
The “Shoulds”, “Coulds” and “Ought to’s” Have To Go
One of the biggest, most powerful shifts we can make is getting rid of the “should’s”, “could’s” and “ought to’s” in our lives. They are the little beasts that stand firmly in the way of feeling like we deserve to put ourselves first and give permission to prioritise ourselves.
You see, when faced with our previous scenario of Target vs. Kids it is the self-talk that says “you should spend more time with the kids” that stops that choice dead in it’s tracks. Or when you want to take yourself for a massage and then you think “you could spend that money on x y or z, rather”. Another example is telling yourself that “you really ought to get that other important thing done before you go for a run, nap, bath etc”. (And then run out of time).
You see, we are never prioritising ourselves and it is largely because we believe we “should” be doing something else “more important”.
The ultimate Self-Care Strategy in Action
You have stopped being so damned hard on yourself. In fact, you make a mistake and you say “that’s ok, there is always next time to do better”. You get impatient with the kids and you say “Wow, I had a hard day, no wonder I am feeling ratty… I need a break”
Imagine being kind to yourself the way you would to a friend…
How good would you feel? So much less pressure, right?
No more guilt, feeling not good enough.
More importantly, your self-talk would regularly give you permission to do what needs to be done to feed your soul. To take care of yourself. Maybe that means saying “no” more. Perhaps it does include a long hot bath. Or maybe it is getting some exercise.
Whatever the strategies are (and I have 45 of them here for you to download for free today), you would feel you deserve them and you will allow yourself to enjoy them…Guilt free. So as you go on your merry way this week, I challenge you, Mama, to take a look inward and shift the self-talk as your ultimate self-care strategy.