When we think of self-care, we tend to think of quiet and solitude. You may picture doing yoga, Pilates, mindful meditations, serene swims or soothing baths. Sure, those things are components of self-care but they don’t tell the big picture.
Self-care is not just about you. Let me explain. The people in your life have to know what self-care means to you and how they can participate.
First of all, speak up. Tell your partner, family and friends what you need. Too often we act as if people who know us can read our minds and give us what we need when we need it. This does not need to have the seriousness of your last will and testament or end of life plans, but a path of love and care while you are here to receive it.
Think of love languages and the ways that you need to be heard, understood and appreciated. Maybe you need more help around the house or with the kids, time to yourself, emotional support for a specific challenge or good old-fashioned time to yourself.
Self-care doesn’t mean going it alone. It means insisting that people who genuinely care about you facilitate your wellness. You shouldn’t wait for a crisis until you get what you deserve. Have discussions with the people who matter at times that are best for you.
Schedule a meal, take a walk, or go shopping. Remind the people in your life why they matter and why you trust them with such an important matter. Asking people to show up and be present is a reasonable request. In turn, listen to what they have to say to you.
Be prepared to reciprocate. First, you have to lose the image in your head about what this really means. Reciprocity is not just a repeat of what his helpful to you, it is an active way to give back to someone else their terms. It may be similar or totally opposite of what they give to you. This is important as self-care is a dialogue. You and the people you care about have to set expectations for what you need. Again, this doesn’t have to be a deep, heavy conversation. It is a means to opening and maintaining communication with those close to you. You all play a role in each other’s wellness.
Giving and sharing is also healing. This may be as simple as paying it forward. Donate to a cause you believe in. Buy coffee for a stranger. Offering to babysit. The imperative is to replenish yourself while giving to others. This should not be compulsory or draining. It should be a real extension of you. As you move more deeply in your self-care focus, be mindful of your feelings, thoughts and sense of awareness. Know that by staying open and engaged, you are keeping yourself whole and well.