Ever so often the infamous hashtag SELFCARE finds it’s way into our Instagram feed. Girls taking luscious baths, putting facemasks on and pampering themselves into which appears to be pure selfcare heaven.
But what exactly does selfcare mean? Is it really that easy? Taking tremendous care of yourself and all you’d ever have to do is apply a collagen boosting sheetmask on Sunday night?
I don’t really think so.
Selfcare has become a term used lightly while it’s probably one of the hardest things to do. It’s often something women haven’t been taught. Yes, we’re taught to take care of our manicured hands, shiny hair and skin. But did we ever learn how to take care of our inner world? Our heart? Our thoughts and feelings? Our wants and needs? And how on earth do we do that? Because if we don’t take care of the inside, all outside is just an empty shell.
First off, how do you recognize you did NOT take care of yourself? Every woman experiences very different signs and symptoms. Some experience tiredness, feeling overwhelmed, stressed out or downright anxious and depressed. Others women get more physical discomfort such as headaches, belly pains, intense food cravings or heavy menstrual cramps. Sounds familiar? No joke, we’ve all been there.
Point is, it’s time to make selfcare a top priority in our lives. We can’t give the love and care to our loved ones, projects, employers, employees or customers we are capable of when we are giving from an empty cup. So, just like the oxygenmask principle in the airplane remember? Put your own oxygenmask on first, then help the other person or child next to you. This I believe is a great metaphor explaining who comes first: YOU. And no, selfcare is NOT selfish. It’s imperative to a healthy, happy, vibrant life. Truly dear.
It’s like filling up your own cup so much it spills over to all those around you effortlessly instead of constantly giving from your own cup leaving you empty, tired and unfulfilled. So, where to start? It’s a simple secret which requires two things: time and focus. Now, I hear you say ‘Please Louise, not TIME!’ I’m already lacking time and I often wish there would be 8 more hours in the day. I hear you. But honestly, if you don’t have 5 minutes for yourself, you don’t have a life.
So say it’s 5 minutes, great let’s start with 5 minutes. Or could you get creative and carve our up to half an hour? Amazing! The second and most important thing is FOCUS. And by focus I mean concentration. Ever so often we do things on the automatic pilot without even being aware we are doing them. We cook a meal while in our mind we’re in today’s meeting and we play over last night’s conversation while in the shower. Our minds rule our worlds. The key is to bring focus and concentration to our minds.
Now imagine, having 5 minutes. Set an alarm for that time. Sit up straight, feel your feet on the ground and take a deep breath in, exhale out your mouth and sigh (yes, just like you would do during sex). Now ask yourself: ‘What is the theme of the background tape playing in this moment?’ Right now? Is it the worry tape? The stress tape? Happy tape? Remember, 80% of all our thoughts during the day are EXACTLY the same.. So good chance your tape is on repeat. Endlessly telling you the same story over and over again.
Now, regardless of which tape it is, there is no right or wrong, it is already there and you noticed it, so awesome job!
Then breathe in and out through your nose once again and ask yourself the second question: ‘What do I need right now?’ How do I want to FEEL right now? Not how you don’t want to feel, like I don’t want to feel stressed out/bored/tired/panic..
Think of a feeling you love feeling, like a feeling of safety, feeling supported, loved, free or sexy. Then in the last step: in your mind’s eye go back to a time or fantasize a moment in the future where you felt or would feel this feeling. That particular summer holiday, the future love of your life kissing you or that moment you felt so proud of what you had accomplished. Feel it. Feel it in your body. Now sit or stand and smile the way you would or did when you are in that great situation.
Then finish the practice by maybe holding one hand with the other or putting one hand over your heart and say to yourself; I’m here for you. I got you. I love you. Repeat this exercise as often as you can or desire and you will see a major calm and love rush over you.