Ruth: I have also noticed that self-care fosters a sense of wellbeing that comes from the lived dedication of caring for yourself. When you see how much your life changes when you put self-care practices into your daily life, you find it is not a burden to do so, but a joyful rhythm that can become part of each day.
Bernie: Let’s look at some of the old beliefs and share what we now realise is the truth about self-care and self-nurturing that can make a difference in the way you live your life. I remember my mother saying “It’s selfish to pamper yourself – and a mother and wife don’t have the time to do that”. However, I have found that self-care is not about feeling good for an hour or two, or even a week or two – it is about a forever and daily care of self. It cares for the whole body!
Ruth: Yes, my mother used to say that too, she also said “Self-care is expensive and unless you are a film star you shouldn’t be spending that amount of money on yourself.” But I have found out that self-care doesn’t involve needing to buy anything. You can start being caring with yourself today with any number of simple activities like a five-minute Gentle Breath Meditation® or going to bed early, or taking a moment to appreciate who you are.
Bernie: I also like to take a walk, preferably through the bush – simply to enjoy the fresh air, the flight of birds and, of course, to appreciate the beautiful nature, all of which I find very self-nurturing. And while we are talking about taking a walk let’s share what we have found out about exercise. Remember the old cliché ‘No pain no gain’ that we were continually being told when we went to the gym! This old exercise adage is the antithesis of self-care – self-care is being gentle, tender, loving and honouring your body, not pushing it to the limits. Pain is a warning that something is not right in the body. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if everyone would change the mantra to, “If it’s not caring, it’s not happening.”
Ruth: I like that, yes, ‘if it’s not caring, it’s not happening’ would be a great bumper sticker! Another old cliché I recall is that to have a great body you will need to put in a lot of effort. However, I have realised that with gentle self-care practices you will see your body through different eyes. It won’t be about whether there is an absence of fat or more sculpted muscles, but about whether there is a tenderness, joy and love emanating from within. The physical look of the body will naturally follow the tenderness.
Bernie: I totally agree with what you are saying. You know I have a friend who thinks self-care is tedious - even boring! My response to her is that fun, joy and lightness are all part of self-care. You don’t take care of yourself because you have to, or because it's good for you; you take care of yourself because you are the only one on earth like you, you are precious and you deserve to be cared for. After all, we live in our bodies all day, every day.
Ruth: Do you remember that people used to say that self-care is only for people who are sick or recovering from ill-health? Thank goodness we now understand that self-care is immensely beneficial for everyone, and there is nothing to stop anyone adopting self-caring ways, no matter their age, state of health or physical fitness. While self-care has common principles, the activity of self-care will look different for everyone.
Bernie: That reminds me, what about those hundreds, if not thousands, of self-help books, courses and recordings that have invaded our bookshops and women’s magazines. Life and fitness coaches abound, and yet rates of illness and disease continue to rise. Self-care isn’t about finding a 'better you', it is about honouring and caring for who you already are.
Ruth: Yes, those books seem to be full of ‘to-do lists’, when really self-care is a way of being and living that is a foundation of your day. It is not so much about what to do, but about a way of being in the activity you undertake.
Bernie and Ruth: The transformative and life changing benefits of this simple but powerful way of living are too valuable to let these old beliefs and clichés continue. Self-care is by definition ‘caring’ and is also very simple. Caring for your self can become second nature and be a normal part of our everyday life.
Bernadette C. & Ruth A., Australia