how to practice self-care

What Does It Really Mean to Practice Self-care?

By the time people make their way to a life coach, they are often pretty well-versed in the most common literature around self-care. They’ve read lots of self-help books, and listen to a few podcasts a week. They might even go the gym, drink green smoothies, and have a meditation practice. But they show up at my door because despite their best efforts, they are still feeling sad, anxious, or frustrated – and they are really not sure how to care for themselves to overcome this turbulence.

And that’s because self-care is not just about what kind of products you put on your skin or how many miles you run each week. It’s about the way you talk to yourself. It’s about the quality and kindness of your inner dialogue. It’s about the way you design and perceive your career, your relationships, and your lifestyle.

So, in today’s blog, I’m going to teach you what it really means to practice self-care. I’ll start by giving you a practical, actionable, and easy-to-live-by definition of self-care. Then I’ll give you one of my favorite tools for creating a sustainable habit of self-care. This habit is so powerful that by itself, it has helped thousands of people go from feeling anxious and self-critical to feeling tremendously confidence and connected to the good things in life.

A Practical Definition of Self-Care

So, what exactly is self-care? Here’s my definition:

Self-care means treating yourself like you would treat your own 3-year-old child.

Now, I know many of my audience doesn’t have children – but stick with me here. Imagine for the next 2 minutes that you have a 3 years old, and that child is the most precious being you’ve ever laid eyes on. He (or she) is truly in love with life. He loves showing off his talents, he has an unlimited imagination, he isn’t concerned with money, productivity, or being cool, and he is endlessly curious about the world.

Think about how you would treat this child. 

  • How would you decide the activities he does throughout the day? 
  • What kind of home or other physical environments would you provide for him? 
  • What kind of people would you surround him with, and who would you keep away?
  •  How much would you let him sleep?
  •  What kind of food would you give him? 
  • How would you talk to him when he makes mistakes?

You would never let this child spend 8 to 10 hours of his day doing something he hates, would you? You would likely spend a good portion of your time doing things to try to make him laugh. You would probably only let this child eat food that is both nutritious and delicious, and make sure he gets plenty of sleep. And most importantly, you would speak to him with kindness and calm. Even if you get upset with the child, you would take a loving approach to help him understand what he’s done wrong.

In summary, when taking care of your 3-year-old child, you’d be paying close attention to his needs, and responding to them without judgment. Just letting the kid be who he or she is, and taking a holistic approach to making him happy.

So now, let’s go back to my definition of self-care. Remember what it is?

Self-care means treating yourself like you would treat your own 3-year-old child. 

When you look at it this way, I’ll bet you it’s pretty different than your current version of self-care. You see, we’re shifting the spectrum. Self-care is no longer a few activities sprinkled into your schedule whenever you find down time.

Instead, it’s your entire lifestyle. It’s the way you design your day. It’s all the things you put into your body, be it food or vibes or thoughts. It’s how you talk to yourself. It’s continually checking in with your needs. And it’s doing all this with acceptance and allowance – not making it conditional on a certain result.

That is real, true self-care.

Creating A Self-Care Habit


Now, this week, one of my clients was mapping out how she would treat her 3-year-old child, and how she treats herself. She noticed that the biggest difference between these two approaches is how she treats herself when she gets upset. When she gets sad, she tries to avoid the feeling. She covers it up. She gets annoyed or ashamed with herself, wishing she was stronger and that she didn’t feel that way. She refuses to accept herself in that moment, much less comfort herself. 

But when her 3-year-old child gets upset, she hugs him and comforts him. She soothes him with his favorite toy. She tells him she understands his pain, and that she’ll sit with him until he gets better.What a difference, huh? This discrepancy is actually the single most common self-care problem that my clients uncover. 

These moments when you’re down are really critical moments for your psychological and emotional well-being. In these moments you either discover your resilience and grow your wisdom, or start down a negative path of self-criticism, and maybe even turning to false comforts – food, drugs, alcohol – you name it.

 

Have you ever felt out of sync with your real self? Like you’ve hustled hard to follow all the guidelines you’ve been given for living a happy life, and yet some deeper part of you still feels rudderless or unfulfilled?

Well, this workbook will put an end to all your doubts and distresses. In it, I take you through the exact, step-by-step process I use with clients to create abundant clarity and joy in their lives.

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