What do self-care and tough love have in common?

Contrary to popular belief, self-care is not all bubble baths & pedicures.

In fact, sometimes it looks more like tough love than self-doting!

While there’s nothing wrong with taking time to slow down, pamper ourselves and enjoy life, our society has somehow expanded this to mean that self-care means self-indulging–even when it’s at our long term detriment– as long as it makes us feel good in the moment.

But what good does it do to make us feel “better” now, if we’ll pay an even higher price later on? In reality, caring for our self involves seeing the bigger picture and caring for our whole self- both in the short-term and the long-term.

Self-care is often doing the things you don’t want to do, and not doing the things you do want to do! 

When I was in grad school, I would ramp up to each semester break by researching the books for my upcoming classes and have them ordered and delivered by the end of the current semester.  Then I’d knock out a book during the break.

One day a professor overheard me talking about this with a classmate and chided me for it. “You’ve got a heavy course load here. You need your breaks for self-care in between semesters!”  What he didn’t understand was that this was self-care.

The funny thing about self-care is that it’s self-determined and is different for everyone. While what would have been added stress for my professor was self-care for me. I knew that while I could spend my weeks resting (I did plenty of that too!) what really served me best was to do less school-work than normal, while reading at a lighter pace, to make the upcoming semester a little less heavy. I was able to enjoy what I was reading and digest it as though drinking from a sprinkler, rather than gulping it from a fire hose!

When we have a bad day (or week!) it’s easy to drown our sorrows in a pint of ice cream to make everything feel better in the moment.  But failing to care for ourselves in this way leads us to feel even more negative emotion later-when we feel nauseous, bloated and are full of regret.

So how do you incorporate a “self-care” routine that works for you?

1. Start with a check-up

Consider the areas of your life where you’re currently feeling the most stressed. Is it the start of the day? Meal-time? Weekends? Perhaps your family is all at home together 24/7 and by the end of the week, everyone is on their last nerve. Perhaps the Holidays produce an immense amount of stress each year, and feel like more hassle than joy.

2. Assess your basic needs

When you were running at your “best,” how were things different?  Maybe you were able to start your day off with a run, or you had some quiet time where you were all alone with your thoughts. Perhaps you constrained your spending and set money aside each month throughout the year, rather than feeling such a crunch at the end of the year.

Don’t overlook the tough-love self-love!

Are there things you know would be helpful for your overall well-being that you’re neglecting or avoiding? When we’re sick, we gravitate toward comfort food, despite the fact that what our body most needs is foods rich in vitamins and nutrients! Being the “adult” and forcing yourself to do what you need rather than what you want is likely the best form of self-love you can show yourself. Assess what you truly need rather than what you want.

3. Find a way to bring balance back-even if just in bite-sized pieces

If you recognize that you need to be home alone once in a while, see if you can come up with a plan to get everyone out of the house for a weekly outing.  Maybe your husband would be willing to take the kids for a walk, or you could designate a “quiet hour” where everyone heads to their rooms for one hour each week (or 15 minutes each night) so that you can enjoy sitting in the living room alone and uninterrupted!

Think outside the box!

If you knew there was a way to bring more balance to your life or reduce your stress, what would you try? Brainstorm a list of ideas. They may be some things that you’ve tried in the past, and some things you can’t imagine would work. But pick one and apply it to the best of your ability.  Often times small actions DO make a big difference!

One added perk of doing this work? Learning self-restraint (doing what we don’t want & not doing what we do want in the moment) will always pay off in the long run! It’s like resistance training.  Uncomfortable in the moment, this breaking down of muscle. But in time it will build you up stronger than before you started. Learn to think of what you need to be at your best and apply it-even when it means applying tough love in the moment!

With Grit & Grace-

If you’re new to Rise Coaching, welcome!  Take a look around and download my free tool to help you begin this work of managing your mind to help you create the life you were created for.  If you’re wondering if coaching could be that missing piece to help you reach your goals, click here to schedule a free consultation with me.

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