What Self-Care Really Means – It’s Not All About Breakfasts In Bed Or Visits To A Spa
What comes to mind for you when you hear the term ‘Self-care Sunday’? For most of us, we instantly think about something nice we can do for ourselves. Easy breakfast in bed, a long walk along the beach, a bath with essential oils, or a visit to a spa… All of the above are such nice self-care ideas, right?
But sometimes the outcomes of our best ideas and intentions are far from what we had expected.
Let me share an example.
My client Aga got a voucher for a spa treatment for her birthday (yes, it was in the pre-covid era!). A perfect self-care gift for a perfect self-care day, right? Aga is a full of energy mum of 3 teenagers in her late 40s. She (just like so many of us…) has a strong tendency to over-do, over-work, over-give, over-worry, over-please others and so on and so on. As you can see she’s someone in desperate need of good quality self-care and a voucher to a spa.
So, what does Aga do with this birthday gift? First, she waits for ages to make the appointment. It seems like there’s no good time to take a few hours on a Sunday just for herself. There’s always plenty of more important things to do. Finally, she decides to choose a date and book the appointment (mainly because the expiration date is close and she doesn’t want to appear ungrateful to the person who gave her the voucher.)
Self-Care Sunday Shouldn’t Feel Like A Chore…
So, the ‘self-care Sunday’ comes and she wakes up feeling tense and stressed out. It feels like the timing is just terrible. In her head, she runs through all the things she should do today rather than going to the spa. Her husband expects her to help him in the garden, her daughter needs a lift to meet her friend and she wanted to do some shopping with her mum.
She gets up just to find out that her husband completely forgot that she is going out and (of course) gets quite moody when she reminds him. Her daughter snaps at her and goes to her room.
Torn inside, she tells them she’ll back as soon as possible. Withholding tears as her husband makes some sarcastic remarks about spas in general, she gets into the car feeling terribly guilty and just furious at the same time.
She arrives at the place half an hour late, hurries her massage therapist, sits in the sauna giving it to herself both for coming here and for not being able to enjoy it, keeps checking the time and runs back home as soon as possible to attend to everyone else’s needs.
How ‘self-caring’ do you think this Sunday was?
I’d say not much.
The Reasons So Many Women Struggle With The Concept Of ‘Self-Care Sunday’
But is this example far detached from what happens on your one self-care Sundays?
Have you ever gone for a long stroll along the beach only to ruminate on your life and how mostly nasty and miserable it is?
Or maybe you decided to treat yourself with a piece of chocolate cake and was sucked into a spiral of guilt and shame after the first few bites?
Have you ever jumped into the bathtub full of essential oils for an hour of relaxation and then spent the time scrolling down through FB?
Or maybe you said ‘no’ to someone so that you can do something you really wanted to do but then your guilt spoiled all the pleasure?
We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
Adopting A New Self-Care Approach
True self-care (and self-love) is not so much about what we do. And it’s so much more than eating your veggies, doing your workouts, taking nice baths and using your spa vouchers (although all this has its place, too).
True and authentic self-care is not so much about what you do but rather how you do it.
It is always about the way you treat yourself, no matter what you are doing at the moment. The way you think about yourself, the way you talk to yourself, and the way you prioritize yourself when others come into play.
Today, I would like to invite you to play and experiment with HOW you can start doing things differently and create a new, much more nourishing version of a self-care Sunday.
Here are 3 simple but life-changing habits you can start practicing straight away to make this gentle but very radical shift in how you take care of yourself.
Spend Your Sundays Being Fully Present
- Slow down and do just one thing at a time.
I know multitasking is probably your middle name. Your second nature, so to say. Or maybe even first. I know it seems unavoidable in the fast pace of our lives. There’s so much you need to fit into your day.
Handy as it is, if you overuse this skill, it puts a lot of pressure on your nervous system and often keeps you stuck in fight/flight /freeze response. Or what happens most often, on the verge of this protection/defense mode. It seems ‘all is grand’ but you live with a low-intensity, constant sense of tension and vigilance that doesn’t allow you to relax fully.
If you live in that space for a long time, a lot of not-so-nice things happen as a result. It may lead to increased appetite, memory problems, sleeping difficulties, and unfortunately, it can seriously mess up your whole hormonal system.
Multitasking also gets in the way of your relationships with people you care most about. You can’t be fully engaged in a conversation and scroll through FB or think about what to put on your shopping list at the same time.
And it often gets in the way of your relationship with YOURSELF. No way you can hear what your body, mind, or heart is calling for if you keep yourself busy and rush from one thing to another all day long.
As with everything else, it a question of BALANCE.
There are moments when multitasking can save your day.
But… your body, mind, heart, and soul will benefit GREATLY if you also find a few moments during the day (or a few days during the month) when you can fully focus on one activity only. And a self-care Sunday is just perfect for that!
So whatever you choose to do – cook your Sunday dinner, read a book, talk to your friend or walk in the park -try to forget about everything else, switch off all the distractions and be fully present with what you are doing in the moment.
When talking to your friend or child, forget about yourself and focus fully on what the other person is saying. Without assumptions or judgments, just with curiosity.
Connect to your breath, to the sensations in the body, to the sounds you can hear around and just… BE.
Simply Allow Your Day To Unfold
2. Be gentle with yourself – speak kindly, listen attentively, embrace yourself just where you are today.
If you truly listened to what’s going on in your head for one full day (Sunday or not) – you might get quite surprised. It can be really shocking to realize how much judgment, harsh criticism, belittling and demeaning in going on in our minds most of the time.
Apart from this, there’s this constant pressure to try harder, push through, make more effort, be better, do better, achieve more.
If you were to spend a week of your life with a real person behaving like this – I’m sure you would try to get them out of your life as soon as possible. Yet you not only keep tolerating this bullying going on inside but also often think that you deserve it.
This Sunday let’s try something completely different!
Soften your energy.
Let go of all the struggle and effort.
Let go of all of the judgments, criticism, and nastiness.
Let go of your need for things to be different.
Make it a day of ‘It’s oks’.
It’s ok for me to enjoy this Sunday; It’s ok to do something nice for myself; It’s ok to have fun’
But also (or even especially):
It’s ok for me to feel tired; It’s ok for me to feel sad or anxious; It’s ok for things not to work out as I expected; It’s ok for other people to be just the way they are (even if I dont like it…); It’s ok for the weather to be miserable.’
Whatever you do, whatever you feel, whatever is going on around – even if it’s not very nice or pleasant – for one short day, don’t fight, don’t resist, just take it as it is.
The Best Gratitude Practice for Your Self-Care Sundays
3. Practice radical gratitude – ‘thank you’ practice
Where attention goes, energy flows. Practicing gratitude is one of the easiest and most powerful ways to practice self-care and self-love as well as inviting more peace and joy into your life.
If you feel stressed or tense most of the time your mind functions on high alert and tends to focus on negatives only. As a result, we often see ourselves, other people, and the world around as if through dark and gloomy glasses, which filter out most of the color, pleasure and goodness our world is full of. Gratitude is a perfect antidote for that.
This is one of my favorite gratitude practices. Simple and easy but creating a deep shift in how you see yourself and the world around you. It is the practice of saying ‘thank you’ as many times as you can during the day.
No extra time or effort necessary – as you go about your Sunday, notice little things that you normally take for granted that you can be authentically grateful for. Even in the middle of the most miserable circumstances, there are things that are good, beautiful, and precious.
Notice them, say ‘thank you’ and take a moment to feel the warm appreciation in your heart. This is the most important part – the feeling of gratitude that fills your whole body.
Thank you for waking up in a warm bed, thank you for my morning coffee, thank you for sunshine, thank you for rain. Thank you body – for the fact that I am able to see, hear, smell, pet my dog or cat or hug a loved one. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Self-Care Sundays – A New Approach To Creating Space For Self-Love
I promise you, a self-care Sunday like this will make all the difference.
So whatever your plans are for this coming Sunday, there’s no need to change anything. You can go on with your day as planned. But try to make these 3 small but powerful shifts:
-slow down and do just one thing at a time with full focus and attention,
-choose to be kind, accepting and compassionate to yourself no matter what the situation is -find reasons, over and over again, to say ‘thank you’ and take time to feel warm appreciation in your heart.
If you do this, you will get a glimpse into what true self-care and self-love can do for you. For your physical health, for your emotional resilience, for your peace of mind , for your energy levels, and also for your relationships. And all the ‘self-care’ things you are already used to doing will get a new depth and potential.
Ready to expand these life-transforming habits beyond Sundays? Let’s talk. Book a free Discovery Session and we will create together a roadmap to your own Self-Care Revolution.