Women are powerful creatures. All day, every day, we flawlessly change roles by the hour. From mom duties to being an employee, to keeping up with the house, to attending
a PTA meeting, cooking dinners, and more, we give, give, give of ourselves without thinking twice.
What happens when we give so much, we have nothing left? As women, we are notorious for neglecting our own needs in order to serve others - it’s just in our nature.
However, taking a step back to nurture yourself isn’t selfish, or self-indulgent. You aren’t a bad mom because you’re realizing you need time to take care of yourself, too. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
If you’re curious about self-care and want to know what benefits come along with doing the work, stay with me. We’re going to dive deep into what self-care is and what self-care isn’t, as well as talk about why it’s so vital for women's health.
What Is Self-Care?
When you hear the term self-care what comes to mind?
Maybe your mind automatically wanders to bubble baths, face masks, and a glass of wine.
While these things aren’t inherently bad -there is much more to self-care than an in-home spa day.
Self-care means doing things that take care of our minds, bodies, and souls. By engaging in activities that reduce stress and encourage a state of mental wellbeing, we are better able to serve those around us, while loving ourselves, too.
The Ladder Of Self-care:
Think of self-care as a ladder. In order to reach the next rung, you have to get through the first. Jumping in too quickly without a proper foundation is risky and can do more harm than good.
Level 1: This is the most basic level of self-care. This type of self-care is what you see all over Instagram and Pinterest. Examples of basic self-care include, but are not limited to:
Long bubble baths
Manicures / pedicures
Splurging on yourself
Level 2: The next level of self-care involves more inner work, focused on regulating your flight or fight response in daily life. When this becomes balanced, we feel more levelheaded to make better decisions, and aren’t constantly in a state of reactiveness. This could be activities such as:
Level 3: The third level of self-care takes a look at your inner self and focuses on understanding it better. When we get in touch with our authentic self and stop running from it, we can lay a solid foundation for more intensive inner healing. This level includes things such as:
Finding your ‘why’
Understanding negative self-talk
Uncovering limiting beliefs
Level 4: The fourth, and most intensive level of self-care takes a deep dive into truly transformational healing. When we get to this level, we may be resistant to engage in some of these practices, as they are often uncomfortable in the moment. However, if we let ourselves experience them fully, the healing that comes along is life changing:
Inner child work
Setting healthy boundaries
Learning our triggers
Letting go of attachments
Women have many different needs and often have multiple areas of their life they’ve neglected for far too long. While self-care can certainly look like taking a personal day to rest and recharge, it can be a long-term journey focused on healing from the inside out.
Top 4 Benefits Of Self-care For Women:
There are many benefits that come along with practicing self-care on a consistent basis. For many women, it’s the only time all day we can sit and focus on ourselves and nobody else. Taking time to just pause and center ourselves is incredibly therapeutic. Let’s take a look at the top 3 benefits of self-care for women:
Self-care Stops Negative Habits:
The chronic stress women face wreaks havoc on our mental and physical health. When we choose to take a step back and redirect our focus on ourselves, rather than others demands, we stop the cycle of ‘numbing activities’ to get through the day.
These activities may look like binging on junk food, sitting in front of a screen, or drinking alcohol simply to escape the pressures of life. These activities may seem to help at the moment but often cause higher rates of mental illness, physical sickness, sleep disturbances, and an overall unhappy life.
Self-care Gives Us a Mood Boost:
Part of self-care means doing things that make you happy. This can mean relaxing with a good book at the end of the day or going for a walk in the morning. These activities release neurotransmitters that ultimately give you a boost of happiness and contentment. Not only this, but self-care is also a phenomenal way to reduce stress and regulate difficult emotions.
The core of self-care is personal compassion and acceptance. When we begin to create a relationship within ourselves of love and nourishment, we shift our perspective completely.
Self-care Allows Us To Heal:
Many times, our lives are a direct reflection of unhealed wounds from our past.
Are you constantly in a state of stress and chaos? You may be suffering from an anxious attachment style developed in childhood.
Perhaps you have a difficult time setting boundaries, and you find yourself unable to say no to others. This may be due to a deep-rooted feeling of inadequacy.
Whatever the reason, unhealed trauma and wounds from the past often manifest into our adult lives. When we set aside time to work on resolving our inner hurts, we are better able to identify our triggers, develop healthier coping methods, and regulate our mental health.
Self-care Leads To Self-Compassion:
When we practice self-care, we nurture our sense of self compassion.
Self-compassion simply means giving the same level of kindness and empathy to ourselves, that we’d give to a close friend. Self-compassion is the root of self-care as it entails being warm and understanding to ourselves when we’re in pain or feel inadequate.
There are three main elements to self-compassion:
Mindfulness: Practicing mindfulness helps us keep our emotions balanced. The end goal is to create a mindset in which no emotions are repressed, or overexaggerated. Mindfulness is a state of mind that views challenges and feelings as they are, rather than trying to ignore or run from them.
Self-Kindness: Instead of mercilessly judging ourselves, self-kindness reflects the idea that no human being is perfect. Experiencing failure and difficulties is inevitable. Being gentle with yourself instead of getting angry helps retrain the way your brain views yourself during harsh situations.
Common Humanity: All human beings suffer. All human beings experience failure and fall short at times. Recognizing that mistakes and pain are a shared human experience helps shift our perspective from “I” to “we”.
You’re Meant To Live - Not Just Exist!
Every person on the planet deserves to live a life that is balanced, healthy, and focuses on both themselves and others. As women, we have an inherent need to take care of those around us. It’s part of what makes women so special. When we spend too much time doing so, though, we end up neglecting our own needs and spreading ourselves too thin.
Take even 10 minutes a day to care for yourself. A quick morning meditation, a jog around the block, or reflective journaling can all slowly but surely set yourself on a path to filling your cup back up.