Self-care as a way of life
Self-care has become kind of a buzzword of late, which tends to diminish and cloud it's meaning. The common image when you say self-care is a bubble bath and a glass of wine, or a spa day.
To see it through that lens portrays it as a hard-earned, rare indulgence, which not many have the time or money for. Often, it is reached for as a last resort, once we are already at the end of our rope.
Part of the problem is that taking care of ourselves is not valued in our culture. On the whole, being busy, over-extended, and tired, are seen as badges of honor. There is a connotation of self-care as selfish and self-indulgent.
This may be subtle and not totally conscious, but think about typical everyday exchanges...running into someone you haven't seen in awhile for example: "How are things with you?" "Good, busy! How about you?" "Yeah same here, so busy. Better than the alternative right?"
Do we ever say, "Not busy at all, it's great!" or "I'm getting plenty of sleep, and my schedule is manageable!"
So, part of the challenge is overcoming cultural and familial conditioning.
Another challenge is caring for ourselves enough to practice self-care! Being helpers/caregivers, having low self-esteem, past trauma, depression, or deriving our sense of worth from what we accomplish are some of the obstacles to our ability to care for ourselves.
But, what's the big deal? Why is it so important to practice self-care? Not just once in a while, but every day, every moment?
There are the more obvious reasons: better health and well-being, and less stress. But another important but overlooked benefit is developing self-trust and a felt sense of safety. Feeling safe is essential to healthy bodies, minds, and relationships.