Supporting and nurturing your own health and well-being is known as self-care. But when you pursue self-care without self-compassion you end up with another rod for your own back.
Our to-do lists heave under the weight of the “shoulds” placed on us by society and by our inner-critic. Every “should” that we take on adds to the weight of expectation that we set for ourselves, each one making the goal of self-care harder.
“I should meditate more”. “I should exercise more“. “I should eat more of this and less of that“.
We beat ourselves up not spending more time at work, at home, with the kids, or with our partner.
The “shoulds” go on and on.
Self-care can include many things and can take on many forms. Sometimes it will look like disciplined exercise and healthy eating habits, other times it will look like cocooning on the couch with a hot tea and fluffy socks on.
Gentle, kind, and genuine self-care requires an approach that is embedded in self-compassion: one in which you know what you need in the moment and permission to do that.
This isn’t a free pass to let loose on your healthy habits. I wager you will still want to maintain your healthy habits, not because you ‘should’ but because you value the goodness that they bring to you over the longer-term. But there is still room for you to adjust or drop your regime for a moment if your body is needing something else.
The rub with this more flexible approach to self-care is that it takes away the structured rule book. It requires us to get quiet and listen to what we really need moment to moment. And in a fast-paced world where hard work and exhaustion are still seen as status symbols, I don’t underestimate the challenge this presents.
But throwing out the rule book also means letting go of the harsh criticism we lay upon ourselves when it comes to self-care. Self-care isn’t punitive, it’s kind.
So I leave you with a question - does your self-care routine leave you feeling guilty or nurtured?