One of the most powerful things I have read lately has also been one of the most simple…
“Healthy people are mindful of self-care”- Stephanie Spence (from her book Yoga Wisdom)
At face value, this seems like a comment one might shrug off. However, look a little deeper and unpack the words and this simple comment means much more. Stephanie doesn’t say “healthy people practice self-care” or “healthy people take time for self-care”, instead she uses the word ‘mindful’ which means to be consciously aware of your self-care in the present moment, to really tune into your own body and to be willing to change your behaviour based on this feedback. How many of us mindlessly choose the things we label as self-care. Self-care is defined as the practice of taking an active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness. The key to self-care is about truly listening to what our bodies need in the present moment. It’s NOT about never missing a workout session or always choosing the salad. The word mindful is slightly misleading as sometimes we must put aside the ‘mind chatter’ to unearth what the body is asking for, to take a moment to check-in and listen, take notice and act accordingly. It highlights the need to be flexible about our choices for ourselves. As a busy mum I often find myself making choices based on habit, sometimes after a day of making choices in the best interests of my two kids, analysing my own choices for self-care seems in the ‘too hard basket’. The mental load of motherhood takes its toll and I revert to habitual choices. However, tapping into what my body needs in the present moment would be a worthwhile choice
Why is it that most of us would walk through fire for our loved ones, stay up til midnight making our kid’s halloween costume, crawl out of bed while full of flu to make the family breakfast, drive out of our way to pick up a friend so they don’t have to catch the bus… and the list goes on. However, if you really analyse your own internal monologue, what does it say? Are you as kind to yourself as you would be to a loved one or are you a hard task master? Because taking care of ourselves is synonymous to taking care of our family. No-one can take care of your family like you, so if you burn out your family will suffer.
It’s about doing less of what we feel we ‘should’ do and more of what we truly need. “Healthy” people are mindful of self-care, it’s not about body shape or weight or fitness or muscle density or fat percentage it’s about health, mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. On any given day one or more of these aspects of ourselves may need more attention and we need to recognise that a ‘healthy’ choice for our spirit may look different to a ‘healthy’ choice for our physical body. We need to give ourselves permission to make the choices our bodies need and not label actions as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘naughty’ or ‘nice’. Any decision made in a mindful manner is a great choice, anything we actively choose to lift our spirits, cleanse our emotions, inspire our minds or use our beautiful bodies is our prerogative and a perfectly healthful decision.