I’m talking about ‘self-care’ that overused cliched term that is bandied around social media in a ‘light a candle, pour yourself a bubble bath’ and all will be well kind of way. Does that irritate anyone else as much as it does me?

Whenever I ask clients what do they do to take care of themselves the answers come back as ‘walk the dog’, ‘have a massage’, ‘go to yoga’ and so on – we can all fill in the dots.

If I ask how much do you care about self-care I often get a very different response that alludes to self care as a should. There is often a sigh and a sense of ‘I know what it looks like and I know I should be doing it, but I don’t’.

Caring for self is a complex topic, so much of its roots and our relationship to it start in early life and how self care was modelled (or not) in our family or origin, by the adults around us. There is another layer of social narratives that contribute to our relationship to care of self such as ‘it’s lazy to rest’ and ‘a good mother is always thinking of her children’, or a ‘good father must provide’.

Another complexity is how care of the Self is valued in our organisations. Do they scream self-care and yet practice something very different? I often hear stories of the boss who says ‘you’re working too hard, make sure you leave on time a bit more often’ and that same boss sending emails at 2am.

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines self-care as:

The ability of individuals, families, and communities to promote health, prevent disease, maintain health, and cope with illness and disability with or without the support of a health-care provider.

https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/self-care-interventions/definitions/en/

It’s probably not what you expected to read and a far cry from a massage.

Care of Self is critical if we are in caring roles and need to give to others. You’ve heard the phrase ‘we can’t pour from an empty cup’, and yet how many of us keep on pouring?

Don’t get caught up in all the ‘shoulds’ around self care, instead look at your core relationship with care of yourself, ask ‘am I caring enough about care of Self’ start your exploration there.