Elizabeth Bishop is the creator of The Conscious Service Approach ™, which offers key tools and researched based principles to empower individuals to work through compassion fatigue and burnout by prioritizing their mental health for a renewed sense of energy.
Self-Care: Not just one more thing to add to your agenda
When it comes to taking care of ourselves, “balance” feels like a magic word—or maybe a magic goal. Too often, our longing for this quality in our lives puts us on a kind of quest. And too often, balance feels elusive, hanging at the end of some stick like a dangling delight, always stacked behind more pressing to-dos, and exhaustingly just out of our reach.
It doesn’t have to be this way. There’s another way to think about balance. Instead of a goal to be achieved at the end of a journey, what if we accepted it as a part of every moment, available to us whenever we need it?
Balance is a true in-the-moment experience. We can only genuinely know balance right here and right now. This present moment is also when we’re usually most painfully aware of when we’re lacking balance. So rather than rushing for our day planners to set up dates for future self-care, let’s look instead at how to take advantage of the opportunities we have for finding and enjoying balance in every moment of our day.
A connected way of being from the inside out
First, a truth that may be hard to hear: there is no catching up. Just start now. Let’s scrap the old ideas that have us chained to time and tasks, and tap more deeply into what our hearts, mind, body, and souls are really calling for.
Self-care isn’t supposed to be a task. Caring for who we are is a holistic practice. We are complex creatures, us humans, made up of a variety of what I like to call “channels” of being. These energetic channels include the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual realms of our being and experience. Each of these channels is continually offering us information and wisdom. These messages are available to us any time we choose to tune in. Self-connection means we’re tuned in to this wonderful and varied quality of our selves. Self-care practices involve learning to hear that inner wisdom and allowing it to affect what we do–not just once in the morning and again at the end of the day, but rather like an open-ended conversation that continues moment by moment. Instead of leading you to some future experience of balance in your life, this connection will start to balance who you are and how you show up.
The ultimate expression of love
Self-care starts with an attitude of self-compassion. It emerges organically when it’s grounded in an energy of self-love. Loving ourselves is a way of approaching our lives with generosity and grace. It’s made real in the ways that we treat ourselves, including how we speak to and about ourselves, and how we feel about ourselves.
Loving yourself includes big and dramatic moments like leaving unhealthy relationships or saying goodbye to soul-sucking jobs. More importantly, it can happen in the mundane, quiet, day-to-day moments of your life. This will help you step away from unhealthy, soul-sucking experiences much sooner.
You’re loving yourself when you take one extra moment to breathe, when you ask yourself what you need when you feel overwhelmed, or when you stop berating yourself when you’ve wobbled out of integrity. Loving yourself means letting yourself feel your feelings even when they’re hard. Loving yourself includes showing yourself a calm kindness that reminds you that you’ve got your own back. Loving yourself means honoring your passions, utilizing your greatness, and respecting your growth process. It means you show yourself the same compassion and curiosity you offer others.
Approach yourself with love and think of yourself with compassion. You’ll find that your actions will follow.
Yeah, but they need me. Isn’t self-care selfish?
No. Let me explain.
Authentic self-care is grounded in self-respect. I call it a self-filled and self-responsive approach to life. Caring for yourself is the epitome of personal responsibility and freedom. When we are self-responsive we become aware of our choices. Recognizing your opportunities to reframe thoughts, respond to emotions, redirect energy and focus, and remedy what ails you taps you into a power you may not have imagined was possible. This is personal mastery, and it is magical.
Don’t worry that you will become selfish, miserly, and cut off from other people. Instead, know that caring for yourself as an expression of self-love will organically spill over into your relationships, your projects, and your overall contributions.
Trust that you will continue to care for, love, and extend yourself for others because doing so is connected to your sense of joy and fulfillment. These things are directly linked to your overall sense of wellbeing.
Ask yourself every day and as often as possible, how can I love myself some more right now? Then respond to what you hear with a gracious heart.
Don’t wait for the weekend to shuffle the weights you’re carrying and find some kind of balance—if you do, you’ll always be teetering, always unsteady. Let every moment be a gift you receive and welcome. Start right now. Fall in love with loving yourself in ways that matter. You know what that means. And if you don’t, love yourself enough to find out.
This platform was inspired by a desire to be authentic and REAL about mental health and wellness, and it's all made possible by you. We love our Frenshe community of amazing individuals choosing to make healthier choices for better all-around wellbeing, and can't wait to continue growing with you.