What’s your version of self-care? A regimented skincare routine, no phone after a certain time, daily runs, and yoga? All of those answers are great ones.
But truthfully, self-care can’t be narrowed down to one specific practice. And newsflash! You’re allowed to change it up!
In light of our 2020 pandemic and subsequent lockdown, I think we’ve all realized just how much care we need (and deserve) to live our best life. It’s important to note that one pilates workout or self-help book isn’t the key to healing our whole selves.
It’s important to note that one pilates workout or self-help book isn’t the key to healing our whole selves.
And there are chapters in our lives that may require more self-care than others…
Before getting pregnant, I got a team of therapists, nutritionists, and coaches to guide me through this new phase of physical and mental transformation.
I craved feeling like my best self on the cellular level, which meant making some serious decisions to change my life.
But my health is more than the number I see on a scale, going to weekly therapy or my blood pressure results.
It’s about aligning my values with my goals to make the most empowered decisions I can with the resources available to me.
And it’s ongoing.
This exciting time in my life has encouraged me to deep dive into what self-care really is.
Not just base it on how often I get myself on the Peloton or how much sugar I’ve had in a 24-hour period.
But what boundaries I should uphold, my non-negotiables, and the outlets that nurture every facet of my being.
This has been particularly important as I envisioned stepping away from work for a bit to focus on our new baby.
In fact, it has been a huge identity shift, practice in self-love, and recalibration of what is actually important to me.
I had to get used to the idea that things outside of my job were just as (if not more) important.
And make that conscious decision that at least for a bit, achievement wasn’t the main goal. (And maybe it never will be again!)
And of course, still make the decision to not get lost in the process. I’m conscious of how much I devote to that little being…and I’m reminding myself that I too, need to be taken care of.
That’s why today I want to take the plunge into self-care as not just a trend, but a lifelong practice. One with ups and downs and ebbs and flows.
What Is It and Why Is It Important?
Influencers, coaches, and entrepreneurs alike post about the importance of self-care as much as possible. Don’t you see it all over social media? I know I do!
But let’s be real, snapping a selfie in a robe and face mask from the brand you’re sponsored by isn’t going to heal your deeply-rooted fear of failure or limiting beliefs.
What self-care actually means is the practice of preserving your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. It’s a mindful, empowering decision to improve your overall health.
It’s an active role you have the responsibility of taking on to protect your peace, happiness, and autonomy. In reality, self-care is more than just a choice or social media hashtag.
It’s a lifestyle that encompasses self-forgiveness, accountability, and abundant healing.
Self-care includes every individual step you can take to make your life an aligned one. And everybody’s journey with it is unique! So what is and what isn’t your version of self-care may not look the exact same as someone else you know. My self-care routine doesn’t look the same as my husband’s or client’s, and that is okay.
If there’s one golden rule to navigating self-care, it’s this: focus on what brings you sustainable and genuine joy in the long run.
Aside from the obvious benefits, self-care invites us to reflect on the deeper meaning of our lives. Not only does it help foster resilience and manage stress, but it gets you to deeper connect with who you are. What you value, what you want to make time for, and what you love.
Self-care is the practice you need to make your life a meaningful and well-rounded one…and it shouldn’t feel like an obligation.
What Does Real Self-Care Look Like?
There are many self-care practices you can adapt to suit your desires and needs. As someone who knew of self-care for so long, I’m still learning how to best practice it (I’m only human after all)! One important factor in your self-care routine (that I’ve come to appreciate myself) is how it aligns with your current state.
If you’re feeling uninspired, then it’s your creative well-being that needs a boost. But if you’re feeling chronically fatigued and uncomfortable in your own skin, that’s a whole other ballgame! There’s no one kind of self-care— but that’s what makes it so inspiring.
For some of us, that’s going to the spa. For others, it’s a team of experts and support. For some, it’s no scrolling on social media or no tech after a certain time of day.
Self-care is so crucial to us as human beings because it’s so multi-faceted. Much like us, there’s an infinite amount of tiny moving parts all working together to fuel one life force. And the results can be surprising and more than just health or energy related…
In fact, one of our former clients shared this massive reflection with me about her own self-care journey that I felt compelled to share:
Today I’m celebrating a massive shift from a call with Emily Williams. She asked me when I was making the most money and I realized it was when I was at my very best. I had just landed my first COO position for a growing practice that I was hired to help expand across NC.
When I landed the position, I received my highest salary ever. It was when I was treating myself the best! I was running most days, doing half marathons, eating the healthiest, getting my hair done every 2 weeks, my nails monthly and I was dressing cute everyday. I was treating myself like a Queen (as Emily put it). I wasn’t putting myself last.
My significant other was helping more because I was focusing on me and my health. It was truly when I was at my happiest. I don’t do that now. I’ve put my family first, my business first and I’m picking up the crumbs of what’s left over and telling myself it’s just for a season.
That changes today!! I might not be able to go all in, but I can do small things that will allow me to feel good about myself and my appearance. I have my recipe for success.
This woman is tackling so much at once, and she’s recognizing that many things have shifted. I find it incredible that she gently reminds herself that she possesses the power to make the changes she needs, and understands that her shift in focus is purposeful.
But you want to know what’s even more amazing? She forgave herself. I think so often we are critical of ourselves for not being perfect all the time. For not showing up each and every day with the same energy and outlook.
Should that be the grounds for restricting yourself, overworking, and not resting? Absolutely not. If anything, you should be honoring that very human part of yourself!
When we experience stress and chaos, it’s easy to go into survival mode. In the end, that only drains us more. So when it comes to discovering what self-care should look like, I believe the first step is this: reflect on what feels abundant and what feels scarce.
Ask yourself: What do I need to feel taken care of?
Your self-care should look like a mindful embodiment of your deepest, most important needs. And guess what? That practice will evolve and change— just like you.
Self-Care for Driven Women
Everyone can benefit from self-care — especially the high-impact high-achievers! (Raises hand!)
For me, self-care has become an outlet to explore my whole self. As a CEO, it’s easy for me to get caught up in the chaotic nature of everyday life. Tackling every goal and task is no easy feat, especially when I’m trying to balance every other aspect of my life.
I’m not excused from self-care just because I run a business. If anything, it’s even more essential.
Think about the world’s best athletes; their rest and recovery is just as important as training for the event, game or race.
Entrepreneurs, for example, pursue their paths because of the freedom and fulfillment it offers— but that doesn’t come without a little effort.
How do I make myself a priority as an ambitious woman? Here’s how:
- Creating “me time” in my everyday schedule: Leaning into my desires is one of my favorite ways to feel taken care of. That may look like a spa day, time with friends, or my therapy sessions or just five minutes on my own to breathe. I am the focal point of all these amazing things happening, which means taking a step back and focusing on myself.
It’s important to do things for yourself regularly. That allows you to replenish your energy and keep the momentum continuous.
- Investing in meaningful relationships: Who I surround myself with is just as important as the alone time! James and I have done our work as a couple and continue to make our bond a priority. But outside my marriage, it’s crucial I welcome people aligned with my values into my space.
Self-care doesn’t have to be isolating. So don’t turn away from the company if you’re being called to do this with someone; it may be the support system you need to make it through the tough times!
- Make sleep and rest a priority: We all have the same twenty-four hours in a day. And how we choose to maximize them is up to us! If you know me, you know I’ve talked about how James and I will sleep in separate beds to regulate our sleep cycles during retreats or hectic business times. We’ve done the same thing during pregnancy.
Rest is crucial for our mental and physical health, so don’t deprive yourself of that basic necessity for the sake of completing a task! You’ll perform and show up much more authentically if you pace yourself, believe me.
- Be Present: It’s easy to overwhelm yourself with the hypotheticals, and what’s supposed to come next. I myself used to be a victim of that cycle. But NOW, I like to move leisurely and appreciate what’s happening in my life! James and I even planned extra days before and after our Bora Bora retreat to maximize the experience I’ve been dreaming about for years!
A great way to be more attuned to the moment is to acknowledge how it aligns with you. What values does this experience embody, what are you learning about yourself? What does this inspire in you? Don’t be afraid to stop and smell the roses (or crystal blue seawater in my case)!
- Learning to say no: I pride myself on building meaningful experiences for my clients. However, there’s only so much I can accomplish before I become drained. Which is why I find it essential to create my own non-negotiable boundaries!
Non-negotiables are things you do not compromise on, specifically in daily life. It can be a workout class, an hour of no technology, or a walk around the neighborhood. The point of non-negotiables is to honor the intentions you put out for your life— and claim them as yours.
Self-care isn’t meant to be trendy or materialistic. It’s designed to uplift your spirit, keep you grounded, and align you with the best version of yourself!
The easiest thing to do if you’re new to this is pick one thing that feels good. Maybe this post brought up some ideas, but if not, pay attention to what activities elevate your mood and give yourself permission to do more of that.
P.S. One of the ways we support women in the IHML Community is through putting their mental and physical well-being first in the IHML Membership. We have guest experts every month on a variety of different topics that will support you in creating your self-care routine and learning to put YOU first. Check it out here.