by Angie Miller
If not, here’s why you should be...
Did you know that learning to be selfish is a selfless act? While we may have been taught or conditioned to believe otherwise, learning to be selfish, as in self-care driven, is an act of love to ourselves, and in turn to those we care most about.
We don’t always want to admit it, but there’s only so much of you and me to go around. If we keep giving without replenishing, we’re left with nothing but an empty bucket, tired, exhausted, and frustrated, wondering how good intentions could lead to negative outcomes. When we learn to practice self-care, we listen and attend to our mind, body, and emotions.
Maybe it’s age, experience, or the lessons I’ve learned from not creating healthy boundaries, but I’m finally starting to understand the importance of self-care. For women especially, it can be tempting to put our personal needs aside, but ultimately we can’t give away what we don’t have. By practicing self-care, it turns out the payoff is exactly what we want. It gives us the extra reserves needed to be available and give to others. Not just in body, but in spirit. With a generous heart and not a tinge of resentment. For those of us who love deeply and care unconditionally, isn’t that our goal?
Here are three tips for self-care, two that require nothing more than a shift in thinking that can have an incredible impact on our everyday life.
Three Simple Steps to Self-Care:
- Learn to say no. No is a powerful word, and it’s a tough one to learn. After all, yes shows that we’re cooperative and caring, and responsive to the needs of others, right? Yet in reality, when we say yes to others we’re saying no to ourselves, and maybe even to those we love and care about. Consider this: If I say yes to that opportunity at work, I say no to having any free time to do what I love, or to spending more time with family and friends. A yes to someone else is a no to us, and after a while that can take its toll. There’s no doubt that no is a more direct word and it may be difficult for others to accept, but usually those are people who will readily drain our energy and absorb more than their fair share of our time. Saying no, is saying yes to self-respect. That’s a win-win for everyone.
- Establish boundaries. Boundaries are like a line in the sand and they send a powerful message. With boundaries we know what we’ll give, and what we’ll accept, and we don’t cross the line. If we do it comes at a great cost. It undermines our value, and it creates frustration and self-doubt when we forget to be true to what we know is in our best interests. Safe, healthy boundaries serve as personal protection. Our mission is clear and others know where we stand, therefore we can be trusted to be consistent vs. unpredictable. Bottom line, boundaries are critical to self-care. When we don’t have limits, life can take its toll.
- Create a Personal Space. Diana Chapman, a renowned speaker and author, suggests that each of us has gifts, talents, dreams, and desires that are unique and special. In order to “be a good servant” to our gifts, she suggests that we create a space to nurture them and allow them to flourish. I created such a space in my own home, a small room that no one uses, where I set up candles, fluffy pillows, and soft lighting to make it warm and inviting. It’s clean, clutter free, and personal. The key is to find a space where we can check in with ourselves and check out from the world; where we feel safe and protected, and we have the energy needed to nourish our gifts.
Best to you in self-care and safe boundaries.
Angie Miller, M.S., is a fitness educator, university instructor, and Licensed Professional Counselor who blends her skills and expertise to empower individuals, mentally and physically, and provide them the tools they need to succeed. A veteran group exercise instructor and personal trainer, Angie is the star of acclaimed exercise DVD’s, including the Bedroom Body™ workout. Her passion for progressive education brought her to Northern Illinois University, where she teaches in the Dept. of Kinesiology & Physical Education. Outside of the university, she presents at fitness conventions worldwide and leads industry trainings as an AFAA Certification Specialist and Kettlebell Concepts Master Instructor. Angie writes for fitness journals and digital communities, and blogs for Collage Video. Connect with Angie at: http://www.angiemillerfitness.com