You’re sat on a sun lounger beside the pool, one hand holding a Pina Colada, the other being expertly tended to by the resort’s manicurist. From behind your cucumber covered eyes you’re aware of the crashing of the waves onto the beach in front of you.
This is heaven.
This is self-care at its finest.
And…..back to real life!
There are a lot of repetitive self-care articles out there. Granted, they’re not quite so dramatic!
But they all advocate for much of the same thing — long hot baths, afternoons spent curled up with a good book and a cup of tea, long walks along the beach.
Not that I am in any way passing judgement on any of these self-care ideas. Heck, I’m all for a good pamper session from time to time!
There’s nothing wrong with the tips these articles suggest but the problem with most self-care ideas is, well, we’ve heard them all before!
- We know nature time is better for our health than screen time
- We know that all work and no play is a recipe for disaster
- We know that resting, rejuvenating, and recharging regularly is vital for our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing
We’re smart people so we don’t need another article like that.
Which is why I’m not going to give you one.
Instead, I want us to dive deeper and to explore 3 big self-care ideas that might change your life in a way that the humble cucumber slice just can’t.
Self-Care Idea #1: Build A Life You Love
“If you don’t make the time to work on creating the life you want, you’re eventually going to be forced to spend a LOT of time dealing with a life you DON’T want.” — Kevin Ngo
All the pool-side vacations in the world won’t make a difference if we don’t love the life that’s waiting for us when the holiday’s over.
Telling someone to focus on building a life they love can easily come across as one of those fluffy statements with no substance.
After all, we all want a life we love but how do we go about creating that?
Here are just a few ideas:
- Being prepared to do the things we least want to do in the short-term so that we can have a life we love in the long-term. So for me, that’s learning to stop the endless social media scrolling and nightly Netflix watching in favour of writing and working on my blog. If we’re able to focus on doing the things other people aren’t prepared to do then we’ll end up with a life few people have.
- Taking a long hard look at our failures, turning them into lessons, and using them to grow. For me, I almost gave up on this blog after two weeks. Yes…..TWO WEEKS! I made a few mistakes, a few things didn’t work out, and my first thought was that I should quit. Thankfully I didn’t. Instead, I’m learning how to see my failures as proof that I’m trying and to strategize ways in which I can use them to make me better.
- Developing grit. Building a life we love doesn’t come easily — the best things in life never do. The most amazing things that I’ve ever achieved — like packing up and moving to the other side of the world — have all been the result of years of hard work and planning. That’s what makes the achievement of our goals taste so sweet!
- Making time for those we love. A big part of the puzzle when it comes to building a life we love is other people. Taking the time to create memories with the people who infuse our lives with meaning and purpose is so important. Work will always be there. The people we love won’t. I can’t wait to head home to New Zealand for my first Kiwi Christmas in six years. I’ll be working hard until then but once I’m there I plan to enjoy every moment of those four weeks.
- Carving out time for adventure. This is the stuff life is made of! There is such a beautiful big wide world out there and we need to create plenty of space to enjoy it.
- Serve. Serve. Serve. One of the best ways to build a life we love is to always be striving to add value to the lives of others. To be of service. To give generously of ourselves. To find ways in which we can make a positive difference in the lives of those around us. Other-care is an important part of self-care.
Our lives are like beautiful oil paintings, the colours of our dreams and goals and the people and places we love, all swirling together to create a breathtakingly priceless masterpiece.
As far as self-care ideas go, building a life we love needs to be at the top of the list.
Self-Care Idea #2: Let Go Of The Old
“To reach up for the new, you must let go of the old. What lies behind you is not nearly as important as what lies in front of you. Everything you’ve been through was preparation for where you are right now.” — Joel Osteen
I know how hard it can be to let go sometimes.
I have been guilty in the past of holding onto things for way too long.
- Relationships that didn’t serve me
- Old conflicts
- Negative thoughts
Heavy things that I carried for far too long. Things that weighed me down and were toxic to my physical and mental health.
I’m still riding the ‘letting go’ bike with my trainer wheels on but slowly I’ve been turning to things like journaling, meditation, and my writing, to help me let go of things that no longer serve me.
I’ve realised that while letting go can be painful, it’s one of the most powerful self-care ideas out there. We can’t build a life we love until we learn how to create space for the new by giving up the old things we’ve outgrown.
It’s like holding onto every item of clothing we’ve ever owned and then wondering why we have no drawer or wardrobe space left for the clothes we’ve just bought!
All the mud wraps in the world can’t help us if we’re unwilling to release the many toxic habits and behaviours that we allow to poison our hearts, minds, and spirits on a daily basis.
Letting go is the ultimate self-care activity. It creates the space we need to learn, to grow, to welcome new relationships into our lives, to practice new, healthier ways of being in the world.
Self-Care Idea #3: Get Comfortable With Saying No
“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage — pleasantly, smilingly, nonapologetically — to say ‘no’ to other things. And the way to do that is by having a bigger ‘yes’ burning inside.” — Stephen Covey
I’m going to put my hand up right now and confess to you that I’m a reforming life-long people pleaser and so the word no has only recently made it into my vocabulary.
If you’re ahead of me on this front then make sure you leave a comment for me below on how you’ve got comfortable saying that tiny but oh-so-difficult two-letter word — trust me, I need all the tips you can give me!
I’m learning that my no is a lot more important than my yes to all areas of my health and well-being.
Always saying yes to other people means we are constantly saying no to ourselves.
- A yes to helping everyone else with their dreams and goals means a no to working on our own.
- A yes to helping at every school function, family reunion, backyard BBQ, is a no to time spent on the things that feed and nourish our heart and soul.
- A yes to that social function your friend has been pleading with us to accompany her to is a no to that night at home with our book that we want and need.
When it comes to self-care ideas, learning to get comfortable with saying no and disappointing people so that we’re not constantly disappointing ourselves, is probably one of the most important.
There will be times when we genuinely want to help out at that school function or cook up a storm for that family reunion but the most important word in this sentence is genuinely.
When we say yes to things we don’t want to do we end up feeling resentful and that’s a toxic emotion to have swirling around inside our bodies.
Self-care is about learning to tune in, honour, and attend to, our own needs so that we can better tune in, honour, and attend to, the needs of others.
Learning To Do Things Differently
I’m not saying that we should do away with the traditional self-care ideas.
That we give up the bubble baths and face-masks.
That we do away with afternoons curled up on the sofa with a good book and a cup of tea or long walks along the beach.
No, keep doing those things and keep doing them regularly because taking time to relax, to do things that feed our hearts and souls is vital for our health and well-being.
All I’m suggesting is that self-care goes deeper than a lot of the tips we see floating around today.
True self-care is all those tips plus so much more.
- It’s about building a life that we love. A life that energizes us. A life that we’re passionate about. A life that nourishes every part of who we are.
- It’s about letting go of toxic relationships, toxic emotions, toxic habits and behaviours. It’s about letting go of the things that are heavy and weigh us down.
- It’s about learning to say no to other people so that we can say yes to ourselves. It’s about being okay with disappointing other people so we’re not disappointing ourselves.
There’s only so much that the humble cucumber slice can achieve.
The rest is up to us.