Self-Care: Because You’re Worth It!

Anna M. Maynard

Many of us feel that we “should” be putting more effort into taking care of ourselves, but it simply is not a priority. Why? Many people, either consciously or unconsciously, don’t see themselves as worthy of their own care and effort. We may give selflessly to others, and perhaps “treat” ourselves to a momentary indulgence here and there, but how many of us really put in the effort to nourish ourselves on a deeper level so that we feel our best in the long term?

In order to achieve optimal wellbeing, self-care must be seen as a top priority. Unfortunately it’s not as easy as just knowing that we would benefit from putting more effort towards self-care. In the long-term, it must come from caring enough about yourself that you want to treat yourself as lovingly as possible. Imagine what it would be like if you were to treat yourself as you would a dear friend. For some of us it is uncomfortable even to think about this. We may think that self-love means being selfish or self-indulgent, but this simply is not true. The more we nourish ourselves, the more we are able to truly give to others.

So how do we move towards this aspiration of self-care?
With time, practice, and patience.

Start paying attention to negative self-talk. The way that many of us speak to ourselves in our own minds is nothing short of self-harassment. Having this near-constant, inescapable negativity is extremely stressful, whether we realize it or not. Most of us would never consider allowing another person to speak to us the way we speak to ourselves, and we certainly would not treat others in this way.

Life is difficult enough. We can’t control the way other people treat us, but we can learn to control the way we treat ourselves. We can learn to notice when we are thinking or acting in ways that are unkind, and we can make the choice to replace these thoughts and actions with more nourishing ones.

It may feel unnatural at first, but that’s perfectly okay. It makes sense that after thinking a certain way for so long, it will take some time and effort to start thinking differently. Just be patient with yourself and you will find that practicing self-kindness gets easier with time, eventually even becoming second nature.

Cultivating mindfulness through the regular practice of meditation is one way that has been proven to help individuals develop self-kindness, patience, awareness, and many other beneficial qualities.  Not only have these benefits been demonstrated repeatedly through scientific studies, people have been enriching their lives through meditation for thousands of years. Meditation does not refer to just one practice. There are many, varying forms of meditation, and it’s worth exploring which method works best for you. One particular type of meditation called Metta, or Lovingkindness, is particularly powerful for cultivating self-compassion and non-judgment.

I love helping people get started with meditation, and mindfulness is a huge part of the work I do. Soon I’ll have some of my own recordings available through the website, but for now, there are plenty of free resources online that you can check out! One of my favorite teachers, Mooji, has several meditations available on YouTube. Here’s one that I find particularly powerful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4zArI0uqWY

Check it out and see what you think! If this one doesn’t resonate with you, I encourage you to keep exploring. And check back here for guided meditations in the near-future!

 

*Photo by Anna M. Maynard

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