Self-care is somewhat of a catchphrase at the moment, and rightly so. But sometimes I think that the idea of self-care and the associations that we have with it takes us further away from what it truly means to take care of ourselves. I realise that’s a little bit cryptic so let me explain what I mean…
If you say to the words “Self-care”, what comes to mind? Chances are it’s some version of slowing down and doing something for yourself. You might think of the “magazine versions” of self-care, such as taking a bath, reading a book or booking in for a massage. Or maybe carving out a chunk of time in your day to play with your horse or take some time out. What I’ve observed in my own life is that the idea of self-care can become another thing on your to-do list, another box to tick off, another thing that you aren’t managing to fit in to what is already a full day, week or month.
I don’t subscribe to any of that now.
Self-care to me is about, wherever possible, following the natural rhythms of my body and what it needs in the moment. It’s all well and good to take time out for an hour to do something nice for yourself (and don’t get me wrong, I’m all for this), but if you putting off going to the toilet, even though you’ve been busting for the last little while, routinely working late into the night even though you can hardly keep your eyes open, not having a drink when you are thirsty or eating when you are hungry, not letting your body move in ways it’s motivated too then you are missing the true essence of what it means to care for yourself.
Self-care is the foundation stone of following your instinct and intuition. It works on both a macro level- I need to eat or drink something, I need to rest, I need to move- and a micro level- I get a sense this situation isn’t right for me, I’m curious what would happen if I followed this hunch I have about this thing, I want to say no (or yes) to that request.
Many of us regularly tune out to the louder requests we receive from our body and then wonder how to become more sensitive riders and horse people; if the aim is to be more sensitive to our horses, we need to start being with being sensitive to ourselves.
Self-care is not time out. It is a state of being where we honor the requests of our body and wherever possible, move in flow with them.