Let’s talk about self-care for a second. No, not the over-simplified, cliché, almost lost in meaning type of self-care that seems to diminish the actual sentiment of the word. Let’s talk about true and real self-care and what it means. Taking care of one’s self is a fundamental part of being able to grow, to learn, to live. This concept has been made into something that feels indulgent, self-absorbed, or “extra” is a larger issue within our culture, but it is not. The need to take care of ourselves is in fact very real, very necessary, and unfortunately, not very common.
The standards that are set for us in our culture and in this season of time have been overwhelming and astronomical. There is a pressure that we feel to multi-task, hustle, and have side hustles on top of our traditional workloads. We live in a fast paced world that celebrates being busy, overworked and overscheduled, to the point of demeaning those who attempt to approach life in any other way. It leads to an overwhelming amount of people being pushed to the breaking point, especially during times of turmoil, uncertainty, and overwhelm. We’ve seen this be devastating for many people in this past year.If there has ever been a time for us to look inward, to slow down, to understand what it truly means to take care of ourselves, the time has to be now.
Self-care can be as simple as it sounds: taking care of one’s self. These can be things like enjoying a hot bath, reading a book for pleasure, taking a walk; yes all of those things are self-care. Beyond that, understanding what it means to care for ourselves in a way that rejuvenates us, not just in those fleeting moments, but for a steady and long-term amount of time is where I hope to help bring some light to the picture.
We have all heard the old adage, “you can’t pour from an empty cup.” While this saying may be true, I’d like to invite us to discuss what exactly we are pouring from our cup. If we can think about ourselves not as a cup, but rather as a well, we can begin to understand how self-care in a long term aspect comes into play.
Emily Ley refers to wells in her novel “Grace not Perfection” in which she introduces a new metaphor to think of ourselves as a vessel. At points of overwhelm and burnout, our wells are empty. We can not gather anything of substance from them but dirt, which does nothing to replenish us. Invite some self-care items into play, and you are giving your well water. But that water is not enough. When we simply sprinkle in some self-care water here and there to a dry, dirt bottom well, we end up with mud. Thatmud does not replenish us either. We need consistent filling of our wells. And we need to fill it with water that is good, clean, and rejuvenates us.
In order to get a well filled with good water, we need to tend to ourselves on a regular basis. We do that with self care that is directed not just in the moment, but in long-term, repeated patterns. That tends to not only our needs in the direct moment, but to a deeper level of what fills us up with moments of contentment, peace, and even joy. We must take the time to work within the margins of our over scheduled, over crowded days and find small spaces where we are able to focus inward, tend to our souls that need a moment of rest, and fill our wells with good water.
There are many ways to fill our wells with good water. It could be waking up 30 minutes before the rest of your household to find quiet moments for yourself. You could practice a meditation, read, pray, or anything you feel brings rejuvenation.
It can be taking a five to ten minute break in between your day to feel the sunlight outside, to turn your phone on silent to not hear constant buzzing or pinging. These little moments of self care, when done consistently can add up to a well filled with good water. Then,when we are called to pour from our cup, we will know that what we are pouring is good, and better yet, how to fill our wells again to keep doing so.
Self care is not an additive. It is required of us to function and live a life that allows for moments of joy, feeling connected, and contentment. Self care is not selfish, and can no longer live at the bottom of to-do lists. Self care is essential, fundamental, and necessary for all of us. Let’s celebrate this more so that we can all feel what it means to be a well filled with good water.
Written by Nichole Bacigalupa, MA, NCC, CCMHC, LPC