Taking care of yourself has become a kind of social commandment or personal mantra. However, taking care of yourself is not about drinking detox smoothies and eating grilled or steamed vegetables. Nor is slaughtering the body in the gym or running to exhaustion to keep fit. Not even practicing yoga to relax and then return to the chaotic life of all time. Or indulge in an invigorating massage to release the tensions that will build up again next week. Taking care of yourself goes beyond all this.
What does it mean to take care of yourself?
Taking care of yourself is not about dedicating the time we have left, a few minutes at the end of a day full of duties and activities, but it must become our priority. It's not doing something healthy and relaxing when we're feeling sick or exhausted, but rather avoiding the internal and external pressures that lead us to bottom out emotionally.
Taking care of yourself therefore begins with a personal compromise for life. This commitment does not force us to exercise certain hours a week, to follow a healthy diet where every calorie is counted or to relax on the weekend to replace some of the energy we have wasted during the week.
It implies respect for ourselves. Respect our rhythms. That of our body and that of our mind. Be aware that sometimes we can't do everything, and that's okay. It is engaging in personal care and for our mental balance, not as an imposed obligation but as a real demonstration of self-love.
Taking care of yourself involves structuring our lives in such a way that we don't cause the urgent need to take a break because we are on the verge of collapse, or to disconnect from the world because we can't take it anymore. Then we can take a bath, have a tea or practice meditation as a preventive, not a healing activity.
Taking care of yourself means dealing with problems rather than letting them pile up until their weight ends up crushing us. It means facing what causes us anxiety and worries us, facing our fears and letting go of what hurts us before the pressure knocks us off balance.
Taking care of yourself means setting limits on toxic people. Be willing to let some people down and say goodbye to others. Say 'no' when we can't or just don't want to. Allowing us to be who we are, instead of exhausting ourselves by trying to please everyone at all times.
Taking care of yourself means accepting ourselves from compassion. Be proud of our lights, but also embrace our shadows. Accepting our failures and limitations without feeling that we are inferior for it. It means forgiving us for our mistakes. But also compromise to reach the best version of ourselves.
Taking care of yourself is letting go of all that we cannot change. It means not living clinging to the past and freeing ourselves from guilt which only adds unnecessary weight to our existence. It is saying goodbye to regrets and welcoming everything that is about to happen.
Taking care of yourself also means forgetting some of our goals to live more peacefully. It is realizing that we will not be able to achieve certain things and learn to live with them without suffering. It is accepting that we change and that things change, for better or for worse.
The three signs that we are not taking care of ourselves
1. We have to rest from our life. If we sometimes feel like we need a break from our life, we're probably not taking good care of ourselves. If our lifestyle wears us down and continually pushes us to the limit, we need to change something before it's too late.
2. Feeling like life goes by too fast. When we begin to feel that life is passing too fast, we need to stop and think. If every day turns into “Groundhog Day” (movie) and we have lost the ability to enjoy the little pleasures of life, it is a sign that we are too focused on our duties and are neglecting ourselves.
3. We have lost the meaning of life. Taking care of yourself, after all, consists in choosing a life that satisfies us. On the other hand, if we start looking to the future without illusions and feel that nothing we are doing makes sense, it is likely that we have strayed too far from our passions and have lost touch with ourselves.
We must keep in mind that taking care of ourselves does not mean following health trends or listening to the advice of a guru to solve our psychological chaos, but it means listening to ourselves. We need to reconnect with ourselves to know what our body and spirit need. Only then can we live the life we want, a life to truly enjoy, that is meaningful and a reflection of ourselves.