If self-care feels like a chore, you’re not alone
Given the media clichés of women lounging in fluffy towels, stopping to grab a coffee with girlfriends, or getting ready for “date night”, you might be surprised how many of us struggle to connect with the idea of taking even a few minutes of time out just for us.
In our recent interview with Sarah Jane Volkers, a graduate of our Lead the Change program, she shared that before finding One of many “I was shocked (can you believe this?) at the idea that you might buy yourself a cup of coffee when you were out shopping – you know, just rock up and take 5 minutes to yourself without anyone else to treat or talk to!”
But self-care isn’t necessarily what you think. To understand why, it’s time to introduce an important Women’s PowerType™ – The Lover.
The Lover and self-care
At One of many we use 5 powerful female archetypes to support our holistic approach to leadership. One that many successful women struggle to connect with is The Lover.
If your Lover PowerType is under-expressed, you might find that life feels like an endless round of rules, discipline and obligations. It might even seem as though your days are “grey” or “monotone”, made up of tasks to be achieved and crises to be dealt with. Relationships, especially intimate ones, can feel stagnant or stuck and taking care of yourself or experiencing pleasure probably falls even lower on the priority list.
We often assume that stepping into our “Lover” means reconnecting to our partners, but the foundation of Lover is in your own experience.
It’s the PowerType that allows you to take care of yourself, and experience the fullest joys of life. The Lover finds pleasure in every sense, whether it’s a delicious scent, an exquisite meal or a piece of music that transports her to a different time.
So learning to embrace The Lover is the perfect way to discover your unique path to self-care. It might have nothing to do with the clichés you’ve seen… or you might find that, as you learn to connect to yourself, you surprise yourself with activities you’ve previously sneered at.
Remember, keeping an open mind is vital. When we’re running in “Superwoman” mode we often switch off from the parts of ourselves that aren’t harnessed to our productivity. So even if it feels silly at first, try building some of these suggestions into your daily or weekly routine, and what subtle differences you start to notice.
5 ways to love yourself when self care feels like a chore
1. Find the music that lifts your heart
Music is an incredibly powerful tool to change your emotional state and allow you to connect to different feelings. In just a few minutes, you can start to connect to parts of yourself you might have long forgotten.
Think about pieces of music that spark emotion in you (or ask the One of many community for their recommendations!). They might be songs with moving lyrics, reminders of a different time in your life (maybe when you first met your partner?) or just pieces of music that are meaningful to you in some way.
Dancing is a wonderful way to take the experience to the next level. If you’re not used to moving physically, just swaying from side to side can be a profound thing to try.
Could you find five minutes to play some music, each day? While cooking dinner, on your way home from work, or alone in your bedroom?
Try it: Cue up a song, close your eyes, and see what comes up for you.
2. Connect to your senses
What do you see, smell, hear, touch or taste during the course of a typical day? If you find that life passes by in a blur, try just simply slowing down.
Maybe you have an opportunity to walk through a park on your commute, take ten minutes to savour a morning cup of tea or snuggle into a soft blanket when it’s time for bed.
Taking care of yourself means finding opportunities to make yourself feel special in some way, whatever that looks like for you. It doesn’t have to mean extravagant shopping sprees or days at the spa.
Here are some ideas to bring your world alive:
- Choose stationery that makes you smile. Next time you need a new notebook, could you choose one that really speaks to you with a beautiful cover, or textured pages? Or choose a pen that feels really delicious to write with?
- Rearrange your space: move a favourite piece of artwork or furniture so it’s the first thing you see when you wake up; or display photos of your loved ones to greet you when you walk in the door.
- Buy fresh flowers for your workspace, every week. Make it a ritual, just for you.
- Explore essential oils, or find a new perfume, that makes you feel special.
- Stop saving your nicest things for a “special occasion” – whether it’s your fancy underwear, special mug or a beloved piece of jewellery. Let yourself enjoy the “best” every day, and see how that changes your perception of yourself.
3. Enjoy touch — without pressure
Touch is often the sense we pay least attention to, especially when we’re living “in our heads” as a leader. If you’re in a partnership which feels like it’s lost its spark; spend most of your time being grabbed and mauled by small children or hate the idea of a full body massage, take baby steps.
Are there parts of your daily routine involving touch, that you could stop and enjoy?
- Brushing your hair
- Moisturizing after a shower
- Stretching and yawning first thing in the morning?
Taking a few seconds to enjoy using a gorgeous hand cream, noticing the way the sun feels on your face or giving your feet a massage when you take off your shoes can be gentle ways to begin to reconnect with your body.
4. Be thankful
Gratitude is a practice that’s becoming increasingly popular – it’s the foundation of our “thinking and thanking” ritual, which you can find in your audio library of Soft PowerCasts when you join our community (it’s free!).
But how often, even when you think about all you’re grateful for, do you remember to thank yourself?
One of the simplest ways to begin is by appreciating your body for everything it does.
No matter what physical challenges you face, there’s so much to be grateful for – from your incredible organs, to your trusty hands and of course your amazing brain.
Try whispering a “thank you” to your body last thing at night, or when you glance in the mirror.
5. Connect to others
It might sound like a strange way to practice self-care. But one of the ways you can begin to experience life more fully, and understand that your own struggles are shared by those around you, is to learn to listen to the other people in your life in a new way.
“Devoted listening” is a simple practice of staying quiet and really tuning in to what another person is telling us.
You can try it with colleagues, clients, friends or family. Even your partner – someone you see every day – might be someone you’ve not recently taken the time to really listen to.
Here are a few prompts to try:
- Pay attention to what the other person is saying – don’t be tempted to start formulating your response, or assuming you know what they’re expressing.
- What’s their body language telling you? What do they really look like – if they’re familiar to you, when did you last see them for who they really are?
- What emotions do you detect they’re feeling? Are they tired, frustrated, enthusiastic? Without judging them, can you observe as closely as possible?
Notice how many people you connect with each day, and how rich and unique their lives, personalities and experiences are.
Without judging, fixing or envying them, how can you begin to cultivate a genuine appreciation for everything they bring to the world?
Deepening your connection with others can begin to awaken your own feelings, thoughts and emotions. And this element of meaningful connection means The Lover is a powerful energy to draw on as a leader, especially when building a network or inspiring others to join a fledgling movement.
Self-care is a practice
If self-care feels like a chore, rather than a reminder to find and appreciate enjoyment in your everyday life, it’s a sign that something needs to change.
When you’ve been locked in “Superwoman” mode, just taking a few minutes just for you can feel like an alien concept, let alone actively seeking pleasure, joy or a connection to your physical body.
Stick with it.
The rewards – from helping you rediscover the pleasure of relationships, to cultivating appreciation for yourself and becoming a more powerful and magnetic leader – are immense.
How about you?
Have you struggled to make time for yourself, or do you have unorthodox ways to practice self-care that work for you? I’d love to know. Share in the comments below, and let’s help each other to take baby steps towards putting our own needs first.
If you’d like to find out about how we support successful, sometimes a little too-busy women like you to discover a different way of leading, click here to book a call with the office. We’d love to walk you through our different programs and see if we have a training that’s the perfect fit for you.
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