Self-care is a term that is thrown around a lot at the moment, particularly when it comes to women. We’re told we should take more time for us – usually in the form of mani-pedis, bubble baths, massages and face masks.
But what does self-care actually mean? And is what we consider ‘self-care’ actually ‘self-comfort’ in disguise?
The relationship between self-care, self-comfort and stress
Let’s explore one of my favourite subjects – stress. Your stress levels and how you manage them can make or break your health. If you don’t cope with stress effectively, it can affect your nutrition and fitness goals.
Unmanaged stress also has a ripple effect throughout your entire family and life.
When we feel stressed, we seek comfort. Often, this comes in the form of external things that can take away the ‘pain’ of stress. Think:
- Ice cream
- Multiple cups of coffee
- Scrolling through Instagram or Facebook aimlessly
This is just reinforced across media and social media. We’re told constantly that as mums, we ‘deserve’ a glass of wine, and it’s the ‘best way’ to unwind at the end of a long day!
Of course, we already know that these things aren’t great for our health. Sugar, processed foods, added burdens on the liver and screen time can all influence our mood, hormone balance and energy levels.
But on a biological level, the reason we seek these things is because they trigger dopamine. Dopamine is a brain chemical that makes you feel good in the moment. It encourages you to repeat the same behaviours over and over again to get another ‘hit’.
In many ways, dopamine is the addiction chemical. The pattern of seeking comfort becomes wired in your brain. Eventually, your brain learns to depend on dopamine to cope with stress. And because we can’t fully erase stress from modern life, you want more and more of it.
Now, de-stressing is absolutely beneficial for your health. But relying too much on anything external to cope is not. You lose your ability to self-soothe and de-stress yourself.
This is where self-care comes in.
Self-care is a more proactive way to deal with stress. It’s caring for your whole self – physical, mental and emotional. And most importantly, it moves you towards your goals.
Self-care is often confused with self-comfort. Self-comfort is more about easing discomfort temporarily, and will likely keep you right where you are. It’s short-term gratification.
On the other hand, self-care is focused on moving you towards your goals. It is about your long-term wellbeing and preventing the negative impacts of stress on your life.
What does true self-care look like?
Still not clear on self-care vs self-comfort? Let’s look at some examples of self-care.
For example, let’s take a look at a common pattern I see in mums – bedtime.
A self-comfort choice might be staying up late and watching Netflix until 11pm because it’s ‘your time’ away from the kids. But a self-care choice might be going to bed at 9.30 because you’ve been tired lately and could use the extra rest.
- Choosing nutritious food most of the time
- Drinking enough water
- Turning down a social invitation because you need down time
- Booking in that appointment with your health professional that you’ve been putting off
- Going for a walk
- Opting for an early bedtime in lieu of another night out
- Pursuing personal development
- Seeking help from a mental health professional
- Doing something for fun or that you enjoy
- Taking your supplements or herbs
Building regular self-care habits into your day will ensure that you reach your goals so much faster.
A reminder: self-care is not just about you
Recently I attended a virtual retreat, focusing on self-care & productivity.
It was great – I learned a lot. But the best bit was seeing this extra focus on self-care rub off on my kids.
My 10-year-old set up a meditation retreat in the lounge room. He did this to help my 7-year-old calm down as she was on the brink of an epic meltdown. He even played his harp to help create that full retreat vibe. It worked too – both were so much calmer for the rest of the day and night.
The take-home message is that investing in yourself, your health, building your stress resilience, pays dividends to your family, friends & community in so many ways.
Self-care is not a mani-pedi spa day. It is made up of the daily habits, actions & behaviours that fuel our body, mind & soul. These help build our resilience & capacity to cope with the stresses, worries & challenges that pop up through life.
Self-care keeps us from being irritated & overwhelmed All. The. Time.
You are so worthy of the love and attention that you so easily give to others.
Do you want to master your constantly fluctuating hormones, mood, energy and weight?
Are you ready to feel calm, in control, less stressed and able to put yourself first?
Book in for a free discovery call today, and we can explore how I can help you to support and nourish yourself – mind, body and spirit.