• amyk

Are Your Practicing Self-Care or Self-Survival?

Updated: Sep 4, 2019

Maybe it’s the rebellious soul that I have but honestly, I think the general lack of caring about self-care when things aren’t going well in life is because of the mainstream popularity of the buzzword “self-care.”

I know when I’m having stressful day or just a plain bad day, the last thing on my mind is self-care.

Since self-care has become popular it has had many rules attached for what it truly means and how you should do it. These standards for what defines self-care are sometimes not things we can live up to, especially when things are not going well, and are ideals lacking focus on our personal individualized needs.

Self-care has become a generic a sugar  coated cereal we are forcing onto ourselves thinking we are doing what we should to take care of ourselves.


Where Self-Care Falls Short

We are connected all the time to technology, jobs and responsibilities with very little time to ourselves.  Most of us don’t take or get the opportunity to disconnect from our phones frequently enough. We don’t enjoy being outside or inside to take in what is around us, including the people surrounding us. We don’t get enough time away from our desks to have a nutritious lunch or take a much needed break. Self-care is a myth many of us think we will get to later, when we have more time.

If we did all the “you should, it’s good for you” things and each only take 10, 15 or even 30 minutes a day we would have no time left for the things you “have to”  or “want to” to keep life moving.  Our society loves to tell us what is good for us and what we “should” be doing every day but then gives us dirty looks when we don’t keep all the other things we need to do up-to-speed. The perfectly clean home while working full time, caring for a family and getting a home cooked meal on the table every day, hitting the gym, having the perfect manicure and keeping everything running like a smooth ship  just isn’t realistic.

Most of us are literally running from one thing to the next from the time we get up to the time we crash at night. We lack the quality of life outside of responsibilities, deadlines and chaos. In a failed effort to do it all, we hope no one notices our nails are way past a manicure, that we spilled diet soda on our dress pants while eating and driving to a morning meeting after dropping the kids off for school or that we’re operating on 4 hours of sleep. We are continually stressed and think its normal to feel this way.

It’s little wonder with the non-stop go lifestyle we have there are points in time when things derail or put us off our normal pace that we want to crawl into our stretchy clothes and hide for awhile.

Self-care for most of us has become much like a starvation diet, where you think by skipping meals you can lose weight. If we only do what’s on our list now, we’ll have even more time to take care of ourselves later. We can enjoy it more. We can find the perfect way to do it.

Self-Survival Mode

When things are stressful, even more full pace than usual or we experience a hurtful or painful situation we often have even less time in our day for the “you should, it’s good for you” things so our self-care falls even more off our “list” as we deal with chaos, drama, stress and pain around us.

It’s not that we are seeking out ways to skip workouts, eat junk or not sleep well at night, but sometimes it is what happens. Our bodies absorb so many stresses and pains in our life that many of us live in a constant high-stress adrenal rush and don’t even realize it.

When our body, mind and spirit have had enough we become halted mid-action at usually very inconvenient and inopportune times. We are so starved for downtime that it only sometimes takes a little problem to have us losing our mind and seeking refuge.  We feel defeated, kicked, beat up, exhausted and just done and over everything.

I reach this point myself sometimes. It is usually when things are all going full steam and I can feel myself getting ready to explode with anger, frustration and feelings of being overwhelmed, tired and stressed. My head will hurt. My body is just moving out of reaction to tackle the next task and I don’t even know what day or time it is anymore. I reach the point I can’t go anymore. I’m done physically with pure exhaustion. My mind hurts with the endless stress and my spirit is low like I’m failing at everything and all around me are these big piles of drama and chaos that are relentless.

When it reaches this point the only thing you can do is give yourself a big time out because you are in self-survival mode. This means we haven’t had any time along the way to take care of ourselves because of everything else going on in our lives. We have starved our bodies, minds and spirits to the point of complete depletion.

We find ourselves in a dark room in our home far away from our phones and connected media, dressed in the stretchy comfy clothes with crazy hair, a bag of chips in our hands as we slump in our bed binge watching TV for a few days.

Self-survival is extreme self-care that is on life support. 

Self-survival is a mind, body, spirit flu-like illness that can create larger problems like depression, anxiety, physical illnesses and long term side effects. The time we take in self-survival can help us recover short term but it is really a red flag that we need to make changes in our lives and gain control over the environmental factors that got us to this point.

What Self-Care “Should” Look Like

Not many of us have the luxury of daily or regular self-care but to avoid future episodes of self-survival we must find a balance that works for our lives.

The beauty of self-care is it is defined by what works best for us. What works for someone else may not be the same for you. It’s time to get real about what makes you feel good and helps your body, mind and spirit recharge.

There also is no timer for how long or short a session of self-care should take and there is honestly no right or wrong way to do it.

The only limits to self-care are what we impose on it.

The bottom line is self-care should be what makes us feel good, whole and at peace with ourselves. If what you are doing (or want to do) accomplishes that then  who is to say it is not self-care?

If you’re idea of self-care is getting a massage, having a pedicure or taking a walk go for it!

Maybe self-care for you really is a day of ignoring all texts and calls, not leaving the house and living in stretchy clothes, crazy hair while TV binge watching and eating junk food.  If that is what you need and it can be done positively with the purpose of resetting your batteries go for it!

The point is self-care is really about self-love. We may not be able to do it every day but we need it at some regular interval right for us and our needs. At times that could be more frequent than others but it will go a long way to helping you navigate life’s challenges when you have some form of it by your side to call on when needed.

Finding Out What Makes You Feel Good

To make self-care personal we have to know what works best for us. We have to first stop intentionally and take time to learn that about ourselves.

What do you like to do?

When are you happiest?

Do you know how it feels to be content in a moment?

Are you comfortable with yourself alone, free of others and distractions of technology?

What do you think about when you are all by yourself and no one can hear your thoughts?

These tough questions can help you determine where to start. From these answers you can figure out what self-care looks like for you.

Is it taking a walk by yourself?

Is it learning to meditate or practice mindfulness?

Is it journaling or taking up a creative hobby?

Is it soaking in a bath?

Is it taking a nap?

Try to find a form of self-care that is free of technology dependency and enables you to completely disconnect from everything and everyone – even if that is for 5 minutes.

One you know what works for you in method, find time to do it!

Use this time to reflect on what is going on in your life.

What is working well and what isn’t?

What do you want to change or expand on?

How are you feeling physically, emotionally and spiritually?

Self-care doesn’t have to be complex, it just has to be what you need.

Essential Oils that Support Self-Care Reflection

Being true to yourself is an important element of self-care. You have to find the space to talk to yourself and assess what you need, want and desire.

Diffusing oils such as Coriander, Lavender, Birch, Black Pepper, Clove, Kumquat can help solidify our sense of self and give us the confidence to make room for acknowledging our need to be true with ourselves.

Juniper Berry and  Copaiba can help us enhance our self awareness to focus on what we need and what self-care may work for us.

When we feel ourselves going towards self-survival level using oils like Wintergreen, Spikenard, Sandalwood and Arborvitae can help us let go of what we cannot control and work towards resetting our intention to what is most important.

Accepting ourselves is part of accepting what we need to be well in body, mind and spirit. Using oils like Bergamot, Vetiver, Ginger, Balance, Fennel and Jasmine can help us enhance this work of self-acceptance and love.

Interested in more?

I encourage you to find what works for you and include more self-care in your plans for this year. Incorporating essential oils as part of that work can help enhance that experience and help you through this process.

If you have questions please reach out! I’m happy to help you with information and support to find the right oils for your needs and interests.

amyk@dragonspitapothecary.com

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