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7 Myths of Self-Care and the Truth of Building Resilience

by Kalia KelmensonFebruary 03, 2020
Heal
Woman wearing a flower crown soaking in the bath

Getty/ Merlas

Self-care is not a luxury. In order to build resilience, putting yourself first is critical. Here are seven of the self-care roadblocks we erect and how to break through them to find love and compassion for ourselves.

Becoming resilient requires you to pay attention to your own needs. You matter.  

Yet, self-care is often seen as a luxury, something to be done when all the work, home, and life responsibilities have been taken care of. When the report is filed, the laundry folded, and the dishes washed, then perhaps, as the thinking goes, we can take a moment to care for ourselves. 

Self-care, and wellness in general, are having a moment. Given how self-care has been commercialized, it can seem unattainable for average people trying to get through their day. Self-care may also suffer from an image problem: Taking care of the self can seem thoroughly narcissistic.

Feelings of low self-worth compound the issue. For self-care to work, we need to honor our worthiness—our inherent value as a receiver of this kind of attention.

Examining self-care more closely, we can see that the deep, intentional, and abiding dedication to attending to the needs of the self is at the core of being whole. The right kinds of self-attendance build inner strength and fuel the capacity to access our full set of resources, mentally, physically, and emotionally.

These are some of the common misconceptions that develop when self-care is viewed through a lens of commerce and unexamined beliefs.

It Is Not True That to Benefit From Self-Care:

You need to add to your to-do list. 

Much of true self-care is about subtracting, especially in our fast-paced culture. It is about saying no to commitments that don’t inspire your soul. It’s about letting go of relationships that have become toxic. It’s about choosing to believe that you have enough, you are enough, and you do enough right now, just as you are.

You have to buy a bunch of products. 

A big idea gaining steam in the wellness world is that in order to do right by yourself, you have to buy all the stuff. You need a jade egg, a crystal roller, and the latest crystal-infused, optimally scented, hand-poured-in-the-forest candle in order to benefit from self-care. 

You need nothing but your breath and your kind thoughts to begin a powerful practice of self-love.

You need a complicated routine. 

It’s easy to get overwhelmed simply contemplating a wellness routine focused on you—especially if you are someone who has a lot of self-care options. Perhaps, you are convinced that you need to incorporate every practice you’ve ever learned in order to reap the benefits of taking care of yourself. You don’t. Start with the basics by giving your body nourishing food, deep rest, and some kind of movement every day. These building blocks can inspire you to add meditation or daily laughter to your routine.

You have to know more than you do. 

With so much information available at the touch of a button, it’s tempting to believe that in order to attend to yourself, you have to take more courses, read more books, and find more information. Let’s be honest; right now, at this moment, you have all the knowledge you need to be your own powerful healer.

You need a weekend away. 

Oh, how we love to retreat; girl’s getaway to a yoga/surf/exotic destination? Sign me up! There is so much power in that. But a getaway isn’t necessary. Don’t throw in the proverbial towel if you don’t have reason to pack your actual towel. Before you start feeling sorry for yourself over a lack of time and money, consider creating your own retreat in your space. You’ll be able to prioritize every single detail to your liking.

Everyone else needs to be taken care of first. 

A common idea is that after kids, spouse, work, and dinner are taken care of, you’ll take care of yourself. But you probably know that this approach doesn’t work.

Think about when you are flying on an airplane and the flight attendants give the safety briefing. They always tell you to put your oxygen mask on first and then assist those around you. Think of self-care like that oxygen mask; when you can breathe deeply and fully, you can make a much bigger difference in the lives around you. Without that, you’re sure to burn out quickly.

It can wait. 

You might recognize the importance of self-care but find yourself saying, “I don’t have time for myself right now. I’ll get to me next week.” This, too, is faulty logic.

Our body speaks to us. First, it speaks to us in a whisper, as if tugging gently at our sleeve, softly telling us to pay attention, to notice the fatigue, the short emotional fuse, the dull ache in the pit of our belly. If we ignore that whisper, our body uses a stronger voice, urging us to pay attention now, to address the sleepless nights and constant feelings of malaise. If we still don’t listen, our body will begin to scream. We will have no choice but to stop in our tracks and address what has become unavoidable. But remember that it started with a whisper. If we can still ourselves enough to listen to that whisper, we can avoid an escalation.

Caring for yourself consciously and consistently will steadily build your inner resources. There will be times when you are inspired to go deeper, but on a daily basis it’s the little things that will add up and give you the capacity to be resilient. When you are full in yourself, you can share more of yourself. It’s time to move self-care from the realm of someday-it-will-happen into the reality of non-negotiable.

Affirmations for Self-Care

Even when we get fully on board with making self-care a priority, there will still be times when we are tempted to let something else take center stage. Write yourself love notes and post them everywhere your eye roams during the day or repeat these mantras to keep yourself on track.

  1. I always feel better when I [fill in the blank], even if it’s just for ten minutes.
  2. I am worth putting myself first.
  3. When I am full, I have more to give.
  4. Even though I have a long to-do list today, I’m going to sit and eat breakfast mindfully.
  5. My patience and compassion grows as I recognize and honor my own needs.
  6. I have everything I need to take excellent care of myself right now, in this moment.
  7. I breathe in peace and health; I breathe out anxiety and tension.
  8. Everyone and everything in my life benefits when I feel full of life and energy.
  9. I can choose to be fully present in each moment.
  10. I recognize the strength of my body, mind, and spirit.
  11. Having boundaries serves everyone around me, whether they can recognize it or not.
  12. By choosing to care for myself, I set a powerful example for everyone I come in contact with.
  13. “No” is a complete sentence.
  14. I have one body, one mind, and one spirit, and I choose to honor each of them every day.
  15. I have the power to choose what is most important to me in any given moment.
  16. I bring compassion to myself, even when I don’t choose to honor myself.
  17. Self-care is a practice that I get better at every day.

This is the fourth story in our series on resilience. Read the first three stories from Kalia Kelmenson:





Kalia Kelmenson

Kalia Kelmenson founded Maui Mind and Body to support women's health. She is the creator of Core Strength Balance and Mind Body Booty Camp and is the editorial director at Spirituality & Health. Kalia explores the fascinating intersection of fitness and mind-body health. Find inspiration for your movement practice from research and stories that are emerging from this intriguing field.

Learn with Kalia

Discover your vision for a healthy body as you age, establish an exercise routine that finally works or you, and build the foundation or an active lifestyle. Try out her course - Core Strength Balance: A 7-Day Mind Body Challenge.


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