Self Care Is Not Selfish by Prue Henschke
Making time for self care is something I have always struggled with. To me, it always seemed self indulgent, selfish even.
As a result, the occasional massage or solo lunch date I did have, always came with a degree of guilt – about the money or the time I was giving to it.
On reflection, I feel fortunate that years of burning the candle at both ends and making limited efforts at self care, didn’t manifest in any major way, like it does for some – with a serious health crisis. I did though certainly have many, many times where I’ve felt overwhelmed, over stressed, unhappy, tired and basically burnt out.
In 2010 I went to Bali for a week long surf retreat. I saw an article in the local paper about the retreat, then called Surf Haven (now Escape Haven) and something in me made me to sign up.
The retreat was life changing.
I was introduced to yoga and meditation – both practices which I continued after the trip (and to this day) and have kept me sane through some of my toughest periods. Myself and the other women on the retreat had prepared for us delicious, nutritious food made with love, spent each day in the ocean (connecting with nature) went to bed early, nurtured our bodies with spa treatments and had meaningful conversations. I came back to Australia feeling nourished and rejuvenated. I felt revitalized and ready to face my life again. I had learnt how self care really mattered.
In the past couple of years I have been blessed with the birth of two gorgeous sons. In adjusting to motherhood I am the first to admit I let the self care practices I had developed and cherished fall by the wayside putting the needs of my babies first. As a consequence I have found myself with niggling health issues, feeling tired and irritable – all important reminders for me that my self care needs ongoing attention. The difficulty now, as every mama will know, is that it comes at a time when finding the time and space for “me-time” is more elusive than ever. I had thought I was “too busy” pre-kids – I had no idea! To book a massage takes such a level of planning sometimes it doesn’t feel worth it – but I know it is.
Although I know as well as anyone the consequences of failing to prioritise taking care of myself, it is all too easy to let it slip – to put on that extra load of washing and straighten up the house.
I’m the first to admit I still have a lot to learn when it comes to self care. The theory is a lot easier than the practice. I started a blog earlier this year to document my journey to find more time for self care and ways to nurture myself – so I can better serve those around me and be a better role model for my boys.
Through the blog I’ve had the privilege of learning from other mamas and their experiences around self care. So far, the clearest messages I’ve received have been:
– The struggle to create and prioritise me-time is shared by all mamas.
– Each mamas idea of the perfect me-time is different. No mama’s needs are the same.
– Even short periods of 5 – 10 minutes, of me-time are beneficial for restoring and recharging.
– Mamas can clearly see the direct benefits of self care after taking some me-time.
– Most mamas create me-time during periods children are asleep or by speaking up and asking for help from partners, friends or family.
– Our thinking around self care needs to change. It’s not “pampering” or “spoiling” yourself to make time for self care, it’s essential.
– Scheduling “me-time” is key to making sure it happens.
As author LR Knost says “taking care of myself doesn’t mean “me first”, it means “me too”.
It’s a work in progress for me – as it seems to be for most mamas – but so very important.
Prue Henschke, mama of two boys, aged 5 months and 2 and a half years, yogi, meditator, beach lover, traveller, newbie blogger, lawyer. Based in Melbourne, originally from Teresa’s home town of Adelaide.