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  • Resilient Practice

How to Practice Self-Care

Updated: Jun 20, 2021

"Self-Care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on Earth to offer others"

Parker Palmer

Self-Care – The practice of taking action to preserve one’s own health - Oxford dictionary

‘Self-care’ is a medical term which was coined in the 1950s to describe activities that allowed institutionalised patients to retain their independence. These tasks may have included personal hygiene, washing and dressing, cooking, shopping, and basic housekeeping. They may seem obvious to us now, as essential to everyday living but for those to whom this term applied, they were crucial in building self-worth and therefore never taken for granted.

Only in the last few decades has the term ‘Self-Care’ taken on a new meaning.

There is no new, modern definition. Perhaps ‘Self-Care’ means something different to each of us.

A relaxing bubble bath? A glass of wine at the end of the day? Retail therapy? Time out with a friend to share our news?

When we compare our current lives to those of our diverse ancestors, we see that often, much of their attention was taken up with the business of survival. The concept of self-care as we now know it might have seemed irrelevant or even surplus to requirement. If there was shelter, enough food on the table and no threat of immediate danger, there was much to be thankful for.

In later years, society has developed the concept of ‘Self-Care,’ to include more than simple survival skills. This is not because we are somehow weakened by our vastly improved technology and progress. Neither are we ‘snowflakes’ that are far too used to the creature comforts of immediate connection to the internet for information and entertainment from the device in our pocket.

Could it be that the concept of self-care as we know it has evolved because, as a collective, we have noticed that despite all this progress, something is lacking?

What could that be?

What might we have lost along the way?

Time? Space? Presence? Connection? But to what? Each other? The Land? The Planet? The Divine? Ourselves?

Let us remember that our ancestors, by their nature were living in the moment.

Somehow, amongst all this progress in the New World, we may have drifted away from our innate ability to do this as we are continually encouraged to project ourselves forward towards our goals and to utilise valuable energy safeguarding and insuring against any number of disasters that can now be forecast.

We have already discussed the therapeutic benefits of mindfulness and shared tools which help achieve mindfulness.

But is there more to Self-Care than mindfulness?

How do we define it for ourselves?

Let us remember that ‘Self-Care’ has also become Big Business. From the latest bath products and essential oils to the newest gym equipment, even to self-help podcasts and courses (we see the irony here,) suppliers know that you have a need.

When seeking to look after the Self, it is difficult to know who to listen to, especially when everyone is talking.

What does Self-Care really look like?

The first and most important step towards learning to practice Self-Care is to know yourself.

You can listen to the vast body of experts in the field of human wellbeing about what is generally recommended but without a profound knowledge of the Self it is impossible to know your own needs.

Once these are established, a plan for meeting them can be made.

To learn more about self-care see ‘How to Rise – A Complete Resilience Manual’ from Sheldon Press. It takes you on a journey of self-discovery sharing over 60 tools and techniques, including meditations with purpose, visualisation exercises and practical tools to help improve your mental wellbeing and reduce anxiety. 'How to Rise' helps you to take control of your life

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