I awoke in the middle of the night thinking how I’m going to write about self care. Pretty big topic, but I’ve never been this passionate about a write-up before.
What self care means to me is the ability have an awareness of yourself– what people I think describe as loving yourself. It’s not love, really. It is just an acknowledgement of how you’re feeling at the time, and making the steps to readjust yourself if it’s a feeling you don’t welcome.
It is an important skill that often becomes overlooked. It’s overlooked in my nursing degree, especially when we are taught to put the patient at the centre of care. You can’t care for others if you can’t look after yourself. It’s the harsh truth. It’s a skill that is given to us through life lessons– perhaps at stages where we have failed, neglected ourselves or simply just didn’t listen to the advice that was good for us and paid the price.
I certainly didn’t have an awareness of myself in my teens. I became the spectator in my life, beaten down mainly by others, bullies.
I was however thankful for a special lady that made an appearance in my teens. She took me in, sewed the buttons back on my coat and told me “You are Lauren”. Having conversations at length, she brought out skills I didn’t know I had. She gave me an awareness of myself. She was my Grandma.
I was so lucky to have Grandma. She saw me as an individual and expanded on my strengths and made me aware of them, but also my weaknesses. At first I never listened to her about my weaknesses, but in the end she was always right and I paid attention eventually.
The self-care thing is something I think parents can get really wrong. They don’t treat children as individuals and find that the best way is to identify them by their genders. If you push your children into activities or behaviours that don’t suit them, then how are they ever going to find coping strategies and look after themselves? It’s a set up for emotional breakdowns, mid-life crisis, and mental illnesses that also manifest a range of physical illnesses.
We have to find out exactly how to look after ourselves. It is sometimes a journey down a dead end road, a road we visited before, and then a spaghetti junction until we find our best path.
The difficulty is our mind. It’s all a mess. When the mind is clogged, we might reach for the fridge, drugs, alcohol, if the body desperately wants some kind of quick pleasure. The other end is finding pleasure from losing a few pounds at Weight Watchers or doing a cleanse or looking like a Barbie doll on speed.
We have this sugar coated bullshit fed to us that tries to make us believe that Kim Kardashian and losing weight with Slim Fast is positive for the world. Or, maybe it’s being a travel junkie and doing everything naked. Whilst good for a time, the novelty wears off and you end up with your uncomfortable self again. There are a lot of ways to get it wrong.
I read a biography of a life coach recently who provides “big-hearted, bullshit-free cognitive coaching for real women”. Life coaches fascinate me. These are the people with the tools. It’s heavily in alliance with fitness coaches too– or at least the ones that realise product quality. It’s all to do with awareness.
This is something I have found to be of importance in training. For a sport like weightlifting it takes a great amount of awareness. Lifting is very heavy on the central nervous system. If you’re not right, you don’t move right. Your body screams at you. I think the barbell may teach us to become aware of ourselves. For instance, knowing when to eat more carbs or go and sleep for a few days. Learn its ways or go home.
So what do you think self-care means? Is self-awareness something you haven’t considered before? Try it and see what happens to your training!