What is Self-Care?

Woman Receiving MassageIf you’ve been following my blog, you know that I am working my way through my chakras (starting #5 this week!) and currently Christine Arylo’s Madly in Love with Me. Last week, we discussed the self-love tree. Wanting to go easy on myself, I decided to tackle the self-care branch first.

I was led to that branch by Divine and I figured it would be the easiest branch for me to take on. In my mind, I was already doing a good job at self-care. Weekly massage? Check. Reading for pleasure every day? Check. What more do you need, right? Wrong.

Christine Arylo’s definition of self-care went way beyond what I had been doing or what I thought of as self-care.

“[Self-care is] Choosing to make sure that you get what you need on all levels – physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally – every day.” – Christine Arylo

Uhh.. well, dang. I guess getting a massage every week isn’t cutting it. So I began looking at what I am choosing to do every day for myself. I found my list woefully lacking. Make sure I eat several well-balanced meals throughout my day? Check – as long as something else doesn’t get in the way like a meeting or that I’m running behind or that I forget to eat. So maybe not a check.

Listening to my body when it’s hurting and wants to move because I’ve been sitting at my desk working all day? Um…. Check, after I finish whatever it is that I think is more important than listening to my body.

Making time to pray and meditate every day? Check, but only as I am trying to fall asleep or if I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep.

Talking to friends about my heart-wrenching divorce and the fact that I’m frustrated that I’m still on crutches after 3 months? Um… I don’t want to bother them with my problems. They don’t want to hear that and I don’t want to bring them down. Maybe I should see a therapist – if I pay someone to listen to me it’s okay. Or paint. That always helps. [As my friend Colleen would say, “Yeah, how’s that working out for you?” Me: Um, it’s not…]

Allowing myself time to heal and time for self-care? Who has time for that? I have deadlines to meet, bills to pay, work to be done.

Then I remembered my friend Lisa Marie Rosati’s oxygen mask analogy. Christine Arylo puts it a different way:

“The more you take care of yourself, the more you can take care of the people and things you love.”

Why? Because you’ll have enough oxygen to do so. You won’t be dead or passed out on the floor because you gave until you couldn’t give anymore.

You’d think with my broken heel, crutches, and limited mobility, this Fall would be all about learning to receive and take care of myself. Sadly, no. I have spent more time trying to prove I don’t need anyone’s help than learning to receive, allow, and let go – even though those were my goals.

Aahh, Universe. You and your cosmic 2 x 4s. Always pointing out to me that I am much better at dishing out advice than taking it.

I was just talking about this in an interview yesterday. Promoting the virtues of filling up your own cup and giving from the overflow, rather than giving everything you have to give away, leaving you broken and destitute. Such good advice. Too bad I fight myself every time I try to take it!

So this week, I am focusing on self-care.

What does self-care mean to me?

  1. Not booking more than 1 meeting a day while I am on sabbatical and trying to heal my heart, mind, and body.
  2. Spending my early mornings journaling and meditating rather than checking email at 5:30 in the morning while still lying in bed.
  3. Eating regularly. I’m shooting for 5 well-balanced meals a day.
  4. Reaching out to my friends when I need to talk instead of bottling it up inside.
  5. Making time to do the things I love each day and not letting my endless to do list get in the way.
  6. Unplugging at least one hour before bed, ideally at 6 or 7 pm.
  7. Listening to my body. When it’s hurting, stop doing what’s making it hurt and figure out what it needs to feel better.
  8. Taking at least one complete day off every week. As it’s Thanksgiving week here in the U.S., I am toying with taking 4 whole days off. That might just send me into freak out zone; maybe I’ll shoot for 2 instead.

What about you? What does self-care mean to you and how do you make time for you every day? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Until next time, make some time for you. No one else will.


  • Kimberly says:

    Mary – I found this article in a search about Goddess and Self Care and I chuckled the whole way through. I think we are twins 🙂 and probably indicative of hundreds of thousands more women out there! I really enjoyed the article and finding you! I included this article in our Full Moon Links to Love – looking forward to connecting more!

  • love the honesty of what self care is and how we can navigate around it with small seemingly innocuous actions. Very helpful!

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