In today's fast-paced and demanding world, self-care has become a buzzword. We often associate it with bubble baths, spa days, or indulging in our favorite treats. While these activities can provide temporary relief, true self-care goes much deeper. Real self-care is about establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries in all aspects of our lives, ensuring that no single area overtakes the rest. It encompasses our physical, emotional, and mental well-being and acknowledges that they are just as important, if not more so, than other responsibilities and obligations. In her transformative book, "Real Self-Care," Pooja Lakshmin, MD, offers invaluable insights into identifying boundaries, releasing guilt, connecting with oneself, and asserting personal power. Let's explore the lessons from the early chapters and discover how we can embrace real self-care.
Setting Boundaries: A Deliberate and Organized Approach
One of the fundamental steps towards real self-care is setting boundaries. As we navigate our personal and professional lives, it's crucial to be deliberate and organized. Often, we find ourselves prioritizing work above all else, sacrificing our well-being along the way. To establish healthier boundaries, we must evaluate our priorities and rank them accordingly. This process involves reflecting on what truly matters to us, what aligns with our values, and what goals we aim to achieve. By identifying the aspects of our lives, such as family, career, personal growth, and relationships, we can articulate our ultimate goals for each area. This exercise enables us to make conscious choices and allocate our time and energy according to our values. Understanding the distinction between goals and values is also crucial. Goals are the end results we strive for, while values represent the internal rules that guide our actions. By clearly defining our values, we can make decisions that align with our true priorities, even when faced with conflicting situations.
Letting Go of Guilt: Embracing Empowered Decision-Making
Guilt, especially for women, has become deeply ingrained in our lives. From an early age, we are conditioned to be people-pleasers and prioritize the needs of others. This pressure intensifies when we become mothers, balancing familial responsibilities with professional aspirations. The societal expectation that women should excel in both domains often leads to overwhelming guilt when we can't meet those expectations. However, "Real Self-Care" teaches us that the goal is not to eradicate guilt completely, but rather to acknowledge it and move forward. By considering guilt alongside other decision-making factors, such as emotions, personal desires, and external circumstances, we can make informed choices that align with our true priorities. Recognizing that guilt is a valid feeling, but not allowing it to dictate our decisions, empowers us to live authentically and choose what truly matters to us.
Reclaiming Power: Cultivating Self-Compassion and Assertiveness
To fully embrace real self-care, we must cultivate self-compassion and assert our power. This involves connecting with ourselves on a deeper level and recognizing our worth. Often, we use our roles as caregivers or nurturers to justify neglecting our own well-being. However, by valuing ourselves and understanding that our physical, emotional, and mental health are equally important, we reclaim our power. This newfound awareness allows us to set and enforce boundaries, communicate our needs effectively, and seek support when necessary. Acknowledging the patience and understanding of our loved ones, such as supportive partners like the author's husband, can be a catalyst for gratitude and fostering stronger relationships.
In a society that often prioritizes external achievements over internal well-being, real self-care serves as a crucial reminder to establish and maintain healthy boundaries. By setting priorities based on our values, we can align our actions with our true goals. Letting go of guilt and making decisions grounded in self-compassion and awareness empowers us to lead fulfilling lives. Pooja Lakshmin, MD's book, "Real Self-Care," offers invaluable guidance on this transformative journey. So, let us embark on the path of real self-care, embracing our power, and nurturing all aspects of our well-being.