It can be easy to become judgmental when considering another person’s idea of self-care. As most of us can interpret, this term is broadly used to describe the ways we care for ourselves on a daily basis. As I am both a personal trainer and a psychotherapist, it tends to mean different things in both of the professions I am immersed in.
On the therapist side, it is common for us to use this term as a catch-all phrase encompassing the ways we (therapists) keep ourselves healthy and balanced in order to promote good boundaries with our clients and do strong clinical work. Therapists I know will answer this question by sharing things they do that tend to sound like: hike, read, talk to others, get supervision, cook, meditate, or do yoga.
On the personal training side, it is used in general to define how we (trainers) are keeping ourselves fit and strong in order to prove to our clients that we are what we promote in fitness and health. Trainers I know say things like: run marathons, CrossFit competitions, triathlons, eat low-carb, juice, cleanse, or do Pilates.
For other individuals and professions, self-care can mean a variety of things. The term can refer to the ways you’re caring for your body, mind, work/life balance, relationships, food planning, weight loss, sleep cycle, and spirituality, just to name a few. The term expresses how well you promote wellness and are connected to your “true self”.
Not coincidentally, I have met individuals who define self-care by the ways that they take care of their self-esteem and positive body image through plastic surgery and other body modifications. These individuals can feel that they care for themselves in ways that allow for them stay young and timeless forever in the manner that truly matters to their sense of identity. Friends of mine and people who come to see me have gotten butt lifts/implants, tummy tucks, liposuction, eyelid lifts, and vein removals. In addition, I know people who swear by a myriad of various injectable potions that instantly erase the years off of their faces. If this matters to you, then I say, “Go for it!”
Why not leave room for everyone to decide for himself or herself what defines self-care to them? We can be a fairly judgmental society in many ways that are harming or shaming. I see a lot of negative press around people seeking medical professionals to make cosmetic changes. It is your body and your decision.
If there is something going on with you that causes you to feel not good enough or not your best, it can be empowering to make changes that can lead to a new, improved, vibrant self. Maybe your changes involve healthier eating, exercising, having a date night with your spouse, prioritizing sleep, or even visiting a cosmetic surgeon to discuss your butt, gut, or potential sucks and tucks. The choice should be uniquely yours and yours alone.
If you are reading this article you are already taking the first step in finding ways to improve your wellness. Taking the time to reflect on what you may need to change in order to feel better in different avenues of your life, and beginning to search for resources and ideas, is a proactive approach to moving yourself forward. This first step will already have you feeling just a little bit better as you begin to enter the “action phase” and prioritize YOU in your life.
I look forward to writing topic features on the various ways in which you can promote your own unique self-care.
© Copyright 2014 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Stacey Neil, MA, LMFT, CPT, therapist in Los Gatos, California
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