I remember reading about self-care online a while back.  It sounded like a nice way of putting aside time to visit the spa.  To buy those shoes I’d been admiring.  To paint my nails and feel good.

Self-care can include the above but it is a lot more than pampering yourself and having pretty nails.  It is about feeling good on the inside.  It is about taking time out to do what makes you happy, gives you peace of mind, what fills your cup so you can help fill the cups of others.

Ask anyone what their go-to is when they need time out and it will be different.  For some people me-time consists of losing themselves in a good book or watching their favourite show.  It might be a workout.  It could be time spent in nature or 30 minutes journaling.  Everyone has their own version and there is no template for what will work for everyone.

Last year I realised what worked for me.  My self-care rule for myself? Knowing when to say no and knowing when to put myself first. Sounds simple but as someone who has always felt saying yes was her only option, it took practice.  A lot of practice!

However, once I’d started I found it got easier.  Because constantly saying yes to others was saying no to myself.  Once I started putting myself first I had more time to focus on things that made me happy and brought with it a sense of calm.  Instead of needing to find extra hours in the day and ending it feeling tired.

It isn’t selfish.  It is essential.

The true test came around the festive season.  You know how busy that gets with all the running around, shopping and last minute catch ups? I had the busiest week and was counting the minutes until I went on leave.  Instead of cancelling my workouts for the week, I went to yoga one evening and spent time at the gym in between work, a coffee catch up, last minute shopping and dropping off gifts. I said no when needed, putting myself first and I did it guilt free. That was when I fully understood the term self-care.

It isn’t selfish.  It is essential.

Just as you cannot pour from an empty container, you cannot fully care for others when you neglect yourself.

Now when life is busy I make sure I plan my workouts and make it a priority to stick with them.  If things pop up during the week, I work them around my running time, not the other way around.  I know that I’m a much happier and calmer person when I’ve put my workouts first because I’ve put myself first.

And being a better and happier person?  Well there is nothing selfish about that.