I chatted with a client yesterday at our art gallery and spa who told me she was struggling to get to an art class that she had signed up for.

She kept playing a conversation in her head in which her life coach had once told her “you HAVE to put yourself first.” Her husband had also apparently suggested to her she needed a “girls’ weekend away.”  

To complicate matters, it turns out that some of her Instagram friends had also posted selfies from the nail salon or cocktail lounge, captioned “self-care!! 😘” 

In our conversation at The Healthcare Gallery, she revealed that the class was stressing her out. She had taken on a huge home remodeling project, AND her child had an injury that required around-the-clock care. The result of this conversation was that she now felt shame from “failing” to “put herself first.” She felt that she sucked at “self-care” and embarrassed that she’d honestly rather stay at home with her son than go on vacation with her friends. 

I’ve seen countless posts on multiple social channels that clearly demonstrate how “self-care” has quickly become synonymous with indulgence, fun, hobbies—aka separation from responsibilities. 

While this may be true for some, for others, it may be yet another source of failure and guilt. 

Let me just throw something out there…

Self-care isn’t a martini. 

It’s not always a trip to the spa.

It’s not a shopping trip… 

Or a girl’s weekend getaway. 

Self-care is a kind of self-parenting. In the words of Audre Long, “Participating in self-care is not self-indulgent but rather it is an act of survival.” It may occasionally be handling those responsibilities—not checking out from them, but putting yourself first all at the same time. In some other words, it may occasionally be doing absolutely NOTHING!

Rule #1:

Self-care for your body may not necessarily be “fun”: 

  • It may require doing homework; doing those home exercises your fitness trainer, physical therapist or wellness coach may recommend. 
  • It requires staying committed and taking the long view to reap the benefits emotionally and physically.
  • It requires staying consistent and working through that guilt day after day. 
  • It may be grocery shopping and prepping your meals, or working with a weight loss program so you can stay on top of your “Get Lean” goals.
  • It may require seeing a few practitioners who might do some painful or unpleasant stuff to you to optimize your body for the long haul. 
  • It may require performing skin care rituals to reveal that youthful skin underneath as you slay and defy the effects of gravity and aging.
  • CAUTION! You might feel more connected to yourself and the world around you.

Outside of the fitness world, self-care might often seem boring or mundane such as, you may decide a project is too physically demanding, financially limiting or time intensive at the moment and just postpone it. Kind of like the stuff you used to do to manage the family schedule. NO!…self-care should not be looked at that way. 

You see, self-care should be purposeful and intentional.

Which brings me to:

Rules #2, #3, #4, #5…..

  • Say no.
  • Set limits.
  • Leave after one drink so you can get some sleep.
  • Say no to a family obligation. 
  • Say no to that gift exchange.
  • Ask for emotional or physical help. 

Yeah, I know….zzzzzzzz. 

This isn’t the stuff of selfies: “😘😘!!” 

What’s the lesson here? My client was overloaded, so perhaps her greatest form of self-care is to quit the art class and focus on the home project and her son rather than going on another excursion. The mother within her was telling her to do just that. 

Think about it. Is that Christmas party that you were invited to is stressing you out? Then don’t go! If you’d rather sit out in your backyard around a small bonfire with your loved ones, then do just that.

If you want to keep your onesie on all day, then so be it. Unplug and turn off that iPhone, iPad and just do it!!

If you need help caring for your body, we’re The Healthcare Gallery, a wellness clinic and spa that can be reached at 225-384-5378. With services like IV vitamin therapy, healthy meal delivery services, weight loss programs, and so much more, our wellness clinic is here to make sure you’re getting the care you need.  If you need help with referrals to other practitioners or specialists too, I have a network of professionals I can share with you. Contact our wellness clinic today and see how we can make a difference in your life!

And hey—if you need to get something on Instagram, I can always pose with you: “😘😘!!” 

Otherwise, Have a wonderful week! Vive la SELF-CARE!!

Leone F. Elliott Jr., MD, MBA

PS – she’s going to quit the art class.