Self-care can’t exist without self-compassion

I realised today that a big part of self-care is learning when to accept 'good enough’. Whether it’s helping a colleague, supporting a loved one, or even making time to write a blog post, we want to do our absolute best, and feeling like we’re falling short can be stressful and upsetting. Learning to reprioritise and when to give yourself a break is crucial for self-care.

Time to give yourself a break

This week, I’d planned to spend my spare time writing a thoughtful blog post, reading up on UX design theory and also spending at least one night at the local climbing centre with a friend.

This weekend, a meteor of change crashed in my life and threw all of plans into disarray. In the long term this change will be positive, but right now all I can think about is how much time I no longer have for the things I’d planned to do. Not only can I not do what I had planned, I also have a new list of to-dos, which I can’t possibly accomplish in one week.

Like many people, I instinctively get anxious when this happens. What will people think if I don’t finish my blog post? My friend will be really upset if I cancel our plans. I’m never going to develop myself if I don’t set aside time for wider reading. How can I prepare for this big life change in the week before it arrives! I used to go into a bit of a tailspin when this happened (and I sometimes still do!) but with time, patience and some work on self-awareness I’ve learned to take better care of myself.

At times like this, my other half reminds me to take a breath, and reevaluate. I start by look everything I thought I 'had' to do, and I reprioritise. What genuinely needs to be done right away? What can wait, even if I wish it didn’t have to. And for those things that I can’t accomplish this week, what are the real consequences of not doing them when I want to do them. My friend will understand if I can’t make our climbing date, because she’s my friend! And we don’t need to be 100% prepared for the change coming next weekend, we only need the fundamentals, anything else can wait and we’ll pick things up as we go along.

For me, this process is so important for self-care. Acknowledging that I’m feeling uncomfortable or anxious, examining why that is and then having a reality check before making a new plan.

Do I enjoy feeling like I let other people (and myself) down? Heck, no. Am I happy that I can’t do what I hoped to this week? Of course not. Am I completely comfortable with 'letting things go’? Nope.

Am I feeling better than I used to in situations like this? Heck, yes. Am I doing better at giving myself a break? Absolutely. Does this help me to take better care of myself? Yes.

Recognising that you need to show yourself some care and compassion is the first step to taking better care of yourself.

This post was inspired by Support Driven’s spring 2017 writing challenge. This prompt asks us to share our thoughts on self-care.