How to take the guilt out of self-care

In my last post I wrote about learning the art of relaxing and talked about how I needed to take a more proactive approach to having some downtime.

Well, since I wrote that I haven’t really managed too much downtime. And talking to some friends about it and the whole “self-care” thing, it seems that a big reason a lot of us don’t practice self-care is guilt. We feel guilty about taking a nice long bath instead of doing the ironing. We feel guilty about spending money on a massage – something we perceive to be a non-essential item of expenditure. We feel guilty about doing just about anything coming close to self-care!

But what was interesting was that we didn’t feel guilty when we were able to combine doing something we love with doing something useful. For example, watching our favourite programme while doing the ironing or reading our book while waiting in the car for children to finish their activity.

So perhaps a good balance for those of us who are rubbish at doing this whole self-care thing is to follow this combo method. And, taking it one step further, letting ourselves “earn” our reward of pure downtime – if I manage to conquer Mount Clean Clothes That Need To Be Put Away I will go have a long soak in a bubble bath with a glass of wine and my book. If I tick three things off my to-do list then I’ll book that long-wished for massage or manicure.

Because although technically we shouldn’t need to justify or earn our downtime, for those of who are so stuck in their ways on the guilt thing perhaps this is a good way to start making that change.

Then hopefully, eventually, we’ll come to realise the benefits being a bit nicer to ourselves brings and see it as an essential part of being happy, rather than having to find ways to earn it.

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