What is Self Care?

by Tina Terry

Self-care is a very popular topic these days. There are a multitude of articles and social media posts dedicated to this subject. What exactly is self-care? Wikipedia defines self-care as “any necessary human regulatory function, which is under individual control, deliberate and self-initiated” . How does self-care look and why is it so important to your well-being?

I will tell you a tale and in doing so will attempt to answer the two questions above. I lost my mother at a very young age and was raised by my maternal grandparents. While my grandparents provided a home for me there is nothing that compares to a mother’s love. I grew up with friends who complained about their mothers and all the while I would think how I would love it if my mother were around to annoy me. Growing up without a mother made me envision all the ways in which I would interact with my children when I had them.

I had my children, three exactly and continued to work full time. I did my best not to miss a school assembly, parent/teacher conference, art show, or any school related activity. While in attendance at these school functions I would monitor the time, think about work related deadlines and plan out the night’s dinner. I was a serial multi-tasker! I also grew up with a grandmother who cooked all three of our meals. Preparing home cooked meals for my family was also very important for me. I began to burn out but I kept pushing forward. I did so by decreasing my sleep time, decreasing the time I spent going to the gym, decreasing the time I spent with friends, and I gave up yoga completely. I had no time for all of life’s extras, as I thought of these activities at the time.

Slowly but surely I began to dislike cooking and dreaded leaving work because as I joked I was off to my second job. There would be laundry, dishes and homework waiting for me. There would also be behavior issues to deal with as my children began to try to grab hold of my attention. I no longer found any joy in helping my family. I assisted my family out of obligation and not love. After finding my way back to yoga I began to slow down. I began to take time for myself. In doing so I began to appreciate life and all its moments. I stayed with my breath and calmly helped navigate my children through the moments when they asserted themselves, as I saw this as practice for when they needed to advocate for themselves. This simple change had an enormous effect, as I did not allow my children’s roller coaster emotions dictate my riding this roller coaster with them. I no longer monitored the time when I chose to be at school for an event, because I would never get this moment back. The joy on my child’s face when they saw me in the audience helped me remain present.

Just as everyone’s yoga practice is different and personal so is self-care. Some may need more rest, others may need more activity, some will need time alone for self-study and reflection, and others will need more time with family and friends. In order to determine what care you may need to become your best self I urge you to come to a quiet place and just observe the thoughts that enter and leave your consciousness. Journal these thoughts and hopefully a pattern will arise that will lead you on the path to your self-care journey.

My name is Tina and I teach a slow and mindful Vinyasa class every Sunday @ 4:30pm at RCY Westford. I invite you to attend my classes to check in with your breath and turn your attention inward.

Tina Terry

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