What exactly is self-care?

Self-care and self-love are the “secret sauce” to not only having what we want in our romantic relationship but in our lives as well!

Self-care is the proverbial “secret sauce” in having happy, healthy romantic relationships. You know, that special something like the secret sauce on your favorite burger (or veggie burger)?  That’s what self-care is in relationships.

The definition of self-care varies from person to person.  Many people think it means things like taking bubble baths and having date nights for yourself or buying yourself gifts, and yes, those are all ways you can give self-care to yourself but let’s go deeper.

“Love yourself first, then figure out how to let that love spill out onto someone else,” Lee Christopher.

Photo by Bart LaRue on Unsplash

Below are some really great examples of what self-care looks like to some of my friends:

  • “With all other responsibilities making sure you give yourself some time for you,” Cassie Durrant.
  • “Putting myself on the top of my priority list,” Melissa Russo.
  • “Giving myself whatever I need on a moment to moment basis,” Sairah Pettes
  • “Taking care of yourself physically and mentally based on what makes you happy and fulfilled,” Sheri Rosevear.
  • “Listening to my body and honoring what I need to show up as my best self,” Nina Knudsen.
  • “Moment to moment taking care of what I need to, to maintain happiness and balance,” Brian McNeel.
  • “Nurturing my soul, getting a massage, speaking my truth,“ Teri Reiter.
  • “Being still, present and obedient to what my body is telling me it needs.  Rest, sleep and blissful quiet.” Linda Gross.

For me, self-care means knowing myself, my needs, wants, values, and boundaries and being willing to communicate them. It means always taking care of myself first before I take care of other people in my life.  It often means saying no when I’d like to say yes because I need to honor myself and what I need first and I know my own limitations.

Here are some of the ways I practice self-care:

  • Eating healthfully
  • Drinking lots of water
  • Taking breaks to rest
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Movement (daily walks, yoga)
  • Time in nature
  • Meditation
  • Working on personal development
  • Recreation and downtime to do things I love to relax like watching Netflix TV shows and movies, singing and dancing
  • Spending time with my loved ones
  • Spending time alone
  • Surrounding myself with positive influences
  • Limiting time on social media
  • Managing my influences
  • Managing my time and schedule (learning to say no as my mentor Marie Forleo says “get on the ‘no’ train!”)
  • Managing my expectations
  • Communicating my needs

And yes, I take myself out on dates, buy myself gifts and indulge in bubble baths too!

I learned what my limitations are the hard way by constantly exceeding them and ending up burned out and sick.  Now I’m super solid on what my limits are and what my boundaries are, and I am very strict about honoring them, so I can maintain my emotional, mental, and physical health and wellness.

Awareness is the first step to self-care. Self-care is the first step to learning to love ourselves.  And learning to love ourselves is the first step to having a happy, healthy romantic relationship. 

“Love yourself first, then figure out how to let that love spill out onto someone else,” Lee Christopher. This is one of my favorite quotes and serves as a great reminder to love and care for myself first before loving/caring for someone else.

Fill your love energy bucket by taking care of yourself and your needs first before you take care of those around you. This keeps your love energy sustainable and keeps you happy and healthy, so you can be the best version of yourself for those you love.

Photo by Johnny Brown on Unsplash

The Love Bucket

I like to use the analogy of a “love energy bucket” to teach what self-care and self- love mean and why they’re so important to not only having a happy, healthy romantic relationship but in having healthy relationships in all areas of our lives.  I literally imagine a bucket full of love energy spilling out onto everyone around me.

I first heard the analogy of a love bucket when I was in middle school/junior high. I admit I didn’t really get his lesson and just how important it really is until much later in life and after many painful learning experiences.

I would give and give to others until I had nothing left to give and then keep giving some more until I was so exhausted, burned out and inevitably I would become physically sick with illnesses that would last weeks or months. As soon as I was well, I’d do it all over again, and again, and again! I wasn’t learning from my mistakes at that time, and honestly, I was miserable and depressed.

Having learned my lesson, the hard way far too many times, self-care and filling my love energy bucket is my now baseline in how I operate in all my relationships. And if I slip and find myself losing track of taking care of my own needs and find myself getting overly tired and run down, I immediately course correct, shift my priorities back to myself and my well-being first and foremost before taking on anything else. I rest and recharge and do what I need to, to get my love energy bucket filled up and overflowing again.

All of us have a love energy bucket.  When it’s full we have plenty of love to give to others, when it’s not we become exhausted, depleted, burned out and sick.

We must fill our love energy bucket first before we can take care of or love others.  If we don’t our buckets get emptier and emptier until we have nothing left to give.  Just like a car cannot run on an empty tank, we cannot love others with an empty love tank, not without paying a huge price.

Fill your love energy bucket by taking care of yourself and your needs first before you take care of those around you. This keeps your love energy sustainable and keeps you happy and healthy, so you can be the best version of yourself for those you love.

When you give from a depleted or empty love bucket you are not giving the people you love your highest and best self, you’re giving them a rundown and exhausted version of you.

Don’t the people you love deserve you at your best?  The only way you can be that for them is if you take care of yourself.

Our relationships with others reflect our relationship with ourselves. How we treat ourselves sets the standard of how others treat us and how we allow them to treat us.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

It’s no one else’s job or responsibility to fill your love energy bucket but your own.  If you’re like me, you probably haven’t been taught how to do that.  You’ve probably been taught the opposite, that it’s noble to give to others to sacrifice your time, health (even your sanity sometimes) to be there for others.

I’m here to tell you it’s not noble to sacrifice your well-being for others it’s unhealthy and it will not lead to you having that happy, healthy romantic relationship you deserve and desire.

Our relationships with others reflect our relationship with ourselves. 

Is it any surprise that if we don’t love and take care ourselves first we often are not getting the kind of love we want from others in our lives? No matter how much we may love and give to them?

It just doesn’t work that way.  Like energy attracts like energy.  If we don’t take care of ourselves first we will attract those who also don’t care for us.

How we treat ourselves sets the standard of how others treat us and how we allow them to treat us.

If we love ourselves, it changes the way others relate to us. It changes the frequency around us.  We no longer settle for taking less than we deserve from others like we may have in the past because we care enough about ourselves to have standards and boundaries and to communicate those standards and boundaries.  We take care of our physical, mental, and emotional needs so we are at our very best when we show up for our loved ones.

If it feels like it’s against your nature to take care of yourself first, you may find it helpful to think of the oxygen mask analogy.  During the safety demonstration on an airplane, the flight attendants tell you that you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others. Why? Because if you don’t you’ll suffocate, and you won’t be of any help to anyone.

Just like if you don’t put on your oxygen mask first before helping others if you don’t make self-care a priority in your life and take care of yourself you will not be able to take care of others.  You might be able to get away with it for a while, but it always catches up with you one way or another.

When we love ourselves, it changes the way others relate to us. It changes the frequency around us. We take care of our physical, mental, and emotional needs so we are at our very best when we show up for our loved ones.

Photo by Cathal Mac an Bheatha on Unsplash

When we take care of our ourselves before we take care of others we will always have our needs met so we show up as our best self in our romantic relationship, all our relationships, and our lives.

We then attract the frequencies of others who will reflect our level of self-care and self-love back to us.

This is why self-care is the “secret sauce” to having a happy, healthy, romantic relationship.

So, keep that love energy bucket nice and full so it can spill out onto others and you can attract the kind of love energy you give yourself from your partner!

Wishing you love and happiness in your romantic relationship and life,

Now, I’d love to hear from you.

What does self-care look like to you? How do you take great care of yourself and how has that affected your romantic relationship?

Please share in the comments below and be as detailed as possible. What you share could inspire or help someone else.

P.S. Please don’t share any links to outside websites; any links will be deleted. 

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