I hear, think and talk a lot about self-care.

Although it can feel like an overused, perhaps misunderstood, wellness catchphrase it is actually one of the most important concepts that we as people who want to be our best for ourselves and others need to think about.

No, Not just think about but embody.

The problem with self-care is that is can seem so, well…selfish.

But in fact, it is inextricably linked to one’s ability to care for others.

If you are a parent or teacher or nurturing in any way your tendency (and most certainly mine) is to put everyone else’s needs first at the complete neglect of your own.

This leads to burnout, exhaustion, guilt and resentment which makes it really difficult to be there for anybody. As they say, you have to put your own oxygen mask on first.

In day-to-day life what does this mean?

Self-care has a connotation of pedicures and spa days, vacations and retreats, and while that is lovely and absolutely something rejuvenating and self-pampering these are not always realistic in terms of schedule and, most certainly, budget.

To me, caring for yourself means so much more.

Sometimes as a busy parent, we lose ourselves a bit. We are there for the tears, the hugs, the nourishment and the driving… the rule-making and the endless negotiations (especially if you have teens).

Self-care starts with knowing yourself.

Asking yourself what do I need to get me through this moment or those I know are coming?

Here are some small things you can try to use to answer that question and start your self-care journey in the month of September which just happens to be National Self-Care Month!

Speak It Into Existence

Pick one inspirational quote, phrase, sentence that you have made up to repeat to yourself in moments of stress and moments of calm. Maybe “I am calm” or “ I have this breath” or “I am enough.” Put them on a post it, put it in your calendar as a daily (or as often as you need) reminder. Repeat repeat repeat. It’s amazing how positive self-talk (what I like to call little #mindhugs) can turn your mood around and lift your spirits and refuel your tank.

Take a (Deep) Breath

This is the best way to find a moment to care for you. Deep slow inhalations through the nose instantly calms your nervous system. Giving you a moment to think and connect to you! Also, as you breathe your diaphragm gives your internal organs (adrenal glands, kidneys etc..) an actual massage. With every breath, your insides are getting a gentle calming pat telling them all is okay.

Use No as a Complete Sentence

Make sure when something feels like it does not align with who you are and what you need you say no. Whether that is to your children, boss, friends, partner. Being able to set small gentle boundaries is taking care of you and not giving away energy to something that you know in your gut goes against your truth. It is also a wonderful example for your kids teaching them how to set boundaries and care for themselves too.

Forgive Others… and Yourself

When you lose it…which you will no matter how mindful and aware you are, no matter how much you meditate or practice present moment awareness…so I repeat WHEN you lose it, forgive yourself. Forgive yourself out loud, in front of family friends or whoever was the recipient. Forgive yourself in your own heart and mind because forgiveness is love and by forgiving and not judging you are not becoming your emotions but noticing, learning and moving forward. Again this is a beautiful example for your children — forgiveness and love of yourself to help them thrive in day-to-day situations that are, ultimately, going to be filled with challenges and obstacles along the way.

Self-care is the ability to treat yourself with kindness and love from the inside spreads to the outside. So yes, if you can do it get a pedicure, take that walk on the beach, get on that spin bike! Do what you need to take care of you and know that there are many options for self-care. It’s not self-indulgent or selfish to nourish yourself, to love yourself, to take care of you first.

You will find you are able to be fully there for others when you are fully there for you.

To learn more, let’s connect on Instagram (http://instagram.com/susanverde) and on my website, http://susanverde.com.