I don’t run! I walk, I meander, I stroll. I can run, I have run, I don’t like to run. I have never experienced the coveted “runner’s high”; That euphoric feeling runners talk about when their brain releases a combination of natural endorphins and other chemicals after they’ve pushed their body long and hard enough but I have only ever experienced what I call “runners hell”. When my body aches, joints pop and muscles groan and are persistent in their demand, I stop. I am anything but gazelle-like and when I stop running… to walk… I’m still going the same speed (lol). Seriously! I don’t run.

My friend Sandra runs. She runs every morning, sometimes twice in the same day. On the days we head to the gym or swim, she’s already gone for her run. Weather be damned, dark or light, ice or heat, trails or road, treadmill or track, she goes for her run.

Over the years, Sandra has taken me under her wing more than once. And even though she can walk faster than I run (I’m not exaggerating), she’s supportive, encouraging and “runs” at my pace, the reality is she’s already gone for her run when she meets me, so really I’m her cool down and I adore her for it. And over the years, it hasn’t changed… my favourite moment? The end.

Sandra swears by her running routine. It’s her method of self-care, but it’s definitely not my cup of tea.

I’d rather have a cup of tea

Honestly, I would have felt more relaxed if I stayed home and curled up on my porch with George and a fresh pot of tea In my opinion, there is nothing more comforting than a ‘hug in a mug’.

That’s the thing about self-care: there’s no right or wrong way to do it. As long as you’re honouring your needs and spending quality time with yourself doing what makes you smile, self-care can be whatever you want it to be.

The problem is that enough of us don’t practice self-care as much as we need to in order to find our version of balance in our life. We spend all our time putting our best efforts into being great leaders, employees, parents, and friends – but we forget how important it is to feel good about being ourselves so that we can be great for everyone else in our lives.

Self-care is essential for us to function productively, instead of wearing ourselves out and becoming a less efficient version of ourselves every day. I continue to have periods of time, where it’s hair on fire, mach three and go-go-go and honestly, I like it — it’s exciting. I’m also KEENLY aware that I will need to recharge and unplug to regain my energy or I’ll repeat patterns of my past and hit burnout. The key is finding self-care practices that truly improve your mood and your overall mental and physical wellness.

Maybe you’d rather have a couple of Zzz’s

Like I said before, there is no right way to self-care. You just have to do you.

And while it can sounds cliche, it’s true. Some people meditate when they wake up in the morning, while others find zen right before they jump into bed at night; I even had one client who would hide in the supply closet at work and meditate during the middle of stressful days! If meditating isn’t your thing, you can try exercising – going for walks with loved ones or friends, attending fitness classes, or signing up for a membership at the local gym (if you didn’t already do that at the beginning of January like everyone else! LOL!!) Self-care can even be as simple as giving yourself a bedtime (it’s not just for kids!) so you get adequate hours of sleep every night or scheduling regular dates with your friends to catch up. A client of mine has started making conscious efforts to get together with his friends on a regular basis, and avoiding having to use the excuse that he’s getting too caught up in life’s business. It helps him maintain good relationships, while also giving him concrete plans to look forward to.

Self-care is simple, really. It’s about balancing the stress with time to recharge and rejuvenate yourself. It starts with listening to your gut, following your heart, and practicing what brings out the best version of yourself – without influence from loved ones or peers.

You have to do what’s right for you.

Self-care isn’t selfish

Recent studies have shown that Canadians are reporting to be highly stressed from work and home life, which goes to show how important it is for us to establish self-care regimens and give us a fighting chance to combat our daily challenges.

Except (and I hear this over and over again) there’s too many of us that put our own T-L-C on the bottom of the priority list, after everyone and everything else. We only treat ourselves to bubble baths and face masks (and whatever the male equivalent is to those, unless that’s totally your thing – which is absolutely okay!) after we’ve come home from work, made dinner, helped the kids with their homework and tucked them into bed, prepared lunches for the next day and cleaned up the kitchen. But the truth is that our own well-being is just as important as everyone else’s well-being – if not more important, because self-care allows us to be a more vibrant version of ourselves in the presence of everyone else.

And trust me, I know that life gets busy and squeezing in one more task may feel almost impossible – but the commitment you make to honour yourself will always pay off in the long run. In those moments, you never have to worry about anyone else but yourself, and you just have to practice whatever feels best to you. So book yourself a solo weekend getaway, a massage, a get together with the best of your friends… or simply just grab a cup of tea or go for your run . Do something that makes feel healthier, happier and more like your true self on a regular basis.

You’ll be a better person for it and it will likely change your life.

Self-care is not selfish. Self-care is self-love.

I’m Janice Otremba, a professional speaker, facilitator and coach who specializes in Beating Burnout, Lowering Stress and Powering Up Your Happy! Let’s kick your butt into gear with simple, sound advice for beating burnout and powering up your happy. Book a free 15-minute consultation call with me to get started!

Image courtesy of fantasista at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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