Self-care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress (Oxford Dictionary).
The vast majority of yoga teachers and wellness facilitators have nothing but good intentions and are deeply invested in wanting to help support our students and clients. Yoga, breathwork and bodywork teachers, therapists and facilitators have paid good money and given over a lot of time to hone skills which can be utilised for the wellbeing of everyone.
There are times when life is hard for everyone, especially in this current pandemic paradigm we find ourselves in. The urge to offer our services as embodying ‘self-care’ is an impulse that must be carefully controlled. It is of utmost importance that ‘self-care’ is not tossed around as a buzzword to help us promote our work online.
We must not jump on the bandwagon of offering ‘self-care’ this and ‘self-care’ that – as teachers and facilitators we are already in the business of providing ways to be healthier and happier, we don’t need to slap the trendy label of ‘self-care’ onto the services we offer. As teachers and facilitators, we have a wealth of knowledge and techniques which have the potential to improve our clients’ lives. In order to truly support our clients, we need to focus on their true needs and spend our time focused on this, rather than filling up our advertising copy with superficial labels.
For our clients to truly understand ‘self-care’, we as facilitators need to offer a clear definition of the word and its implications. The client needs to understand the difference between the positive, supportive, and potentially transformative ‘self-care’ techniques offered by qualified facilitators and the indulgent sensorial luxuries offered by social media that may take them away from their physical and mental health. It is our duty to be clear about what we are offering to our students so that they can discern the difference between ‘taking a hot bath’ or ‘using a scented candle’ and using proven techniques like movement, breathwork, meditation or deep relaxation.
Information and communication are key here. It is not about undermining treats and indulgences, but they need to be offered in the right context – there are appropriate times for everything. We must not confuse indulgence and taking care of ourselves.
As health and wellbeing facilitators, we are here to encourage our students to take care of their minds and bodies. But we also need to be honest in telling them that it can be a long process, not a one-stop fix. True ‘self-care’ is not straightforward. There is no magic wand to stress relief, dealing with depression or healing from illnesses. It is long, laborious and can be hard work. It’s also a multifaceted process:
- Accepting that ‘self-care’ is needed.
- Choosing which ‘self-care’ is needed: physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, or social?
- Taking the decision to let somebody else help you on your path to ‘self-care’.
- Finding the right therapist, teacher, wellness provider.
- Building the confidence to share what you need.
- Giving time, energy, and space over to working on ‘self-care’.
- Accepting the cost and the discipline involved.
- Being ready for highs and lows and learning to accept them.
- Allowing breathing room and time to reset if things aren’t going well.
- Being emotionally ready for a new life.
- Learning how to ignore social media quick fixes and inappropriate ‘self-care’ adverts.
True self-care is not about bubbles, baths, and nice scents. Just because something feels good doesn’t mean that it’s doing us true good. We can indulge these more frivolous fancies after we have gone deeper within ourselves by exploring empowering self-management techniques with qualified facilitators. They can take us on the right path of recovery and healing and enhance our wellbeing and health.