At some point in the last few years, self-care became synonymous with bubble baths and scented candles. It gives plenty of opportunities for arty snaps for Instagram, as if self-care is something we do for the benefit of others, and not ourselves.
Except the clue is, quite literally, in the name.
Self-care is literally whatever you do to provide emotional or physical care to yourself. You can’t rely on someone else to make you feel better, so self-care is your chance to hit ‘reset’ and come back to your centre.
The problem comes because it can fall to the bottom of your to-do list. It feels indulgent or selfish to prioritise your needs. We’ve been taught to keep giving, and giving, and giving.
Ironically, the point when you feel you haven’t got time for self-care is when you need it the most.
After all, if you’ve got a big presentation due tomorrow, you probably don’t think you’ve got time to spend 45 minutes meditating. That Powerpoint won’t create itself. But by creating some space for yourself, you can bring your thoughts into order and finish the PowerPoint faster. Self-care helps you tidy up the scattered thought patterns and flustered energy that makes everything take longer than it should.
Self-care is also a beneficial practice for those who are dating or trying to date. Let’s find out why self-care is so important and how you can develop your own practice.
1. Treat yourself as you want to be treated.
You might hear this one in the manifestation space. It’s the idea that you ‘step into’ the version of yourself that you want to be. In this worldview, like attracts like, so you get more of the way you behave.
There’s actually a sound psychological principle that lies underneath it.
You’ve heard about the idea of dressing for success? Here, you dress as if you’re already successful before you go to a big meeting.
Whoever you’re meeting sees this version of you, and assumes you’re already successful. They’ll treat you accordingly, making a positive outcome of the meeting more likely.
It sounds manipulative, but it’s more about amplifying your positive traits and attributes. You’re dressing for the success you know you deserve because you work hard and you’re good at what you do. The positive meeting outcome reflects this principle and you’re ‘rewarded’ for it.
Self-care works in the same way. If you show a partner that your time is valuable, you respect yourself, and you value your needs? They’re more likely to follow your lead and treat you the same way.
2. You should enjoy your life for you, not just a partner.
When we really want a partner and a relationship, it’s easy to fall into a trap of putting our life on hold. Things will be better “when we have a partner”. We set aside things we want to do ‘until’ we have a relationship.
I don’t want to sound like a downer but let’s be honest. Your life could pass you by while you’re waiting. You could miss out on a lot of great experiences if you’re waiting until you have a partner to share them.
Trouble is, the only person you can guarantee to have in your life is you. It makes sense to take care of yourself for you. At Love With Intelligence, we advise you focus on what you want in your life before you start looking for a partner.
Decide on your priorities. Spend time doing things you enjoy. Work out what you want from life.
Once you get clarity in these three areas, you can start building a life that’s worth sharing. And you get to have an awesome life into the bargain!
3. Stop using self-care as a ‘new strategy’ to find a partner.
On the flip side of the point above, some people do self-care with a future relationship in mind. They pamper themselves to improve their chances of meeting someone new. This can fall into more superficial categories, like spa breaks and manicures. It can easily become focused on making sure you “look good” rather than providing any real care for yourself.
Or it can spill into the inner work they do solely with the view to being ‘ready’ for a relationship. Coaches keep telling them they need to do the work ‘first’ so self-care becomes their latest strategy. It’s a means to an end. Personal development becomes a step on the journey to finding a partner.
At its heart, self-care is about nourishing yourself. You’ve no doubt heard that old adage, ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’. Self-care is about filling your cup.
If I’m not doing self-care just for dating, then why is it important?
We’ve already covered why it’s important to create a ‘good life’ for your own benefit. Think of it as investing in yourself to improve your wellbeing.
While you shouldn’t practice it solely for dating, it can improve the process for you.
Dating can be tiring. A string of bad dates leaves a bad taste in your mouth. If you take that energy onto future dates, you’re unlikely to meet your ideal match. Self-care can help to reset your balance.
You’re also more likely to set strong boundaries, so you’ll be less drained by bad dates in future. Self-care helps you to manage your energy so you can retreat when you need space. You can show up when you’ll be at your best.
What does self-care look like?
Everyone has different ideas about self-care because everyone has different needs. Meditation is a common recommendation because of the many health benefits meditation offers. Likewise, exercise is a natural mood booster, it improves the quality of your sleep, and it keeps you fit.
Journaling is another great option because it helps get your thoughts out of your head, where they can fester and cause havoc. Revisiting entries also helps you to spot patterns in your behaviour so you can address issues before they become problems.
Beyond that, you’ll need to figure out for yourself what self-care looks like. You may find that you need to spend 45 minutes alone every day to feel ‘well’. Or you may enjoy playing with your dog or painting with your child. Hypnosis sessions might help you find rest and relaxation.
Figure out what brings you joy and what helps you feel calm and rested. Schedule it throughout your week the same way you would any important appointment. Don’t be tempted to skip a self-care session in favour of a date! Remember that it’s important to rebalance your emotions and wellbeing – both for your sake, and your date’s! You’ll show up as the best version of you if you stick your self-care routine.
Plus, as L’Oreal say…you’re worth it!
Self-Care With Support
Sometimes it can be hard to create a self-care practice you can stick to. If you want help designing a practice that works for you, invest in our Love With Intelligence signature program.
You’ll also get help to craft a dating strategy that works for you. We believe everyone deserves to find love and we’re committed to helping you do exactly that!
Click here to sign up for our Love With Intelligence signature program.