Do you ever find yourself thinking “Crikey, I’m exhausted” as you suffer from brain fog juggling your mental load of work, life and all the rest, noticing your skin looks less than luminous than you’d like and more hair than usual in the plughole?

Self-care can so easily become something functional – I shower so I don’t stink. I eat so I’ve got fuel. I sleep enough to get by. A bit like the random maintenance we give our cars just before a cold snap, having neglected it all year bar topping up the tank now and then. 

Equally, we can ignore it as one of our disempowering archetypes, Superwoman flies in to save the day – cape on, big pants pulled up, ready to conquer it all single-handedly. Better that than prioritise, divide up and ask for help (all forms of self-care by the way). 

Mental Health UK reported in autumn 2020 that 59% of working women felt they were more prone to extreme stress levels than 12 months previously. Factors influencing their responses included managing home responsibilities (including COVID’s homeschooling and lockdown impacts), lack of job security, financial worries and a lack of support from their employers. It is worth noting in the same polls, working men reported significantly lower results throughout. For example, 48% (verses 64% of women) felt the pressures on them could lead to burnout. 

Burnout is defined by the World Health Organisation as: “Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualised as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterised by three dimensions:

  • – feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion
  • – increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job
  • – reduced professional efficacy

I’m curious – just reading that definition, does it resonate with you? Can you recognise times where you could “tick off” those bullet points? I know I’ve had times where I absolutely can for a several short periods and some longer ones. 

Meet the Queen Powertype

I’m going to propose you avoid Superwoman when under pressure from all sides and step into your Queen. Look at the image above. Notice how she has a firm, yet comfortable stance. She has an air of serenity and knowing. As she sees far into her realm, Queen knows she is driven to serve and to do so she must have the energy, vitality and mental agility she can to make that vision a reality.

Therefore, self-care is an absolute necessity. Never a luxury or a flippant act. Self-care goes hand in hand with Queen’s vision in providing her with a platform to lead and change the world for the better. Her boundaries are clear and upheld.

Queen also knows because self-care is essential to her, that guilt is not necessary. She feels no guilt in prioritising her physical, mental, relationship and spiritual needs in order to bring her best whole self to bear for her realm.

Imagine if your diary proactively aligned to your cycles, the type of soft power you can leverage to succeed and replenishment of your needs? Yup, that’s what Queen does – schedules ahead the self-care to bring her back to being ok, in balance and fully vital. Got a big event to host? She’ll follow it with some downtime. High profile project going live? She’ll plan in small self-care activities to keep her in top shape. Time drained by a commitment? She’ll draft in support from colleagues, friends and family. 

Queen will have her regular medical checks, like optician, dentist and physical therapist, in her diary. She is not too proud or ashamed to ask for guidance and her top advisors will be in her speed dial list for times where she needs experts to ensure her wellbeing is protected.

So let’s look at what else self-care can be.

Our access to self-care is through Lover

The Lover Powertype can be described as one that thrives from giving and receiving pleasure through her 5 senses and experiencing her full range of emotions. She is the centre of self-love and self-care. Lover adores our lumps and bumps as much as any other part of us and will devote herself to being fully vital as she leads, lives and loves.

Lover relishes the smallest of niceties from a slick of lippy before dialling into a zoom conference, gently massaging a softly scented cream into her hands whilst catch-up on an episode of a show or finding the perfect avocado for her salad. Equally, she knows what lifts her mood rapidly for those mid-afternoon dips or after the unexpected knocked her off course. A fragrant herbal tea or walk around the garden or 10 minutes of breathwork to a piece of enchanting music.

Do you?

I talk often about my #joymaker activities and use many of them as the small pick me up kindnesses to my body and soul. The beautiful rose and geranium crystal candle on my desk, which makes me feel wrapped in a deep love. The act of baking and then sharing goodies with my friends, neighbours and godchildren. The little lymphatic massage techniques I’ve learnt (thank you lockdown!) for loving showers, relaxing into bedtime with my evening gratitude practice.

Having your list of joy makers made and placing the little self-care goodies close at hand is key to your Lover having your Queen’s back, bringing you back to ok and keep moving forward in your authentic self.

If you’ve not started your joy makers list, go ahead, don’t delay. Delve into your Lover with some embodiment to your playlist songs and consider your sensual joys, your revival techniques, your shared pleasures and build your self-care practice ideas.

So switch your self-care from an optional extra, that riddles you with guilt to an intention planful practice using both Lover and Queen that lights you up. You can’t pour from an empty cup as the saying goes. Top up regularly and deliberately; it benefits you and those around you.

Just consider how life, work and love could be if you were easily fully replenished and proactively managing your energy and wellbeing day by day? How your self-acceptance, confidence and faith in your instincts could be boosted by the vitality and resourcefulness you have. How you can easily leap from activity to activity with little stress. How you can avoid burnout.

Start small if this feels uncomfortable. 

10 minutes of dancing between work and home “modes”, asking for help when you can see the wheels might wobble on your wagon, planning a great, no fuss meal at the end of that next manic day or applying lotion to your body with careful, loving strokes.

The Queen and Lover are both within you. Let them support you in being your whole vital self.