When I hear the phrase “self-care”, all I used to think about was warm baths or buying myself flowers. But as anyone who works alongside other human beings knows, self-care means so much more. Today I want to explore its Yin and Yang nature.
One dimension of self-care is the more traditional version (the warm baths and flowers route). This is considered the Yin form as it is nurturing and enveloping. Yin self-care is what the person who loves you most in the world does for you when you are having a rough day or feeling sick, encircling you with warm fuzzies.
Another aspect of self-care is the Yang dimension. It’s the type of care that a coach or mentor might deliver. It is positivity that pushes you forward and doesn’t let you hold back your potential. Yang self-care doesn’t let you eat cookie dough on the sofa while you watch your favourite childhood movie for the millionth time—it gets you off your butt and out to the gym or to yoga.
One is not better than the other, they are just different aspects of the same thing.
Here are some examples:
Yin Self Care:
- Getting to bed early so you can get a full 7-8 hrs of sleep
- Taking a sanity break, free from phone calls and email
- Spending time with loved ones enjoying a long meal
- Reading a novel
Yang Self Care
- Getting up early in the morning to do a physical practice
- Spending a day pushing through outstanding work so you can relax on the weekend
- Spending time with loved ones working out, or doing some healthy activity
- Learning a new skill or hobby
Yin is nurturing and recharging. Yang is inspiring and developmental. And both are extremely important to our health and well-being.
How do you know when it's time for one type of self-care over another?
As human beings, we have to be aware that we have the tendency to favour one type over the other. Those who favour Yin self-care tend to judge Yang forms as being too aggressive or busy and therefore not self-care at all. Those who lean more towards Yang self-care may view Yin forms as being lazy and indulgent. While certainly when we swing too far from the midline, both of these opinions hold weight, it is important that we have strong skills to self-assess what is needed.
If you have worked a 50+ hour week and slept no more than 6 hours a night, some Yin self-care might be in order. If things have been light in your schedule but you still feel underlying stress or the need for something more, a dose of Yang is the fire you need.
There is no hard and fast rule to determine what your self-care regime might include, but I will offer a few simple guidelines that apply to both Yin and Yang self-care.
- If it doesn’t fuel you or nourish you, it isn’t self-care.
- Self-care means you do it for yourself. While asking for help or support is great, self-care should be empowering and something you can do for yourself with as little reliance anywhere else as possible.
- Self-care is something you look forward to. If you don’t enjoy/get a deep benefit, it won’t fuel or nourish you.
- Self-care results in health and vitality. Self-care doesn’t mean going out and eating a 3-layer cake or getting bombed. Never use “self-care” to justify bad habits or behaviour that hurts you or anyone else.
- Self-care is necessary to your well-being, take it seriously.
- Did you catch that last one? Self-care is necessary to your well-being, take it seriously.
This is your life, and if you are a responsible, awake individual (or at the very least, want to become one) self-care is part of your work to make sure you are firing on all cylinders.
Tell us what your favourite Yin and Yang methods of self-care are! Leave a comment below.
Image credit Japan Times