Self-Care: #12 of 28 Big Ideas from the World of Coaching

This article is thirteenth in a multi-part series that adapts and excerpts my entire book, The Coach Within: 28 Big Ideas for Engaging the Power of Your Own Wisdom, Creativity, and Choices* (Everything Goes Media, 2017).


12. Self-Care

“With every act of self-care your authentic self gets stronger, and the critical, fearful mind gets weaker. Every act of self-care is a powerful declaration: I am on my side, I am on my side, each day I am more and more on my own side.”

— Susan Weiss Berry

“How you treat yourself is how you’re inviting the world to treat you.”

— Unknown

“Self-care is the number one solution to helping somebody else. If you are being good to yourself and your body and your psyche, then that serves other people better because you will grow strong enough to lift someone else up.”

— Mary Lambert

To support the work you’re doing with her, a coach will almost always inquire early on in your relationship about self-care. The critical takeaway for coaching yourself is that proper self-care and the prioritization of self-care creates a solid and necessary foundation and background for everything else you’re working on in coaching.

So, are we talking about flossing and moisturizer or what? Ha. Ha. Maybe, but just for starters!

Self-care is being a loving and assiduous guardian of our personal needs. It’s tending to the whole gamut of our physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and social needs in a way that keeps us fresh, inspired, recharged…at our best.


Some key ideas about self-care:

  • If we aren’t for ourselves, then who will be? Think about it. It starts with each of us being firmly on our own side.

  • There are at least two awesome bidirectional aspects of self-care. The first is that being attentive to our overall welfare is a measure of our own self-worth — and, our sense of worthiness increases as we intensify our self-care efforts. The second is that when we treat ourselves well, we show others how to treat us. And, when others treat us well, that reinforces the likelihood that we continue to take care of ourselves at a high level.

  • Self-care comes first and must remain a priority. We can’t live fully or joyously from burnt-out, overcommitted, crazy-busy, busy-sick, overwhelmed shells of ourselves. [Keep this in perspective. We also often live best when we put others before ourselves, when we prioritize our relationships. Balance!]

  • If necessary, we need to shoo away the guilt and any self-negating ideas that would have us putting secondary obligations and everyone else’s needs always before our own.

  • Conscientious and excellent self-care is needed for optimal health, happiness, and productivity. For thriving.

  • We shine brighter, act from our best selves, and have more to give when our personal needs are met.

Those are some fundamentals that get you on the spectrum. At one end of this continuum is rudimentary self-care. At the other is extreme or radical self-care. Coach yourself to get on the spectrum and cover the basics. From there, work on creating a life of self-caring, building over time the habits that support an ongoing, escalating path to the other brilliant end.


Take an Inventory

On a scale of 1 (eek, not on the spectrum) to 10 (at the max and thriving for it!), where are you with these self-care staples (as you interpret them for your life)?

Keep in mind that the essence of self-care is your sustainable and vibrant well-being — tending to yourself first and well so that all other things are better, easier, and possible. This inventory is not about Are you working out two hours a day? It’s about Are you getting enough exercise to take care of yourself? To feel great…to feel fantastic? It’s not Are you volunteering at marathon levels? It’s Are you engaged in the right activities at the right level to nourish yourself? To feel whole? To prosper and shine?

  • High-quality sleep _____

  • Eating healthy foods, consuming enough water, maintaining a balanced diet _____

  • Exercise, movement, stretching, walking, sweating, sports _____

  • Fresh air, nature, outdoor activities _____

  • Relaxation, down time, energy replenishment _____

  • Laughter, fun, play _____

  • Touch, hugs, massage, affection, sex _____

  • Love, appreciation, acceptance _____

  • Peace of mind, ease, security _____

  • Contentment, comfort, satisfaction _____

  • Time and space for breathing, thinking, making good decisions, creative problem solving, noticing your feelings, coaching yourself _____

  • Connectedness with yourself and with your best self, your dreams, your goals, your values, your priorities _____

  • Connectedness with friends, friendship, socializing _____

  • Connectedness with the world, with causes that matter to you (civic, social issues, culture, philanthropy, etc.) _____

  • Connectedness with spirit, mindfulness, meditation, fellowship _____

  • Financial health and stability _____

  • Intellectual stimulation _____

  • Attention to your appearance and self-presentation _____

  • Add your own:

______________________________________________ _____ ______________________________________________ _____ ______________________________________________ _____


Your Coaching To-Do’s

⎕ Review the above inventory, spending a few moments with each item absorbing the meaning of how you rated yourself. What does that number (your own assignation, not anyone else’s) mean for your life and your plans?

⎕ Spend time on a walk or in meditation capturing for yourself why self-care matters to you. Expand that to a consideration of extreme self-care. What would extreme self-care do for you? What would it look like and feel like?

⎕ In your journal, begin charting a course for your self-care journey. Once you have a starter plan in place, employ the tools and ideas of accountability (big idea 9) to keep yourself on track.

⎕ Did you notice in the inventory just how many needs one may have and the kinds of perhaps unnoticed distinctions that may exist between things we tend to lump together? Exercise can be stretching, walking, sweating, and many other things. There’s a difference between laughter and play, between meditation and time for thinking. For a deeper exploration of the range of human needs, check out the needs inventory at the Center for Nonviolent Communication: Note the specific needs from their list that call out to you and include them under “Add your own” above.

*affiliate link