Self-care is often confused with selfishness, so frequently comes very low down on people's "To do" list - just under "clean out the garage" and "take jacket to the drycleaners". When looking after ourselves is actually our most important job, why does it always seem to come last for most women?
What is good self-care? It is fuelling our body with good quality nutrients and regular exercise; it is living life with purpose and intention, not just slogging through each day.
Self-care is about making sure we have a positive frame of mind and aren't besieged by worry. It's about embracing rest, sleeping well and feeling full of energy and purpose.
So self-care sounds great. And let's face it, it's not rocket science. Why then do so many of us struggle to apply, on a consistent basis, what we know? What I see again and again is that many busy women juggling multiple responsibilities, like work and family, start thinking somewhere along the line that taking time out for themselves is selfish, or something that can only happen when everyone else is taken care of.
They are always at the end of the list, which builds resentment and saps energy.
As someone once debilitated by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, I now look at things differently. I think that not putting your own self-care first is selfish. If you are run ragged by the demands of life you will never be able to give your best to others - you're depriving them of the wonderful person you can be. Racing to fulfill every demand without coming up for air means you can't be truly present and connected in your interactions; you're always thinking about "what next".
Creating a self-care baseline is an important contract to make with yourself, whether it's a monthly massage, an hour alone to read your favourite books, or a weekly Pilates class that's just a non-negotiable. It's the equivalent of putting your own oxygen mask on first in the plane before helping others.
Try listing a couple of things you can easily add into your life that will recharge and nourish you - and commit to making them happen. Remember, the more you give to yourself, the more you will have to share with others.
Louise Thompson is a life coach, yoga teacher and corporate escapee. For more from Louise visit positivebalance.co.nz.