I’m French. I was born in Paris, and I only lived there until the age of two and a half. However, no matter where I lived (Switzerland, New York, Rhode Island, Boston, Atlanta), I had the influence of a French mother and lots of French (and European influence) in my life. My father was from Munich. My upbringing and my life inside the home were European... always. Only when I stepped out the door to go to school or later on to go to work did I have a totally American life.
There isn't a proper French translation for the word self-care. And when you think about it, for so many of us self-care feels like one more thing to add to our already long to-do list. It requires even more energy than we already have, so what would be enticing about adding self-care even when we know we so desperately need it?
Coming from my French heritage, I'd like to offer you a different approach... one that you might actually enjoy.
In France we have the notion, embedded in who we are, to prendre soin de soi which translates as taking care of yourself, but it also invokes the feeling of doing so joyfully from within you, rather than something that's outside of you which you must fit into your schedule, do, and check off to be ok with yourself at the end of your day. Rather, prendre soin de soi is a pleasurable activity.
For as long as I remember, I have naturally infused my daily life with well-being activities and small luxury pleasures to elevate my routine and to feel great and more relaxed. But what does self-care really mean to a French woman? And what exactly are her secrets to self-care?
A French woman’s self-care approach is more a way of living and it’s pretty much something she practices in her daily life, and from a young age. For this, I am thankful to my mother, not so much because she taught me how, but rather because she modeled it so effortlessly, that I picked it up as a natural state.
A French woman typically does not spend a fortune on drastic health treatments, intense workout classes, or the latest healthy cookbook obsession. Instead, the way a French woman cares for herself is more about doing something each day. It’s naturally embedded in her daily routine, and is usually a ritual passed from the previous generation.
For a French woman, self-care is all about slowing down the pace of life to enjoy the small things that she knows deep down will make her happy. She takes the time to enjoy life.
In my over four decades of living in the United States, I sometimes lost sight of slowing down and enjoying life. Thankfully not for very long... I would very quickly feel my wellbeing slip away from me, and become aware of the un-sustainability of pushing through and forcing for too long. This is not to say that when we go all out, push through and achieve that we don't feel the thrill from the accomplishment and revel in the satisfaction of it.
My purpose in sharing this with you is to advance the idea of integrating leadership and lifestyle. In my experience who we are in our personal leadership influences our ability to lead ourselves and others professionally. Entire energy fields open up when we are at our best with ourselves.
So, how does a French woman approach wellness? In our current landscape of over-commitment and burnout, I want to offer you another way. Consider the laissez-faire (let it be in English) approach and see what you can begin to integrate into your life and leadership.
A French woman does not strive for perfection and it’s important to understand that you do not have to follow a comprehensive list of tips to feel great and relaxed. You do not need to make drastic changes to your routine, but rather adopt one, two, or three which you know you’ll enjoy. The French approach to self-care is, first and foremost about feeling good about yourself, which is a radically different experience from having something imposed on you.
I invite you to take a more relaxed approach to wellbeing.
Welcome your imperfections... these make you charming and beautiful.
Appreciate the small pleasures in life... these bring you closer to your wellbeing.
Embrace spending time alone... so you get to know yourself.
Ask yourself these powerful questions to tune into what's in season for you right now.
Spend time with yourself at a café, slow down, journal, appreciate. Or go for a walk in nature and look up at the sun and the sky and feel the expansiveness of you. What essence qualities can you reconnect with to feel authentically supported in your self-care?
I'd love to hear from you? What speaks to you about a French woman's approach to self-care to support your leadership and lifestyle?
Françoise Everett, MS is a facilitator, feminine leadership coach, author, speaker and lifestyle business owner. She works and supports women entrepreneurs and women who hold leadership positions by unlocking their inner wisdom, feminine power, and hidden richness.