Loving self-care, as I am using the term, means giving oneself the gift of presence while engaged in the activities of self-care. Some of us who live with chronic illness spend a lot of time engaged in self-care, and our state of mind during that time affects the results of that self-care.
Imagine caring for yourself to the same degree as you would care for a newborn baby—fully engaged in the activity. Just as a person caring for a helpless infant is always alert to its needs, when we engage in loving self-care we continually ask ourselves what we need in order to feel better and have the chance to improve our health.
The fact that there are no cures for the more than a hundred identified autoimmune diseases, or for chronic conditions in general, does not mean we are helpless victims. However, it does mean that unlike healthy people, we need to be more proactive.
Most mothers derive meaning and purpose from caring for young children who are utterly dependent upon them. In much the same way, our own care, survival, vitality, and quality of life are intrinsically worthy endeavors. We make choices in every moment, but most of the time they are beneath our conscious awareness. A commitment to living with presence and intentionality can change that. Loving self-care can be a type of mindfulness practice—actually a way of life leading to a better life.