What do you think of when you think of Self-Care?
My immediate thoughts go to vacations at resorts or retreats with massages, having no cell phone/internet connection, someone making me food, someone else doing the cleaning and the laundry, having the days unfold out before me completely open for running, taking yoga classes, and meditating, having nowhere to be, going to bed early, getting up a little later – sounds really delicious, right?!
Realistically, however, we may not have the time or the funds to make these kinds of things our regular self-care practices. I know I can’t, anyway. That said, it doesn’t mean that we should give up on the idea of self-care completely just because we can’t go away on a retreat for 10 days. Instead, we can start to look for the opportunities to feed ourselves throughout each day. Anytime we do something good for us, it is an act of self-care; if it feeds you mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, it is self-care.
For example: the other day, we all got up sort of tired and grouchy and slow-moving. We were supposed to go see a show in the morning, which initially we were excited about, but at the same time had no real motivation to do so. Instead, we allowed ourselves to have a slow day – eating breakfast without rushing; lounging around on the couch, under a blanket, reading books; watching a little gymnastics; playing gymnastics - that was about all we could do. And, it was exactly what we needed. We needed to give our bodies the time to ease into the day, our minds the space not to rush or stick to a schedule, our hearts and spirits the room to hang out and play and reconnect. And you know what, those few hours of self-care re-energized us! We ended up catching the show later in the day, and Maddie got to play a small role on the stage. So it all worked out perfectly.
As I think more about self-care and what it means to me as I juggle work, family, a larger home, two dogs, etc., I’ve begun to look at it like a menu or a well-balanced diet. Rather than there being one super-amazing self-care act that I indulge in every once in a while, I try to carve out a mix of smaller things that feed me with a larger thing peppered in when I can. This way, I’m actually taking care of myself every day – not just 10 days out of a whole year. As a result, I feel better in the long run because I’m not simply waiting for that next vacation or that next massage.
Here are some things you can try to make your well-being a priority and to bring self-care practices into your life more regularly:
1) Figure out what self-care means to you – what activities feed your body, your mind, your soul? Is it gardening, reading, camping, practicing yoga, getting a massage, watching a movie, going for a walk, more time with your family, more time alone…
Write it all down, from the most basic ideas to the most extravagant ideas. Don’t censor yourself or feel like you can’t possibly go on that retreat because of money or time or logistics - let yourself be free of that for now and just get it all down on paper.
2) Break them into groups:
3) Begin to put the ones you’d like to do daily into your daily life first, so you can benefit right way from self-care. Even 5 or 10 minutes a day can go a long way.
4) In a week, or once you feel like you’ve got your daily practice somewhat established, look at the list of things you’d like to do once a week and figure out when you can do them and begin to get them into the rhythm of your schedule.
5) After a couple of weeks, or when you feel like you’ve got your daily and weekly practices fairly established, look at your bigger ticket self-care practices – these are the once-a-month-ers or the every-six-months-to-a-year practices, and see if you can realistically put them into your life.
Whatever you do for yourself, appreciate your efforts. Whatever you can’t do right now, don’t worry about – just bringing your desires to the forefront of your mind brings positive energy behind them. Trust that you will, at some point, find a way to bring them all to fruition.
And please be kind with yourself!! If you forget or run out of time for your daily practice, don’t beat yourself up about it. If you can do something for you for even 5 minutes before you go to bed, that’s important. And then simply begin again the next day with the intention of making your self-care higher on the priority list.
Peace, Love and Bliss,
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