How appropriate that my schedule listed Self Care as the topic for this weeks’ blog, because I got really sick and was forced to spend a LOT of time taking care of myself, and had time to think about self care as well.
This is another area of my life where I struggle to maintain focus and consistency. If it were up to me, I would totally live inside my brain—thinking, reading, writing, and creating art. I would never have to stop a project in order to do silly things like eating food, brushing my teeth, or plucking the pesky crazy chin hairs that have started popping up in my life on a regular basis! I might be more inclined to go to the gym if…nope, there’s not really anything that makes me actually want to go to the gym! (If you have tips on this, please share!) I know that I feel better when I eat regularly, when I go to the gym or do some yoga, and when I take a shower! I just have a hard time making these things a priority.
One self care ritual that does come naturally to me is writing and reading. I’ll journal all day if you let me. I’ll read inspirational books and think about how to apply the lessons that they teach to my own life.
Recently, I had a conversation that changed my entire approach to self care, and that’s why I put the topic on the list of things to write about. Here’s what I learned:
Self care is not a reward
This is exactly how I was thinking about my self care, and I didn’t even realize it until she pointed it out to me. I was waiting to eat until I did a certain amount of tasks. I was waiting to shower until I had completed so many chores. I was allowing myself the ability to put down my responsibilities in order to read or relax only after I got past that arbitrary point on my to-do list that I’d created for myself.
Self care is also not optional. I was missing that aspect when I thought about it. I had an image in my head of massages, bubble baths, and face masks as self care. Those extras really could be considered rewards or special occasion treats for times when we want to celebrate a goal reached or a task accomplished. But that’s not the full picture when it comes to self care.
Self care is actually taking a step back (if you have trouble with it) and looking at your life and realizing that EVERYTHING needs maintenance and care in order to run properly. Our cars need gas, and oil, and tire changes. Car washes aren’t even frivolous because they help maintain the materials that make up the body of the car. If you don’t wash your car regularly, rust and other deterioration happens a lot faster.
Our homes need to be cleaned, we need to fix the little things that break, and do preventative measures like adding salt to our water softeners, and checking our fire extinguishers and alarms. At our house, we have to call a plumber every 2 years to get a pipe routed out or our basement floods. The maintenance saves us from emergencies.
We feed our children and our pets everyday. We make their doctor appointments, dentist appointments, or grooming appointments.
I realized that I was taking care of all the other humans and animals, and all the things in my life. But I wasn’t taking good care of me. Self care is simply maintenance—but we have to do it ourselves because as adults, we’re responsible for our own maintenance.
Why can this seem overwhelming? Because we don’t take time to do this on a regular basis, and wait until our bodies are screaming EMERGENCY!, until our engine lights are blinking, and our metaphorical basements are flooding. When you’re standing in ankle-deep water, wondering what to do next, you don’t have time to address the cause until you clean up the effect.
Which brings me to last week, when I was supposed to be writing this post. Instead, I was sleeping, sick and exhausted. AGAIN. I hit full-on crash and burn mode. I had a list of self care that needed to become a part of my schedule that was literally a page long, but I hadn’t implemented any of it yet.
On this list?
- Start taking my supplements and vitamins again
- Drink more water
- Get back to the gym and start doing yoga again
- Get back on my anti-inflammatory diet that helps with my PCOS
- Make a doctor appointment
- Make a dentist appointment
(See, all these things are just regular maintenance necessities that I wasn’t doing. And I wonder why I was sick?!)
I am also creating a second list, of things that help me to relax and feed my soul. I’m putting them in my planner as priority items that I will do in order to take care of me. These are all simple and free.
My Self Care List
- Take a hot bath
- Use my foam roller, or use the sauna or steam room at the gym after exercising
- Drink tea, make a latte, or eat a snack
- Color, paint, or draw
- Do a face mask or paint my nails
- Go on a nature walk
- Watch a movie or listen to music
- Pet a cat
- Turn off my phone for the evening
- Dance in my kitchen
I’ve decided that none of those things are rewards. If I have some money to spare, having lunch with my girlfriends, getting a massage, or buying myself flowers are also things that I might do to reset my mind and spirit. But I’m not using them as rewards anymore. I don’t have to spend a week at the gym in order to have a snack. I don’t have to eat healthy all week in order to go out with my friends on Friday. I don’t have to work for 2 hours in the morning before I take my shower.
I’ll keep you all updated on my progress with this goal of not turning self care into a reward, and I’d love to hear from you. What is your best strategy for making time for yourself? What are your favorite things to do to reset and center? Do you wanna go to a yoga class with me?
Sending love out to you all! Take CARE. 🙂