Think of the words ‘Self Care.’ Did you conjure up a dream sequence of days spent at the spa, dependent-free, work-free, stress-free? An ongoing state of zero responsibility? Languid days and luxurious indulgence? (OMG that actually does sound really good right about now…)
Back to reality: ringing phones, jammed inboxes, a cluttered desk, to-do list upon to-do list, and 18 people desperately needing You. Right. Now. *silent scream!*
When we’re over-stretched, stressed, and frenetic, the little things that keep us healthy and sane – actual ongoing self-care – are usually the first to go. “It’s just not necessary,” we tell ourselves.
So, we skip meals to respond to waiting colleagues and clients, we forego workouts to get to the next meeting. We shuttle between appointments, barely stopping to notice how drained we are until we fall into bed with eyes wide and brain still working a mile a minute. The lists pile up and the cycle continues until the only thing we can think to do is escape (replay that dream sequence).
Let’s put aside the allure of pulling the cord on a parachute outta here or, at the very least, repeated solo evenings of Netflix, Cab Sav, and Cherry Garcia (a delicious pairing, but I digress). We know the former isn’t realistic and the latter isn’t great for the waistline. So here’s a thought: what if the most helpful self-care actually isn’t anything dramatic or indulgent?
“WHAT?” you gasp, “The ‘right’ way to do self-care isn’t Gwyneth-approved $50 a shot superfood elixirs, spa days, and 8-hand massages?” Nope. That’s lovely stuff though, sign us all up! In truth, those are pie in the sky, once in a blue moon things. Fun, but not sustainable. And what you deserve is to be able to feel capable, comfortable, less stressed, and happier consistently.
Above all else: self-care is about giving yourself permission to ask for, and enlist, the help you need so that you can focus on the most important things in your life, and be present to experience them more fully. Hey, my definition of self-care might differ from yours, and yours might differ from that of your partner’s or friend’s. Self-care is as individual as our personalities! For a friend of mine, for example, a fine form of self-care is buying some new music and playing it at eardrum pounding volume and singing (actually, screaming) along to it. While for me, a daily self-care routine is going to a musicless yoga class where the sound of our collective breathing grounds me and brings me a sense of ease (and is my friend’s definition of a personal Hell).
Self-care can mean…
- Letting little things wait a bit so you can enjoy one or two that fill you up. It’s not about doing ‘stuff’ and ‘things’ because. Those are called ‘errands.’ It’s about doing stuff and things for you. The world won’t end if the laundry waits while you meet a friend for a long overdue coffee date. Nope! Nope-nope-nope it won’t. I’d wager that the worst thing that could happen is discovering that going commando is more fun than you thought it’d be. Hmm, maybe that’s the best thing?
- Making physical fitness non-negotiable. Movement is a well-known stress reliever, helping you find more patience and joy. Hooray for endorphins! We all need it – every day. Whether you love to hit up a HIIT class, head out for a lunchtime walk, take a dance class, or even skateboard to work, the activity itself isn’t as important as getting your body moving! It’s amazing how much pent up energy you can release when you take the time to move!! Side benefit? More endorphins mean fewer spontaneous downward dogs necessary during high-stress meetings (unless everyone else is into it too).
- Creating a playdate for your kids so you can have a moment of solitude. Get a haircut! Wander the grocery store and read labels if that floats your boat. See a movie, read a book, take a nap! Take care of yourself and know that you’ll be able to return the favour another day. It takes a village, remember?
- Connecting with those you love most. One of the most important things we can do for our well-being is spend unhurried time with the people who mean the most to us, and it’s something we often eschew in favour of other pressing things that just have to get done. While you’re scheduling in your time for movement, schedule in a weekly slot to connect with one loved one in person or on the phone for a couple of hours – and take in how wonderful it is to share the intimacy of friendship and family. Watch and see how much happier, relaxed, and connected you feel!
Of course, these are only some suggestions for self-care. By no means is it an exhaustive list or even the ‘right’ way to do self-care for you. What are your preferred self-care activities? Do you know what fills your cup and brings you a sense of emotional, mental, or spiritual well-being? If not – do you even know how to figure that stuff out?
If those questions make you gulp and feel like there’s yet another thing you have to learn to be #Instaperfect, take a nice deep breath. The next time we’re together here, I’m going to answer these questions and I’ll have a fun announcement to make too!