When we started The Self-Care Experiment we wanted to give all of us the opportunity to see what could happen if we truly prioritized self-care. Not just the physical stuff and certainly not the quick-fix spa day or mini-break types (although sign us up because nobody’s saying no to that!), but the more every day, routine kinds of things that we thought might have an impact on our day-to-day lives. Things we felt were feasible to accomplish for the mind, body, and spirit.
So the Self-Care Experiment Table of Elements was created, and off we went to get the help we needed to make it all happen – because after all, the first Rule of Self-Care at Handled is to give 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.
Some of what we tried were things we had longed for – getting back into the fitness groove, or going for our first (and second) ever float. Others, like journaling were things we’d heard so much about and had a bit of FOMO because we hadn’t done it and didn’t know what we were missing (except for everyone telling us about it all the time!).
What we realized was somewhat unexpected. *cue sentimental instrumental riff*
Things we had always wanted to try but never dared, challenged and excited us – dare we say we felt just a little proud that we didn’t actually collapse on that spin bike!? Some things, like purposefully setting friend-dates brought us back to the simple truth that you get as much out of your relationships as you put into them – and that the effort is not always exactly reciprocal. But more that you practice reaching out, the more connection, clarity, and intimacy you received – so does it really matter who did the asking when the benefits are positive?
We’d been told as much as anyone that putting yourself first often means putting into your calendar like an appointment or a meeting. And we admit – at first that seemed easy to do (thanks to deadlines to report back!) but somehow at some stage we started to resist it. Even self-care like daily fitness, which used to be our raison d’etre – or at least our reason to get up in the morning – seemed to wane when the deadline wasn’t looming.
And it occurred to us: sometimes, in order to take care of one’s Self, one has to create not just the appointment – but also a goal. Duh. Don’t we do this every day with so many other things? But in the case of the Self, when it’s so easy to fall back into old, ‘me last’ habits goals became extra important. And even though we’d committed to doing each activity for a whole week, after that point the truth really came out.
So what did we keep up with and what got tossed by the wayside like so much of last night’s takeaway?
Our Top Three Acts of Self-Care
OK, we might not want to admit to having any particular order here but when our trial of Hello Fresh ended we went through a bit of a break-up depression. What do you mean a box wouldn’t magically show up at the door like a bouquet of flowers after a fabulous date?! What do you mean we’d have to go back to planning, and grocery shopping, and slicing and dicing, and throwing out more wilting ingredients than we’d ever want to!?
We loved the recipes so much that to keep the flame lit we repeated a couple of them the following weeks. We felt nourished and excited to come home and try something new each night – and to have just enough leftovers for the following day’s lunch.
And they were just as delicious as when Hello Fresh delivered the ingredients themselves. The things is, even though we might have saved some money, we couldn’t select the exact amounts for a 2-person serving, and ended up with a bunch of nebbish-y bits and pieces languishing in the fridge.
So is the cost, flavour, and time saved worth it? A thousand times, YES!
WE JUST CAN’T QUIT YOU, HELLO FRESH!
So much so that we think that you should try it too. For those who really can’t cook, absolutely go for eFresh Meals. They made life so much easier and took all the work away all you needed to do was reheat and enjoy.
We said it before and we’ll say it again: our friends are like oxygen. We can’t go without that connection, but when we don’t prioritize it, we could go months without seeing or being with even our best-besties. Making sure that we led the way to book and confirm our dates helped us stay in touch even when it might have taken weeks to get together in person. At least we were touching base, sharing about our days, and looking forward to our in-person catch up seshes. We actually found that we made more creative plans more often (Reggae night, anyone?), and sometimes getting together meant accompanying a friend on a trip to Home Depot to compare keypad locks. We were able to support our friends’ professional and personal endeavours more often because we’d committed to it. Hey, we all think we know our friends know that we support them even from afar, but there’s nothing like being present to witness each other’s journeys.
Our test of self-talk podcasts really surprised us! Not only are we still along for the ride with the Left-Brained Hippie (it’s so much fun learning along with Shelsey, she’s so approachable), but we also started listening to a couple of professional development podcasts too! We’ll be totally honest: sometimes it’s a bit of an internal struggle to decide between listening to something educational versus something that’s just pure fun, but the point is balance, #amirite? So we often toggle between our podcasts and the ‘80s Hard Rock playlist on Spotify, and we don’t care who knows it… #guiltypleasure
Our Remaining Three
It took us a bit to really get the hang of that affirmation part of the 5 Minute Journal but once we did it, it really clicked and pretty much became clockwork. That said, we have noticed we’ve missed a few entries each week and we’re still trying to get better at that. We really do notice a difference in the rhythm of our days when we journal versus when we don’t. When we begin the day with a practice of gratitude, and the intention to come back to our journals that night to record the amazing things that happened in our day that day we can’t help but be set up to look out for what’s wonderful and special. There’s less time and energy to spend on the neutral or negative. And to us, that’s the most convincing reason we have to keep at it.
Daily fitness used to be a top priority in our lives and somehow we really fell off that bandwagon. So getting back on was a bit tough. Class Pass was the best choice to make it happen and we’d do that again for sure because it gave us ‘permission’ to try new and curious things. We’re still thinking about that first reformer class and we’re working that into our fitness mix combined with the classic resistance training we’ve always loved. The result? Daily gym seshes haven’t been in the cards, but we’ve definitely upped our weekly fitness game and it feels so great to be back (except for that first leg day. Took us about three days to fully recover from that one!).
Floating was a wild experience! Even if our first float began as a comedy of errors before it was truly calming, we definitely understand the benefits of that an hour of zero stimulation can provide to our mind, body, and spirit. We could feel our parasympathetic nervous system reset. But, unlike the other self-care exercises, floating requires making a trip to a destination that’s not regularly on our ‘flight paths’, so we already know we’re less likely to favour it. Instead, yoga is more our flavour for this kind of self-care. We get the meditational reset and we get to move. Kind of feels like a twofer. That said, floating is a one of a kind, kind of meditation that we’re likely to do on a monthly or bi-monthly basis as opposed to weekly which was one of the goals of the Experiment.
The bonus of what we experienced was that the very act of asking for help to get us on the path to self-care was always met with affirmation. That in itself showed us the intrinsic value of making ourselves a priority. No-one judged or dismissed the necessity of it. In fact, the curiosity, the desire to embark on purposeful self-care as well (our siblings even bought their own 5 Minute Journals!), and the incredible conversations around self-care opened up avenues and deepened the intimacy of our relationships because the taboo was released. And that, we discovered, was self-care all in and of itself!
Did you follow along with us on our intrepid journey? What would you want to try for yourself? What would you like us to try and report back to you about?