Take a look around… the media has flooded the market on self-care. So much so that it has actually altered the definition to make self-care synonymous with overindulgence. Self-care is the practice of taking action to preserve your mental and physical health. It is an act of safeguarding your well being. It is not about eating that extra cookie or maxing out your credit card at the local day spa.
Self-care is not glamorous, in fact it is not even pretty, most of the time. Self-care can be extremely difficult because it invites you to focus the camera lens on yourself. Forcing you to acknowledge your imperfections and ask yourself, “How can my life be better?” Self-care is all about making the modifications necessary to live a more fulfilling life. A life that you appreciate, not one that you need to run away from or drown out with wine and Netflix. It is a daily practice like gratitude or mindfulness and it takes concerted effort and persistence.
Self-care is all about leaning into discomfort long enough to learn why you are so uncomfortable in the first place. Self-care involves being mindful of what your body needs on any given day or even given moment for that matter. This means that what we need today may look very different from what we need tomorrow.
Let's look at exhibit A. Yesterday I was up most of the night with my son. I asked my husband to drive my daughter to school while I lingered in bed the following morning. I knew I had a bunch of things to check off my to-do list, but rest was more important. That was yesterday.
Now for exhibit B. Today I still woke up exhausted, as my son was up most of the yet night again (I am sure you are seeing a pattern here). But today I needed something different. I needed to feel a sense of mastery. That meant waking up extra early. I got my toddler ready so he could join his sister and I on our daily ride to school. I knew that I had a lot of errands to run and if I left him home with my husband, who wasn’t feeling well, I would let guilt get in the way of an enjoyable morning. That was today.
What will tomorrow bring…to be honest I am really not sure. What I do know is that I have been practicing mindfulness long enough to trust that my body will tell me what it needs tomorrow.
So how do you determine what your needs are? Follow these five tips to figure it out...
Tip #1: Notice the invisible load that you put on yourself. Identify what is essential and learn to let go!
Hint: Your kid will survive if you forget to move his ELF ON THE SHELF.
Tip #2: Ask for help. Allow yourself to be vulnerable!
Hint: Being VULNERABLE is the quickest way to connect with others.
Tip #3: Learn when overindulgence is a nice gift or a means of self-sabotage!
Hint: If you are acting on impulse to distract, OVERINDULGENCE is not the best choice.
Tip #4: Minimize wherever possible! Research shows that clutter induces anxiety. Who needs that?
Hint: Your kid doesn't need that extra gift. When in doubt throw it OUT.
Tip #5: Meditate!
Hint: YOU DO have the time.
Final Thoughts: Utilizing manufactured self-care such as manicures and massage can temporarily calm the nervous system. This doesn’t mean that it is a long-term solution to a frenzied disconnected life. Self-care is living in alignment with your truth. Meditation can help you learn what that means for you. Once the harsh internal dialogue begins to soften your needs will become clearer. You can begin to have more confidence in your choices. Over time it will become blatantly obvious who should be gifted with your time and what needs to take a rain check.
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