Self Care gets a lot of flak for the recent trend in media and the extent of how much people think the #treatyourself is the same thing.
It’s not. It really isn’t.
Self Care is your responsibility
Self Care is just an acknowledgment that there are a few more moving parts to get you to the best health that you can be without sacrificing things that are important.
Self Care is more than just taking a break whenever you feel like it. It’s taking a break on a schedule because you know that you’re going to burn yourself dry if you don’t.
Self Care is more than just eating the food in front of you because that’s what you think will taste good. It’s eating that salad because how else are you going to rationalize eating three servings of vegetables today.
Self Care isn’t going to the gym and posting a selfie. It’s lifting weights or doing that cardio that you hate while you’re doing it, but does it feel good when you’re done. Especially when you check that off your to-do list for the day?
Coloring in my to-do list is my bribe to get things done. In the last post, I talk about how I need that long list of things to do, small stuff that adds up to my good days. It is a bit annoying to have this almost fully done day and have that stupid exercise be the last thing on the day that is left to do. It may not be the best workout that I’ve ever done, but it was done.
What Matters Adds Up
We all know that we need to shower and brush our teeth and do all the other list of things that we teach toddlers to do on their own. Self Care really is just an extension of that list.
It’s reading a chapter of a book to improve yourself every single day because you’ve come to understand that you don’t need everything that a person puts in a book, but you want to see what nugget will work for your life.
It’s figuring out that you really do need 8 full hours of sleep and that it will take you two hours to fall asleep because your imagination won’t be put to work to get into dream land. It’s not beating yourself up for that fact but making sure that you aren’t overcommitted so that you can’t get that essential part of your life in line.
It’s turning down things that don’t spark your interest or further your interests because it sidetracks you from the end goal*. This is you and your life and much as it is a journey and not a destination, you need to head the directions that will give you joy rather than travel to the Pit of Despair because someone said that they liked it there. (Rescuing the love of your life is an appropriate reason to go there, BTW.)
How to Make that Transition to Self Care
and why can’t anyone else do it for me, I’m busy…
The whole point of self care is that no one is a mind reader, even your mother who knows if you are sick when you live one thousand miles away.
This is about you doing what makes you healthy, happy, and helpful. Because when you are at your best you are bringing your best and that makes you feel even better and it’s a nice upward cycle that we all wish we were on. Especially now, when tempers are short and space is limited in our homes six weeks after retreating to them.
This change is you making the decision that your health really isn’t an option. It’s drinking more water, working out more, having the time to do something that is fun. Because those are things that energize you.
It’s sleeping enough at night, getting your phone out of the room, removing blue lights, the whole nine yards if that is what you need. I can tell you that my own sleep is better when I can’t reach for my phone at night.
I will say that self care is more about adding things into your life and in the process you will have less time for things that don’t matter. Some progress on this part is not just a mental game, though that is the place where most of us will grow the most because for a long time, it’s been pushed to the wayside. It’s been an afterthought for most of us.
I didn’t have that luxury, because much as most of my problems are in my head– the constant criticism in my father’s voice, the self doubt, the anger at how my plans turned out– I had to work with those problems or I wouldn’t have made it to this day and age.
I had to pick my battles and I learned early on that nothing is just a physical battle, there’s a mental component, an emotional component, and other bits and bobs that show up when you didn’t think they should have a say, but hindsight is like ‘duh’.
So in the middle of a pandemic where we have to learn a whole new set of social expectations, let’s add a few more that make us a little more well-rounded individuals and see where we are in six months after trying to improve things we’ve left to their own devices.
*That is not to say that you should say such things to your boss without lots of evidence why you should really remain focused on X project. This is a soft sell of you needed me on this more than that.