Self Care = Other Care
Self-care is essential to be our best selves. It's not self-indulgent, it's self-preservation and it helps us take care of others.
I’ve recently become aware of how much I was neglecting my own self-care. If you’re one of the many people that feels stressed by adding one more thing to your “to-dol list,” as I did, maybe this will help you see it as a way of life rather than a checklist.
Self-care doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone, you will have to decide what actions help you feel better, we all have unique needs.
Here is a list of what I determined to be my way of doing self-care:
Meditation and mindfulness
Drink enough water
Take a walk
Walk around barefoot in dirt or grass
Get a massage and/or facial
Shop, prepare and eat healthy foods
Spend time in nature
Take a relaxing bath
Practice yoga or Tai Chi
Practice deep breathing
Talk to my therapist as needed
Read something inspirational
Do something creative
Take care of my skin/hair
My list is overwhelming! It feels like way too much even though it's all good stuff.
It’s easy for me to fall into the “all or none” trap and think I MUST do ALL of these things EVERY week. But guess what - I don’t have to do any of them. Or I can pick and choose what I need, when and why.
Here is my instinctual and simple way of practicing daily self-care:
I tossed the idea of a list and instead focused on checking in with myself throughout each day to be aware of what I’m thinking and feeling. Then I give myself what I need at that moment or plan for it later when time permits. That’s it.
I feel lighter and freer knowing that I will get what I need when I need it rather than forcing myself to do all these things in order to feel like I’m taking care of me.
Here’s what it looks like for me when I am mindful of how I’m feeling/thinking throughout the day:
Pain reminds me to drink more water and stretch or get a massage
Fatigue reminds me it's okay to lie down for awhile
Stress reminds me that I need to do deep breathing
Feeling depressed means I need to reach out, journal or look for someone who’s struggling more than I am to reach out to
Food choices become the question of “how will this make you feel after eating it? Is this food going to help or harm your body?” rather than “what do you feel like eating?” and paying for it later
Stiffness reminds me to stretch or do some yoga
Negative thoughts get kicked to the curb or examined to figure out where they're coming from.
Negative emotions get dealt with in the here and now (am I angry, resentful, fearful, judgmental, etc.) I take action instead of dwelling on it
Positive thoughts make me stop and feel gratitude or to reach out to whoever just crossed my mind to tell them I’m thinking of them
The list goes on and on but you get the idea
After losing Keven, ALL of my self-care went down the drain. I did none of these things and my body retaliated by gaining weight, losing flexibility and stamina, having a hard time breathing and experiencing chronic pain. Naturally I was devastated so I let myself off the hook and was “gentle” with myself in order to just get through the initial first months.
I wanted to lie in bed and cry for the rest of my life. I was in survival mode, I was traumatized, devastated, heartbroken. But I didn’t lie in bed back then, it wasn't an option. I got up and did what I had to do each day, like we all do even when we don't feel like it.
The bottom line is - we need to take care of ourselves so we can get by when we're older and possibly all alone AND so we can help each other when they need us.
All of us have devastation to live with these days. It affects the people we love and our global community. Babies dying because there's not enough baby formula, a country full of innocent people being attacked and killed, thousands of people dying from fentanyl poisoning, murder, opioid overdoses, suicide, racially motivated mass shootings all over the USA, natural disasters, COVID, gas prices, houses burned down because the electric company messed up...and so much more.
Now more than ever we self-care is important.
We need one another, undivided, on the same page to support each other through personal and/or global hard times. As a "friend" says in one of his songs, "times are tough, and just getting tougher." Let's hope he's wrong.