“What are you doing for self care?” A common question thrown around these days, but what does it really mean? For some, immediate images of bubble baths, friends nights out and scoops of ice cream come to mind. Self care can certainly include (insert ‘treat yourself’ activity here). But this way of thinking makes self care reactive. It’s what we chose to do to recover and react when we’ve already taken on too much and perhaps it’s too late. It’s another thing on your to-do list, another expectation. True self care is sometimes hard. Taking care of yourself is doing the things you may not want to do, not to treat or reward yourself for working extra hard today, but because it promotes health and wellness every day. Self care is meant to be habit forming. Think: regular movement of your body, adequate nutrition and hydration, a good sleep routine. Self care is the regular, ordinary things we do everyday that take care of our needs. Author Brianna Wiest says beautifully that “true self care is not bath salts and chocolate cake, it’s making the choice to build a life you don’t need to escape from”.
Having said that, completing regular, ordinary things that are good for us is not always easy. How many times have you climbed into bed without brushing your teeth? Or skipped dinner and opted for a late night snack instead? Thought to yourself “I’ll do that tomorrow” or “I’m too tired right now” or “I don’t have time for myself, I’m too busy taking care of others”? It can be easy to bypass our own needs when it feels inconvenient. The beauty is, that if you invest in a regular self care routine, you may not get to the point of complete and utter exhaustion. Here are a few tips to start a self care routine today:
You can’t boil the ocean. You can boil a small cup at a time. Pick one small change you can make today that doesn’t feel daunting or impossible. You want to set yourself up for success.
Think outside the box.
Self care is not just about adding more things to your life: more vegetables, more water, more movement. It can also be about subtracting things from your life. Examine things, processes, tasks and people and see if anything is contributing too much negativity than can be removed.
Connect with yourself
Self care is personal, it will look different for everyone. Start by taking a look within and really asking yourself “what do I need right now?”. You might be surprised how intuitive your body is. It may need rest, it may need water, it may need movement, and yes, it may even need a bubble bath and ice cream.