I was talking on the phone with a friend the other day, just catching up on the past few months since we last chatted. A lot has happened in both of our lives, we’re both going through some stuff and doing some intentional – and difficult – growing and stretching.
Among the updates, my friend expressed her support and excitement for me, and also her empathy around the challenging bits. And then, she asked me directly:
“What are you doing for self-care?”
I had to take a pause at that one. First, because seriously, I am one blessed woman to have friends like this in my life. Second, because I actually had to think about it. And when I did, I had to admit that it wasn’t a lot, and it wasn’t exactly definable, but it was what was working for me now.
My self-care right now looks like moving my body daily, but in whatever way, for whatever amount of time I feel like – nothing structured or planned, but always there. My self-care looks like true intuitive eating – a bit of prepping here and there, but, like, prepping pizza pasta, not chicken and rice, and no restricting. My self-care looks like meditating once or twice a week – not more because it’s already a challenging practice. Therapy, obviously. Doing less, as I mentioned recently.
Really, as I told my friend, my self-care is bare minimums right now, and it’s not a structured routine, but that’s what I need. Because if I go through this whole thing of needing to or shoulding about it, I won’t do it at all.
Which, I think, is a bit of a problem with self-care overall right now. It’s become another part of the Wellness Industrial Complex, pressurized and monetized, and that nonsense ends up working completely the opposite of how we want and expect that self-care should.
Like, if I think a bit more about it, I would name something else in my self-care routine that I couldn’t identify the other day: watching TV. And hear me out! Because it’s probably another thing that a lot of people would say is not really self-care.
But for me, watching a few select television shows enables me to set aside my crushing fucking anxiety for a couple of hours each night. It forces me to pay attention to those characters, that story, instead of the constant rumination and worry inside my head. And, watching new TV gets my creativity all fired up, it allows me to appreciate the art of it, and it gets me excited about people, and stories, and possibilities, and hope. TV has always been way deeper than entertainment for me.
Bottom line is that self-care isn’t a routine you find on Pinterest or Instagram or in a magazine. It’s not a predetermined thing by someone else. It’s a way of caring for yourself, or the parts of yourself that need tending. And of course, that’s different for every single one of us, and only you know your needs and how to meet them.
I appreciate my friend’s prompt so much for making me really think about this. And I appreciate her sharing what she’s doing for self-care too. It didn’t make me feel like I should be doing more, and that’s not my intention in talking about it with you today. But being forced to articulate something specific is almost always helpful and encouraging. I know I’ll now be paying close attention to this small handful of things, and to exactly how I’m feeling and taking care of myself.
I encourage you to think about this prompt too: What are you doing for self-care?
Articulate the specifics, and then evaluate. Are you able to name anything at all? Do those things feel like actual care? Are they meeting the needs of the parts of yourself that need nurturing? Are you going through the motions? Do you need a little more care? A little less? Something entirely different?
And then, with plenty of self-compassion, decide how you’ll begin to implement, or continue, the self-care that feels like care – and do it, even a little bit.
This week is such a great week to reflect on this, to get a little jumpstart on it, and to be prepared for the ice water bath that is the first week of January. Because as we all know, the entire first month of the year will disappear in what feels like a second, and it’ll only take that second to feel just as overwhelmed and burned out as we were two weeks ago when this holiday break arrived, and then everybody will be all, “WHEN IS SPRING BREAK OMG I HATE MY LIFE I JUST NEED TO GET THROUGH THE NEXT COUPLE MONTHS.”
I cannot even begin to tell you how much this mindset hurts my soul. What a way to go through life.
So what if, instead of accepting that as our fate, we invited in the right kind of self-care for us as individuals. It doesn’t need to be some huge production, as I literally just explained. But what if it could provide the kind of presence and kindness toward ourselves and others that we continually seek? What if we allowed for our self-care, accepted care from those who gift it to us, led with care internally and externally?
I don’t know about you, but I’m up for finding out.
A really lovely way to identify all this is part of the second week of Foundations of Self-Discovery, if you’re up for a little personal development goodness. You can also sign up for weekly invitations to self-care right here.