How A Little Self-Care Can Go a Long Way
Why is it so hard to take time for yourself?
My first feeling is guilt.
Taking time for myself means someone else needs to be “on the con,” and I feel guilty asking for them to sacrifice their time and energy.
My second fear is time.
Is there enough time in my schedule for “me” moments?
Then, I worry - what will I do with my time? What activity will provide the most nourishment for the shortest amount of time and the smallest of amount of money?
And when I finally get some time, I still end up thinking of my children and my partner. How do I escape?
Wait, what? Escape? Is that what I really want?
I crave a space and time where I am the focus of my love and light. Just me! NO ONE ELSE. Peace. Quiet. Sacred alone time.
Create a new narrative
Caregivers are biologically and culturally wired to put others first. This is our superpower. We will heal the world (if we don’t burnout beforehand). Taking time for yourself is not just about self-care, it is the key to healthy relationships, happy family, and a vibrant community.
Activate this new narrative:
Self-Care is Good for My Marriage, Family, and the World.
This is not selfish work, this is sacred work. When you nourish yourself, and allow your reserves to fill back up, you can be a better caretaker, lover, and activist. Everyone burns out if they don’t balance their lives.
Got it? Ok, good - take care of you so you can be your best self.
AND, let us teach our children the value of self-love. As parents, probably don’t require your kids to love themselves, you do that work. We love them and love them and love them. But, are we helping them love themselves? One radical way we can do this is to model what it looks like. So, take your “me” time! It’s good for everyone, today and in the future. Self-care is a radical act. Do it and change the world, one act of self-love at a time.
Bigger is not always better
Alright, so you get it: self-love is good for everyone. But how to get it? I used to think self-care happened on a special day where I scheduled hours away from my family. I felt I needed hours to recoup and reconnect with my voice and my power. The problem is - that hardly EVER happened. It was such an adjustment on everyone’s part that I seldom asked for the time. And, it would usually mean taking time away from precious weekend hours spent with my whole family. My grand expectations were difficult to meet. And the worst part - I rarely felt the kind of rejuvenation I was seeking. Call it buyer's remorse, but I never felt like the time off was worth the amount of strength and joy I got in return. I actually made me feel worse, especially if I spent a bunch of money on a spa day.
Little Things Add Up to Deep Joy
Showering was the first small act of self-love that I consistently fit into my life (if you are a mama, you know how hard it is to find time to shower when you have small children in the house). I even asked my husband to help me get this habit going. We even discussed language he could use such as, “would you like to…” or “what can I do so you can...?” Seriously, I needed a lot of help to get this habit started. Now I have added on a 15-30 minute yoga practice after the shower. This is life-changing.
Take it to the next level trace the words “love” and “kindness” and “strong” on the surface of your skin. These healing and loving words will work magic through your whole body.
more Simple Acts of Self-Love:
Use the fancy stuff:
Today is special and you are special! So bring out the fancy shower gel, or use that lovely stationary, or eat on the fine china. Treat yourself.
Take a walk in nature:
Connect with the elements, breathe in the fresh air, and observe the plants and animals that we share this planet with.
My greatest gift in the pursuit of self-care has been carving out time in the morning. I love sleeping in...as long as possible. But, I learned that the morning is precious. It is an opportunity to touch base with myself before the chaos of the day begins. And, I have trained myself to wake before the children.
How to Wake Up Early?
Go to bed earlier
Say a few affirmations before sleep (say each three time):
“I love waking up early”
“Waking up early is easy for me”
“I wake up to my alarm and eagerly start the day”
”I wake up feel refreshed and enthusiastic”
Have a plan.
What is the first think you will do when you wake up? I have a 10 step process that begins with recording my dreams and taking a shower.
Turn off the snooze button. When the alarm goes off - it’s final!
Put your alarm/phone across the room so you have to get out of bed to turn it off.
How to be Mindful?
Start with meditation. Two minutes can be enough to get your practice started, then build yourself up to 10-20 minutes a day. It’s a game changer.
One of my favorite morning practices are “Morning Pages.” Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, created this idea. She writes, “Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind… Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand.” I incorporate my daily Tarot readings into my Morning Pages. It is a writing meditation, allowing thoughts to come to the forefront of the mind, and then letting them pass. It is a braindump, a clearing of mental clutter. In this way I make space for peace and heart-centered actions. This is a practice in listening to intuition and connecting with my wisest self.
Most mornings it is still hard to rise from my cozy bed, but I do it. This morning time is divine.
More Mindful Morning Practices:
Yoga / Stretching
Divination: Tarot Cards / Oracle Cards / I-Ching
Readings on Spiritual / Personal Development
Nature Journal (document the weather, animal sightings, garden activity)
Daily Finance Check-In
Gratitude / Appreciation Journal
Find What Works for You
The challenge is finding the activities that fill you up. Everyone is going to be different. I have a friend who needs to be immersed in water; she needs a hot tub or an ocean. An introverted friend of mine is replenished by intimate one-on-one dates with friends. Another friend needs to go out dancing.
Find what brings you joy and make the time, and do it regularly. As it turns into a habit, your family will begin to expect it. It will become strange when you don’t do it. For me, I need regular hangouts with my friends. I need daily journaling. I need to make art. And, actually some of these things I can do with my family. I can sew while the kids are playing, and the feeling I have upon the completion of a project is self-love! Painting with my kids is soul-nourishing. Baking warms my heart. Therefore, I made a list of things that bring ME joy, like baking, painting, and walks, and I fold them into our weekly rhythm. Experiment with different activities. Share your findings! Spread the word on self-love. What works for you?
I’m not saying it’s easy. I am saying it is worth it. YOU are worth it.
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