I loathe the term “self-care”. I’ve never been a huge fan of it, but now as a mother, I super dislike it. I support it. In theory. Taking breaks to rejuvenate and come back to life as a better person? Sign me up. A massage? Sign me up twice. A long hike in a forest? I’ll get my boots! A getaway with my husband? TELL ME MORE.
But here’s the thing with self-care. It doesn’t always look like a massage or pedicure or magical trek through the woods alone with only your (greatly neglected) journal and a Lara Bar to keep you company. And it almost never looks like a relaxing, kid-free trip somewhere else with my husband because it’s expensive and takes many elements of planning and, uh…it’s expensive. It could happen, but the reality of securing childcare, paying said childcare, going on the trip, taking time off of work, paying for lodging and food and travel? It’s pricey and time consuming.
The bottom line is this: Self-care can sometimes feel like a privilege instead of a necessity for mental and emotional health.
It doesn’t matter if you are in a committed relationship, a single person, a parent, a single parent, a grandparent, a circus performer, totally bankrupt, rolling in Kanye amounts of cash, worked to the bone, a teenager or college student, whatever. YOU NEED TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF. Instead of carving out an hour, a day, a weekend, or any other difficult amount of time, focus on small things. It doesn’t have to be time-consuming or spendy. Taking care of yourself can be simple, free, and take 30 seconds or less.
- Pee first. Whatever you have to do, it can wait 30 seconds while you pee. Screaming kid? I get it. Pee first. You have to start dinner right this minute? Pee first. You need to take a call? Send it to voicemail and call right back after you pee first. Because peeing is important to your well-being.
- Slip off your shoes and feel the grass. When was the last time you slipped off your shoes during your lunch break and stood in the grass? Never? Well, start now. Let your kids play at the park or in your yard and sip your coffee with your shoes off for a minute. Enjoy the way the grass feels between your toes and the soft earth beneath you.
- Breathe on purpose. Just take a deep breath, okay? Not because you “need” it, but because it feels freaking wonderful to expand those lungs and breathe in deep, then exhale fully. (10 points if you take a deep breath while you pee barefoot. -10 points if you do that in a public restroom.)
- Massage your hands. Before bed, when you need a minute to refocus, or just because you like soft hands. Grab your favorite oil or lotion, and be sure to gently pinch the soft spot between your thumb and pointer finger for extra relaxation.
- Add fruit to your water. Your toddler didn’t finish his apple slices? Toss a few into your water bottle or pitcher. Slice up a lime or orange while you’re at it and toss those in, too. If you’re feeling super fancy and have it on hand, add a mint leaf or two. Stimulating your taste buds can help keep your mind clear and connected to your body.
- Quote it. Find a short quote or poem. Read it. Twice. Return to it when you need to fuel your spirit.
- Eat a spoonful of peanut butter. Or sunbutter. Or almond butter. Or Nutella. You probably need the protein or chocolate fix. Go ahead and do that now.
If all else fails, drink that extra cup of coffee, or turn up your favorite music and dance. Or hide. Yep, sometimes straight up hiding can be self-care.
Oh, and if anyone has any ideas about how we can abolish the term “self-care” and replace it with something more fantastically fun, go for it. Let me know. We will sprinkle that phrase like glitter from a unicorn.
Take good care,