Nearly everyone has a New Year's resolution, but resolutions tend to be more like punishment than anything else. It's little wonder that they're usually abandoned by February. Maybe, instead of resolutions, we should think about the concept of self-care.
Self-care has been on my mind a lot these past few months, stemming from a bunch of unrelated occurrences. For one, my yoga teacher and I had lunch, and one of our topics of discussion was the importance of self-care, no matter your age, gender, or stage of life. I also started reading about the Danish concept of hygge (pronounced "HOO-gah"), or simple, minimal coziness. Let's not forget the massive dietary upheaval we've gone through and all the organizational nut-jobbery that's entailed. And then I went on a whirlwind two-day business trip for an event that left me exhausted, crabby, and about as mentally drained as a person can get. I was off-kilter for the entire rest of the week. That trip hammered home the importance of alone time and quality rest, critical components of my self-care.
But for something so crucial to a person's health and success, self-care tends to fall at the bottom of the list. In my opinion, it's mostly lack of knowledge that's causing the problem. So I thought I'd try to bust some self-care myths in hopes that it will inspire you all to take better care of your own selves in order to better care for your people and the world.
love and peace,
myth #1 // self-care is selfish. An awful lot of people (mamas, young and old, I'm looking at you!) don't want to spend any time or money on themselves, preferring instead to sacrifice all for their families. And while I realize I have no personal experience or understanding of the complexities of motherhood, the fatal flaw in that logic is too glaring to ignore. If you're constantly drained, you can't take care of others; at least, not well. Running away to Bali with your yoga teacher is selfish. Going to yoga class once a week is self-care.
myth #2 // self-care is the same for everyone. My mother is an extrovert with an insane amount of energy (two traits I absolutely did not inherit, by the way), and she goes running four miles, three days a week. In my book, that's not self-care, that's self-imposed hell. But it works for her. She thinks yoga is too slow - it makes her twitchy. Our bodies and minds are very, very different. It only makes sense that the way we take care of ourselves differs.
myth #3 // self-care is the same for you. Just as what your body and mind need differ from your spouse's, child's, or colleague's, what you need fluctuates. One day self-care might look like skipping yoga and having a glass of wine and some chocolate, while on other days it might look like grilled vegetables and an extra lap or two around the neighborhood. It's not a strict regimen; it's an ever-evolving set of needs. Listen to what you need right now.
myth #4 // self-care must be done by self alone. I'm a pretty independent person and want to do it all myself, but there are some things (say, anything tech-related) that are just above my pay grade. So I get help when needed. Same goes for self-care. If your self-care looks like better food choices or some additional exercise and you're not sure what's best for your body? Find a professional. You're more likely to actually help yourself instead of harming yourself.
myth #5 // self-care is expensive. Self-care is often associated with fancy gyms, organic produce, and routine spa days. But while that can be self-care, it doesn't have to be. An apple costs, what, the same as a candy bar? Buy (and eat!) the apple. If you feel you need a little exercise, try walking or jogging around your neighborhood for a few weeks. Tired and sore? A glass of wine and a nap work wonders.
In short, self-care can be summed up as listening to what your body needs at any given moment and doing your best to meet those needs. If you stop to listen, you'll realize our bodies and minds usually tell us exactly what we need, but we often ignore those signals until they're screaming too loudly to be pushed under the rug any longer. And by that point, you're probably in meltdown mode. I speak from experience here.
There will also be times when you might know what you need and you just can't have it, but a lot of the time you'll find you can. The dishes can wait until later. Your kids will be okay without you for an hour. One (okay, three) pieces of Halloween candy won't kill you. Neither will a glass (okay, three) of wine. On occasion.
Most of us are pretty nice to other people. So let's try extending that kindness to ourselves, yeah? And instead of a strict resolution you've abandoned by Valentine's Day, you'll have a new way of life to carry through 2017 and beyond.