Self care has two sides in my opinion. Easy, laid back, not a hard decision is one side. My easy self care is my mani pedis. I go twice a month (sometimes an extra mani in there) and have no problem scheduling that into my life or paying for them. I feel clean, put together, and know that it is important to me to feel those things. The other side is hard, the ughhh I can’t decide what to doooo part of self care. These for me are turning down fun invitations from friends when I really know I need quiet time and a glass of wine or putting myself through a yoga class because facing stillness is hard but good for me. My hard and easy self care is probably different than yours (and it fluctuates for me too!) but you probably have both in your life too or you are beginning to realize that.
(This mani is a few days – here is the only polish I use- it lasts for almost 2 weeks, no chips, and its not gel. https://cnd.com)
With a balance of both I can more fully take care of myself. Both are equally important because at the end of the day its you we are talking about here. Me is what I tell myself. What do I need at this very moment and with that choice am I sticking to my values as a human being or am I just being lazy or avoiding confrontation with something?
(My #1 friend who just gets it. always.)
Do my self care practices help me live out my values? If the self care choice doesn’t fit into a value then I ask what I really need to be doing and what I may need from another human like a phone call or a hug. Most often though I have a pretty good pulse of what my needs are and I feel confident expressing them.
Today I did a hard self care practice but holy smokes is it going to make me a better student in class today, a more calm and confident leader for my Y teens tonight, and a friend who can listen and contribute to my grad school friends’ lives. If I didn’t go to yoga I can totally see how my day would have gone. Since the day started with high anxiety and crying (the gardeners outside my 3 windows were annoying me because I was trying to study, we had a guest in the kitchen, and all the noises blew up in my brain to a breakdown) and if I didn’t find some place to stop it I would most likely have continued to spiral and would have found more things to cry about later on in the day (that really should not elicit a crying response like bad traffic or me feeling like I am not studying well enough). That’s just part of how my anxiety manifests itself in a visible way on my body. SO I did the big girl thing and made the decision to get on my yoga pants, drive to the Y, and do the damn thing. Some tears came out at the beginning of practice but I slowly started to realize I wasn’t focused on my anxiety anymore. My breath was regulating with the poses, and my mental space had organized itself. As I was lying there in shavasana, I was so proud that I had made that decision to care for myself.
(some of my grad friends- school would legit be horrible without them)
Some of my most recent self care practices have been walking in the morning with my dog and stopping to feel the breeze on my skin. I have been making a point to pick something ahead of time to cook for the long lecture days. Cooking ahead is a hard practice for me because sometimes I feel like I have to focus on more urgent tasks but making the decision and having a really yummy meal to look forward to after you have already been at school for 8 hours is an act of self care. I’ve been as upfront with my friends as I can in letting them know that I am exhausted and that in this season of life, it is hard for me to find time to drive far to see them but that phone calls are always great. Most of them have been incredibly respectful and that was an act of self care. I have purchased a few new “feel good” items like a new pair of jeans that fit my body like glove from Madewell even though they are pricey. Me feeling confident in my clothes is an act of self care and makes me feel beautiful even on days where I feel less than. Eating ice cream at 12 in the afternoon is an act of self care because it felt right those few days last week. Choosing movement I LOVE (zumba/walking) makes me love my body, not hate it.
I hope you get some self care in this week- either hard or easy. Caring for yourself is so important before caring for others.