A Self-Care Post for January, in February
The work is to find that summer every day, many times a day.
When I saw Beth Kanter's call for blogposts for a blog carnival about self-care, I made a note to participate. I would meditate on this! I would think upon all the ways we practice or need to practice self-care. I would write a post for this blog and for hers.
January slipped out the door, and February is looking at me with those same escapee's eyes. In that time since her call for posts, I'd briefly considered the idea of self-care, then went back to working frantically and attending to family duties and fretting about everything I hadn't done. Including this post.
It's only now, in the midst of a vacation, the first I've taken by myself with friends and without kids-- that is, the first in about a decade-- that I'm writing this post.
I don't think it's coincidence that I'm picking up the topic now. Maybe in this moment that I'm away from the midst of work, deadlines, and family responsibilities, I can better articulate what this term means for me.
*What Is Self-Care?* Whatever it is that helps my body and mind re-center, instead of drifting toward anxiety, is self-care for me.
*Let's Move!* I have learned that quite often for me, that involves physical movement. Whether it's walking or stretching during a conference call, deep breathing, or simply getting up out of my chair to change my physical point of view, movement can help me reset and find a place of equanimity again.
*Eat Well. Drink Water.* Simple things like eating well and drinking enough water are also part of my self-care needs. It's easy and true to label these as just basic to human survival. But I also identify noticing my food and water intake as part of the work of self-care because they're often the first to go when I'm not centered, when I'm knocked off into anxiety by one thing or another.
*Creative Self-Expression.* So much of my life is devoted to developing or growing things outside myself-- my kids, my work. But self-care means paying attention to the ways I long to develop and grow in my soul, too. So it's important to me to take time daily, even just 10 minutes, to journal or produce other writing that I share. This helps me remember that I have a unique point of view and a unique way to bring love into the world, even amidst all the often-isolating grind of daily life.
*Re-Center Often.* I have learned that it's ok to need to do this often. There's no simple one-time fix. Self-care is about noticing the many times throughout the day we might start to be caught up by interactions with the world-- and then doing something to release ourselves from being caught.
*Misusing Self-Care?* The term 'self-care' doesn't bother me as it seems to bother some. To me, it simply means consciously remembering to care for yourself in a way that helps you be in the world. I understand that there are some ways that the idea of self-care could be misused. I'm going to have to reject that. Worrying about whether I'm perceived as misusing self-care is pretty much the last worry I need. I practice self-care too little as is!
*Remembering Self-Care.* This might be the hardest part-- remembering to implement self-care strategies in the throes of daily anxiety and the work of life. And then, after remembering self-care, actually practicing it. I think that short of having a self-care coach standing behind me everyday telling me to stop for thirty seconds and breathe or stretch, we all have to be our own best self-care coaches. I think there may even be a certain satisfaction in doing this well for ourselves, as there would be if we were helping a friend practice self-care.