This Is Self-Care

Just like I seemed allergic to toxic positivity, something about the trappings around the term “self-care” made me cringe. I don’t know when the term emerged, but the thought is this: There are actions you can take to improve your physical and mental health. Most of the pictures associated with this term tended to involve a woman luxuriating in a bubble bath. That’s where they lost me. The idea that a tub of bubbles would somehow fix my level of overwhelm was absurd. I would shrug, “I’m too busy for that!”

Oh, just book a massage and my problems will float away? A pedicure and poof!? There go my problems! I’m better now because I have red toenails. 

I figured, if spa treats = self-care, I should just opt out. Those things aren’t a priority for me. 

More Than A Manicure

I now know, rejecting the premise based on some pictures was a horrible plan. I’ve learned the hard ways that self-care is more than a manicure. It’s a way to guard my physical and emotional wellbeing.

It was a slow start, for sure. I was so confused about what I needed to support my own self – that I didn’t know how to spend my time when I was alone for 24 hours.

It took me months to figure out what my version of self-care is. And then it took me a bit longer to say it out loud, create boundaries and claim it. 

My Self-Care List

Everyone needs something different, but here’s what my version of self-care is: 

  1. Not answering my phone: I currently have 22,849 unread emails, 589 unread text messages, and 18 voicemails. I was losing hours of my life trying to keep up with alerts until I waved the white flag. I’m really, really sorry if you’ve texted me and I haven’t responded. My teenager is HORRIFIED, but there are entire chunks of the day I leave my phone in a different room and (try to) focus on what is front of me. I felt guilty for a long time about this. Not anymore. 
  2. A really hard workout: I call these workouts “mind-erasers”. There are days when I commit to something really hard, the kind of workout that leaves you questioning your limits. When I’m done, there’s some exhaustion and pride in tackling something so hard. 
  3. My morning routine: I wrote about it here. I’m writing this at 5:17am. Waking up this early means going to bed before my kids most nights, but claiming this time is an incredible act of self-care. 
  4. An entire Saturday on the couch: Resting is not always easy for me. I have to force myself to sit still some days. But these shows and my couch are my true comfort. 
  5. Connection with people who “get” me: I sat on the phone with one of my best friends for two hours recently. Yes, that takes way more time than a bubble bath but the belly laughs we had were way better for me. 

I’d love to hear what self-care looks like for you. I’m new at making this a priority and I learn so much from you. What are the things you do to protect your physical and mental health?

Talk soon,