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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?