How many times and from how many different people have you heard this? Maybe you yourself have said it a time or two – I know I have. I’ve said it and I’ve meant it and I had good intentions on actually taking care of ME…
…and then life happened, or worse – I got scared of my own self-care. Not the act of taking care of myself, but the thought of planning it out because everything I read said I needed a plan. The problem was, I didn’t know how to plan out my self-care when 1. I could barely remember who I was other than someone’s wife and mother let alone things that made me happy, and 2. who was going to watch these kids while I was taking care of me? With a civil servant husband whose shift changes every six weeks, a mother whose free time is devoted to taking care of my aging grandmother, and a brother with a new baby, this idea of self-care was just about over before it started.
Knowing that it was so important to my mental health (because, frankly, life was driving me bat-shit crazy), I revisited the idea only to be disappointed again. I started writing down the things that I enjoyed – going to the gun range and the spa, getting my nails done, traveling out of town with my girlfriends, buying something for myself – I realized that 98% of it didn’t fit in my budget, and just like that I was back at square one.
Even though I had no plan. Even though my self-care ideas were out of my budget. Even though thinking about self-care was getting to be more exhausting than not thinking about it, I refused to give up hope that my perfect self-care remedy was out there somewhere.
I was trying not to feel frustrated, but I knew that there had to be more to self-care than just sleeping in on Sunday mornings, so I did a little research. I went to my favorite place (Pinterest) and looked up self-care – AGAIN – and came across a few self-care challenges and decided to do what I usually do with recipes and combine a few and see what came out in the wash. When I came across things like take a hot bath, journal, go on a mindful walk, make a craft, and declutter my light bulb went off, and here is what I came up with:
Don’t overthink it. Overthinking is my norm, and I was doing the same thing with my self-care. Self-care doesn’t have to be big or over-the-top, it doesn’t have to require childcare, and it doesn’t even have to take place outside of your house if you don’t want it to.
Make time for yourself. Don’t tell me you don’t have time for yourself. You do. It may be difficult to find, but it’s there. If you don’t have to be up until 8? Get up at 7 before the house is all a-bustle and have your morning coffee or tea in silence or listening to your favorite music. Is your morning commute especially long? Download the audio version of that book you’ve been trying to read and listen to it on the way to work. What about putting the kids to bed early and sipping that glass of wine in a hot bath?
Challenge yourself. Write down all the things that you enjoy, from quiet walks on the beach to 10-day cruises and everything in between. Create a thirty-day calendar and add to the list all the things you want to do starting with what you can do and afford right now then keep a running list of “big ticket items” to save money and vacation time to accomplish.
In the words of Nike: Just do it.
Are you a self-care guru, or do you have some of the same struggles that plagued me?