I used to think ‘self-care‘ was a fancy way of saying ‘selfish‘. I’m a mom and the primary go-to person/CEO of my household, and so helping everyone else with their needs and tasks is simply part of what I do on a daily basis. Self-care to me meant doing fancy things like getting my nails done, or spending money on expensive fitness classes. It was simply something that I pushed aside, and dismissed as something for real-housewife-types and not me.
Boy was I ever wrong.
I have seen a lot of other bloggers talking about self-care. But most things that I read were from moms of small children who basically needed some personal time away from them. When you are taking care of little kids at home, self-care often means getting rest and time to pursue the activities you once enjoyed but no longer have time to get to. Nothing really resonated with me – an almost (not-quite) empty-nest mom of teens who are busy with their own activities and social life.
It took well over a year for me to realize that I was not taking care of myself in a way that allowed me to be the best for my family. I was going through the motions, but somehow started to feel a little lost. Throw in a few difficult personal times, and I slowly started to realize that I had to do something in order to get back to being a better self.
So I am well into my first season of dedicated self-care, and I am noticing how much of a difference it has made to my overall spirit and outlook on life. If you are like me – someone that has aged into your second act of life and less inclined to use shopping for material things as your go-tos, self care can look a little different. It’s not all about new shoes or massages, but rather, small everyday tasks that can help you fill your soul.
Delete or purge old stuff – When I start to feel clutter in my Inbox or in my home it gets on my nerves. My younger self would get pissed off at my partner for walking by the little messes everyday, and then harbour resentment about it. Now I have realized that no one usually knows what is bothering me and why, and I so I simply make a plan to clean it up. I struggle with things like receipts and taxes, but when it is finished, I am always so relieved. I consider this self-care because doing a little bit at a time saves me a lot of time brooding about it later.
Connections with friends – I blogged about this earlier but making time to have a laugh and a drink with an old friend or current besties that you don’t see, is super important for self-care. A friend can make you forget what you are obsessing over, or make you laugh at loud about it. If you are at a point in life where you don’t have as many people to connect with, consider joining a local Facebook group or meet up. I belong to a few and have seen many friendships blossom as people make online and in-person connections.
Try new things – A new coffee shop, grocery store or post office is like the absolute simplest way to step outside your comfort zone and try something new. Bigger steps would be a different type of fitness class, or a new meet up group. I’m a little slow on some of these things, but I have been pushing myself to try new things in my everyday life. Walking a new path instead of driving somewhere, or taking a different route instead of the same one has been a start. I’ve started reading some new authors that I would have never tried before – all in the vein of self-care and learning new things about myself.
Finish a project – Unfinished projects happen. Usually we have the best of intentions when we start things, but like anything, real life can take over, and projects and intentions get pushed aside. Take a dedicated afternoon and finish that project you once started – whether it is an art project, journal or something physical, try to make time to finish something that you began and abandoned. I had saved little pieces of Playbills and papers from our trip to NYC, and spent an afternoon collaging it with my daughter. I could finally throw away all of the stuff we didn’t use – and while it’s not a masterpiece, it felt good to finish it.
Move on from things – Eliminate toxic relationships by simply not engaging. Unfollow or unfriend things that make you feel less-than. Say ‘no‘ when you just don’t feel like volunteering, and if you don’t want to go, know that you probably don’t have to. The world will continue to happen around you, and your identity is never wrapped up in that one moment. If you are worried about letting people down, know that your true friends and supporters will understand.
Remember that your efforts will pay off – All of your efforts to better yourself, or working hard, will eventually pay off in some way shape or form. Don’t be discouraged when you are looking at the short game – remember the long game ahead. Even if what you are working on doesn’t work out, eventually it will lead you to something better. I’ve been blogging for years, and constantly meet new people who have blogs that are much busier than mine. But I have learned not to compare myself – so many years doing this have taught me that each situation is unique and my journey is going to be different. I guess this is my way of reminding you to be kind to yourself. Treat yourself like you would treat a good friend – with the utmost kindness.
Take a social media sabbatical – For most of the holiday season I took a social media break. Now I am back but with a new set of eyes. I try, when I don’t forget, to start each day with gratitude. I do less scrolling, less comparing, and more time focused inward. Not to say that I am not connected on a group chat with friends, or answering DM’s from others, but I am doing less ‘observing‘ and more ‘doing‘.
Once you have tried some of these things, of course, a visit to the hairdresser, a massage or Reiki session or a pedicure are also great ways to practice self-care. But self-care is not just about primping or doing things that cost money – being kind to yourself and doing new things can help you to feel a sense of accomplishment. And that can be just as rewarding.