In the wellness culture today, there is a lot of emphasis around self-care. And rightly so!
We are chronically under cared for both by ourselves and by our culture, community, and partners. I would like to assert however, that being under-cared-for is largely due to us not actually knowing what it is we need.
Wellness culture tells us to be thin, fit, well-slept, manicured, pedicured, waxed, lasered, satiated by protein shakes and water. We also need to take 1000 supplements, wake up at 5:30, sleep as long as you need, walk 10,000 steps per day, run 5 miles, lift 300 pounds, love your body, rest, take multiple bubble baths daily, ecstatic dance, meditate, make healthy whole-food meals three times per day, chew 40 times each bite, be mindful, be present at all times, process your trauma, Be happy, live laugh love….
Oof! That’s quite a list…but are these things self-care for you, or just more pressure to live up to society’s unattainable standards? It’s important to know the difference!
So, what are the right things for you?
Well…only you can know that…
And I believe you do!
When working with clients, I support them having moments of quiet and tapping into ways in which they are feeling unsupported and under-resourced (and of course the ways they ARE supported and resourced).
Asking the question like, “if my body and mind were cared for, what would that care look like”?
Sometimes answers pop into our heads very quickly. Sometimes this process can take hours, days, and even weeks. That’s OK! Sometimes finding answers means sitting in silence with a question. Sometimes it means looking at a list of things that have helped other people feel well resourced. It can also look like trial and error.
All of these ways of finding how to best live in your body are the right ways.
I’m going to offer some of the ways my clients have found their best self care processes here.
Meditation – sit with what feels like true self-care
You’re going to read through the paragraph below, then sit quietly and consider these questions – or just one of these questions.
Where are you feeling like you could use more support?
Where are you feeling your self-care is lacking?
Is it solitude?
Is it something else altogether?
It can be all of these and that’s OK, which one sticks out for you the most?
Take a moment to sit with that feeling of lack, that feeling of missing something. Be curious, explore how your body feels in that longing. Can you imagine an action or a gift or a feeling or person that could ease that feeling of lack?
Is there a way, today, that you could bring more of whatever it would be that fills you just a little bit. Is it a person? How could that person be more involved in your life? Do you need a phone call, to hang a photograph, to just ask for more closeness? Is it an action – what steps can you take to bring yourself closer to being able to do that action?
How does the idea of filling that empty space feel in your body?
Breathe into that – notice your breath, notice your tension, be present.
Here are some simple self-care tools. If it sounds good, sit with that feeling for a moment. Will it still feel good after you’ve done it? For example, taking daily bubble baths sounds lovely and relaxing, while in actuality I do not find this relaxing or healing.
I end up feeling rushed, with itchy dry skin. Not exactly what I was looking for. So while for some people bubble baths and chocolate are what’s needed to refill and refuel, those might not be the ingredients you need. There is no right or wrong.
Find something that you already do every day, and make it an intentional ritual. This can be making yourself a fancy beverage every morning, adding a minute or two of intentional ritual to your face-washing regimen every morning or evening.
Put a bottle of essential oil that you love near your desk, and set a timer for every hour that you are at your desk. When the timer goes off, put a drop of essential oil in your palm, rub your hands together and take a deep breath, then feel your breath go into your lungs all the way down to your feet, breathe in gratitude.
Would you feel better if you moved your body more? If so, how can you add some movement into your day? Maybe this looks like a 5 mile run, maybe this looks like restorative yoga, maybe this actually looks like being present in your body and laying perfectly still while noticing your breath.
I believe, as you become more in tune with your body, the right way to move will come naturally. You don’t need to force anything.
Is your body and brain in need of building blocks? Remove all judgment from your cravings, and sit with those feelings around food. This is easier said than done, it may take some time to release yourself from the negative feelings around food.
Food is necessary. Nourishment is necessary. And it should be pleasurable. Is there a food that you can eat today, that you enjoy and will not make you feel guilty after eating? Do that, eat that.
Are you getting enough pleasure? What brings you pleasure? Did you know you deserve pleasure every single day. Take a moment to feel into what brings you pleasure. Food, touch, furry friends, nature?
What steps could you take at this very moment to lean into pleasure? Find gratitude in your ability to feel pleasure.
Trial and Error – what feels like self-care, what doesn’t?
Running or walking?
Time in nature, time in meditation?
Yoga or strength training?
Chocolate, or potato chips?
A long hug, or solitude?
Intermittent fasting, or three solid meals per day?
Cutting back on coffee, or getting more sleep?
You get to decide what your next best step is. Do one thing.
Because you have done one thing does not mean you can’t do more things.
Just because you’ve done one thing doesn’t mean it’s the right thing.
Try the next thing, whether you’re adding it on or replacing the last thing. With each step that you take, find quiet time to reflect and learn. Don’t hesitate to toss out what isn’t working, and if you have energy you can always do more.
If you ever find you would like some support around this process, never hesitate to reach out. I’m always here.