Self care is the big thing these days. It’s replaced eating kale and drinking smoothies as to what clues everyone else into the fact that you’re into “wellness”. Everyone is doing it! Or everyone means to do it. Everyone is at least thinking about doing it.
Yeah, you know you should meditate, exercise and write in your journal. And healthier eating is definitely something you want to do. And someday you’ll have time for epsom salt baths and dry brushing too. It’s been a zillion years since you connected with nature and last time nature connected with you it left a welt the size of a quarter and you had to take benadryl for 3 days. Self care is totally on your priority list!
But no matter how many times you think, “I’m totally going to start doing that” (Tomorrow. Ah, Monday! Um, maybe next month?), another big chunk of time passes without you having made any time for self care practices.
What gives? Why is self care something we preach often but so hard to do in reality?
Two reasons come to mind for me.
- Because it’s not really a priority for us but we think it should be a priority because according to the media and all the women who actually go to the yoga classes you wish you could drag yourself to, it’s basically what’s going to keep us sane and healthy and not making time for self care is tantamount to to giving the middle finger to your health.Along the same lines: YOU aren’t a priority in your life. Your job, your family, your volunteer work or school obligations, your DVR queue, heck, even social media comes first. There’s no room for self care because you are not high enough up on your priority list. The only way you’re going to start making room for it is if you move something else further down the list.The only way to have self care find a way into your life is by changing your priorities.How to change this. Make a list of how you spend your time. Account for every hour or half hour of every day for a week. Laundry, dishes, preparing meals, time in the car, staring out the window etc. put everything down on paper. When you see where all your time goes, it might make it easier to find something you can stop doing (or get help doing!) or something you can do less of and that is where you can make room for self care. But first you have to acknowledge that you deserve a place at the top of your priorities. What can you stop doing? What can you do less of? Is there anything that is taking up a big chunk of time that you are surprised by? Can you change that? Are you willing to change that? Compiling a list like this and analyzing what can be changed can help you find a spare 30 min to an hour to add in some form of self care. Start there and when you see the benefits of that small bit of time, you may be motivated to look for more.
- You’re going through a period of isolation or disconnection. As beneficial as self care stuff is to our lives, most of the stuff we do for self care is a solo practice that gets us deeper into our heads and sometimes that’s the opposite of what we need!Maybe you work a lot of hours in a private office, spend a lot of time in your car, work from home, spend all day caring for others, or have very limited social time. All of these things can start to make you feel isolated and doing self care practices that bring the focus on “you” can make you feel even more so. The last thing you want to do when you spend a lot of time alone is sit quietly in your own head space! That’s sometimes why we turn to food, drink or our electronic devices more than we want to – we’re seeking the comfort and the “feeding” that human relationships and interactions can give us and we are trying to substitute it for other things. We just can’t feed disconnection with those things and they will keep getting in the way of a self-care practice until we get some true self care by interacting with others!In this case, the only way to make yourself want to do solo practice self care stuff is by starting with one of the most basic self care needs – and that is social interaction!How to change This. Go have some fun and conversation with other humans! What is your soul hungry for? How connected to others to you feel? Do you have several people in your life that you connect with regularly? Go out and connect with them. Schedule time with your girlfriends. Have brunch with your siblings. Find an event that interests you in your area on meetup.com and meet some new people. Maybe you want to connect in a way that gives back to others? What about volunteering at a soup kitchen or senior center, or becoming a Big Sister/ Big Brother? You could also become a mentor for someone in your field. Friends don’t live nearby? Try video chat.
When you connect to others deeply and regularly, you’ll find meditating, journal writing or exercising is something you’ll start to look forward to (and you’ll actually be able to do it).
I’ve gone through both of these myself – as a solopreneur the isolation one comes up regularly! I’ve found it really hard to stick to a meditation practice lately (even my doctor suggested I use an app and set a timer, but I just couldn’t get myself to do it). I know the benefits of meditation and I’ve had success doing it regularly during different periods in my life, but lately, asking me to sit down and meditate felt worse than going to the dentist! I finally realized it’s because I’m already alone in my own head too much! How and why would I want to spend even more time there? Haha! I’ve been making an effort to have more time with other people during the week, whether it be a networking event or a walk or lunch with a friend and it really helps me feel better (and more interested in doing other things that are good for me).
What is your experience with self care? Do you find it challenging to stick to a routine? Are you making yourself a priority and is self care truly a priority for you or just something you “think” should be a priority? Have you been spending too much time alone lately? Is isolation or disconnection something you have been feeling? What is something you can do this week to feel more connected to others?