“You have to take care of yourself.”
“You should schedule a spa day!”
“Have you tried yoga?”
“Do you know what a gratitude journal is?”
You know self-care is important but if the thought of a hot yoga class or a daily mediation journal sends you running in the opposite direction, you might start to think that the whole self-care thing isn’t for you.
In all of the messages about relaxation, stress management, and healthy living an important message has largely been ignored: While self-care is about taking care of ourselves, that may mean different things to different people.
Some people may find the respite they need inside a spa. Someone else might find their reprieve inside a racquetball court. Still another may find rejuvenation at 2 a.m. inside a standing-room only rock concert in a small concert venue.
Self-care, when done right, nurtures our souls, feeds our spirits, and helps us tune into our passions and pleasures. It doesn’t always look and sound the way we’re told it does. If you’re struggling to fit self-care into your life, it might be because your version of self-care doesn’t fit the mold.
Try asking yourself these questions:
- What’s something that gets you excited?
- What’s something that when you do it, you lose track of time?
- When do you feel the most alive?
- Is there anything in your life that brings you pure, child-like glee?
- What do you wish you had more time for?
- What’s something you love so much that you’ve created a ritual around it?
- What are your guilty pleasures?
Answering these questions, you might find that you’re already doing a pretty good job of taking care of yourself. If you’re looking at these questions and drawing a blank, it’s likely that you haven’t made time for real self-care in a while.
Some might guess or suspect that a lack of time is the culprit. After all, we certainly hear that often enough: “I would get to that exercise class if I could but I just don’t have the time. I have to get my daughter to soccer.”
While a lack of time is certainly an obvious factor, the real reason more people aren’t committing to self-care practices more regularly is that it feels indulgent and selfish to do so when our self-care practices aren’t on the culturally approved list of ways to take better care of ourselves.
While you’ll never find me inside a yoga class, you will find me in a weekly boxing class at a mixed martial arts gym. I won’t ever write in a gratitude journal but I really enjoy writing articles, even though that looks like “work” to other people. While getting those 8 hours of sleep in sounds like a fine idea, I’d much prefer getting up early with a good cup of coffee and watching my favorite TV show on demand. I watch football, am an avid foodie, and can easily kill an hour listening to YouTube artists singing covers of my favorite songs.
It’s not easy saying I take care of myself by wearing my Patriots jersey and watching a three hour football game on a Sunday afternoon because people have a lot of opinions about football these days and even more opinions about people who sit and watch TV for a three hour sitting.
If we really want people to start taking better care of themselves, it’s important that we stop defining for them what that looks like and how to do it. Maybe if we let everyone decide for themselves what self-care is and isn’t, we’d find more people willing to do it.
Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory/Stokpic via stokpic.com