I used think that self care had to be a carefully planned event. A spa day, a walk on the beach, some kind of exercise or yoga etc. These were the ideas and the perception I had of what true self care looked like. I was under the impression it had to be extravagant and that I needed to be left completely rejuvenated and "healed" afterwards.
If you are anything like me, by the time that you realize you need some self care, its either too late to plan for or you're just too tired or unmotivated to follow through with it. This always stressed me out. I would go through my week as the stress of everyday work, responsibilities and commitments and family life accumulated to the point that I would realize I had forgotten to take time out for myself to breathe, to relax, to reconnect. By the time I was ready to plan for self care, I was too tired or unmotivated or just plain busy again.
You see, the perception that we have of self care is sometimes someone's idea of it. I would see people on TV or hear about people going on about their self care routines, a salon day, a hike, a trip to the beach etc. I slowly realized I really had no interest in those things but felt like something was wrong with me. These were the voted on widely acceptable self care tools, and I had no interest in any of them. The lack of interest and following through on my part to plan a self care "event" would leave me more stressed or disappointed in myself.
I began to realize that self care needs to be individualized and effective. I am here to tell you that you can stop trying to live up to the standards of self care and do what works for you.
The only requirement for a successful self care routine is that it aids in relaxing and reconnecting you to yourself, or disconnecting you from your daily stressors in order to reboot and recharge, even if its for 3 minutes.
I learned that simple things can be a form of self care, like a shower outside of your normal shower routine, a nap, or baking a cake.
We can literally take time out anywhere, anytime to self care any which way. We can put the phone down and read one chapter out of a book to disconnect. We can turn the music off in the car and drive intentionally paying attention to the sights and smells and sounds. We can take 5 minutes longer in the bathroom to close our eyes and count 10 things we are grateful for that week.
My point is that self care can definitely be a planned event like a spa or a 3 hour hike, but it can also be like that woman in the picture I chose, breathing in the moment in the middle of a busy city.
Here are some ideas:
Read a book, or part of a book
Bake a cake, even premade cookies or brownies
Play with your pet for 5 minutes, be present with them
Organize a drawer in your home
Wash your car by hand ( be present)
Eat a treat
Stop and listen to your breathing for 3 minutes
Meditate: 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste