For the month of September I’m kicking off a series of blogs on different aspects of self-care. This week’s post is dedicated to my good pal Lori.
Lori is a great friend, wise beyond her years, I often forget I’m the older of the two of us. We bonded a lot in out time living together in Florida, and maybe even more since. When we talk the topic of self-care comes up frequently. Lori is great to bounce ideas off of and we encourage one another to find ways to to pause and practice some self-care when we need it most.
This week’s post is inspired by some of those converstatins, so it only makes sense to credit half of these ideas to lil’ mama.
How are you, actually?
A key part of practicing self-care is being mindful of how you are really feeling. When we feel stressed, especially when it is frequent stress about little things that we wouldn’t usually find overwhelming, it can be a sign to slow down and be intentional about pausing to take care of ourselves.
Self-care isn’t always a big thing, I think it is most effective in our everyday lives when we are mindful of how the little things we do can add up to impact how we are feeling. Once we recognized that everyday things, like how well we are sleeping, how much coffee we are drinking, and if we’re working out and getting endorphins going are crucial aspects of wellness along with other acts of self-care we can do a better job at caring for ourselves.
The little rituals and habits in our lives add up, they can have a huge impact on our mood and when we practice living well and listening to our bodies we can take care of ourselves in a gentle and understanding way.
As the summer has simmered down to a near close I’ve been reading a book called Heart Talk: Poetic Wisdom for a Better Life. I can’t recommend this book enough, and the author Cleo Wade starts the first chapter with a beautiful description of why self-care is important;
“Self-care is how we fuel our self-love so that we are able to share our love with everyone around us. Our hearts are warm when we are able to show up with generosity, patience, and compassion for the ones we life, but we must remember that it is impossible to truly be there for others without taking care of ourselves first. We take care of ourselves by asking what our needs are. We take care of ourselves by making healthy choices when it comes to our physical and emotional bodies. We take care of ourselves by lightening up and not being so damn hard on ourselves…It does not benefit anyone when we live our lives running on fumes. Love is an action, a thing in motion. Therefore, it requires fuel.”
Life can get busy and with all the things we have to accomplish at school, at work and in our social lives we can sometimes get frustrated that we can’t keep up with the go go go pace. The best way to stay energized and integrate self-care into a busier lifestyle is to make to-do lists that have the regular tasks you might except along with self-care stuff (such as running , having a bubble bath, painting, watching Netflix, eating cake etc) so we remember that is a priority too.
Another quote I love from Heart Talk about this idea is ;
“At times, life seems to be one never-ending to-do list, but we must learn to disrupt the flood of life’s demands in order to replenish our energy so that we can fully show up for all of our passions and responsibilities.”
Self-care is not always about treating yourself but learning to listen to what you need and allowing yourself to take breaks and take care of yourself a little bit everyday. Sometimes the most important part of self-care is learning to recognize when to give yourself a break.
I once had a professor say that self-care is building healthy coping habits for yourself when life isn’t stressful, so that when it gets to be stressful you already have those habits in place. These habits could be waking up early to drink tea before the morning rush to give yourself space to feel centred or booking off a night just to hangout and catch up on your favourite tv show. Writing “eat cake” or “take 15 minutes to draw” on your to-do list might sound silly, but from personal experience I know it can help you to feel more balanced.
Simple Self-Care & Accountability
The less exciting side of taking care of yourself is taking steps that will help you in the future rather than in the exact present moment. Like budgeting or eating healthy or going to bed when you’d rather go out.
When you do little things you don’t want to do because it’ll help you in the future, you’re practicicing self-care. When you take a break and let yourself just sit and breathe for 5 minutes before rushing about your day, that is also self-care because your future self will have had time to be present and hopefully be feeling less stress.
In the words of my girl Lori, “it is a mix of the two” [doing the things you don’t want to because it is good for you, and giving yourself a break].
As I said above, Lori is someone who I talk about self-care with a lot and it’s not only helpful to have someone to debate it with and think about it in different ways. It is so powerful to have someone who holds you accountable to practicing self-care too. Having people in your life who also believe in self-care and hold you accountable are so great.
It’s self-care, it’s up to you to actually do it. But having friends reminding you can be important too. We picked up this phrase living in Florida where if you’re hearing someone talk about a bad day or something they are struggling with you ask “what are you going to do to take care of yourself today?”. It’s so powerful, just to even be asked and reminded that I am in control – the ball is always in your court when it comes to self-care.
If I reach out to a friend and express some hard things I’m going through, I love the empowering reminder that I can go do something to fix how I’m feeling and feel better about my day.
The other day I texted Lori , I was having a really stressful morning and was telling her all the things going on, she asked what I would do to care for myself and I just said “I am practicing self-care today by drinking a green tea latte from Starbucks instead of coffee bc it doesn’t make anxiety worse” – it’s little things y’all. It’s listening and knowing when you can’t handle coffee, it’s knowing when you need a break, it’s knowing that you cannot show up for people if you don’t show up for yourself first.
September is a month of transitions, of going back to school, of building new routines, and I wanted to talk about self-care this month because now is the time for you to build in the habits of taking care of yourself. Transitions can be exciting but also stressful, so listen to yourself, give yourself credit, and remember that to stay in motion you need fuel.