I am sick to death of self-care advice. I am sick of the word, all the advice on how to best practice it, and sick of the space it takes up in our worlds. I get so frustrated when consumerism zones in on wonderful ideals meant to help us live authentically beautiful lives in the name of popularity or selling something.
On its own, self-care was a good idea. A good notion meant to help us realize our own importance and the importance of taking time for ourselves in a world that often crushes us. However, as with all things that become popular or viral, a pretty simple notion of self-love has evolved into a movement with so many rules to follow it could be likened to a new diet fad. Do this, not that. Practice it like this, not like that.
Let’s get back to basics, shall we? Let’s call it what it is. Self-care is giving a sh*t about the space you occupy and others that share in your energy. It’s not a product, a diet, or a new self-help book that offers the secret to life. It’s me, and it’s you. It’s all about how I occupy space in this world and how I share that space with you. It’s about taking responsibility for who I am and how I act, and how those actions impact those around me.
So many of us don’t practice self-care because we feel too guilty to do it. It doesn’t feel right to soak in a bubble bath with a glass of wine while hubby runs after screaming kids after he also had a stressful day at work. It doesn’t feel good to put the kids to bed 15 minutes earlier so you can meditate. Spending a little extra on a luxurious item feels uncomfortable when you’re meant to be saving. Of course, when we listen to the array of confusing advice on self-care, it’s easy to become confused and distressed about it.
We are all creatures of energy. We have good days and bad days. Low energy days and high energy days. Happy days and sad days. Things start falling apart when we tip the scales to mostly bad days, mostly sad days, or mostly low-energy days. In my case, this happened because I was not taking time to recharge my energy in ways that fulfilled me. This led to me being in a bad mood, having a severely short temper, and constantly being tired. Translated to those around me: A mommy that’s always too tired to play a game or read a long story, a wife that snaps at every small thing, and a friend that brings down the entire mood of a girls’ day out.
We all feed off each other’s energy. Think about this: Recall a night out with hubby when you were both in a good and relaxed mood. How did the evening go? You can still clearly remember many elements of that night. Perhaps romantic gestures, laughing at shared jokes, or excitedly sharing your day. Now recall a night you were both stressed, tired, and frustrated. How did that evening go? Uncomfortable silences? Snapping or biting remarks? Bickering over silly things?
I believe I create the space I am in, and I am responsible for being aware of what I bring into the space I share with others. If I am in a good mood, I project that to others. If I am overly anxious and stressed, I project that. No one can be perfect in every moment. Except, of course, Mary Poppins, who is by definition “practically perfect in every way” 😊.
Knowing that I am no Mary Poppins, I accept that I am at least partly responsible for the world I create around me. Suppose I go home with a world of stress, thinking about that last email, stewing about that rude guy in the meeting. In that case, I immediately hand that over to my family when I walk in the door. I may not tell them what’s happening, but my demeanor, responses, and attitude are filled with it.
I choose to give a sh*t about the space I create and those around me. Therefore, I decided to fill my cup with healing and good energy. To me, this means taking time to be in quiet spaces. When I am most stressed, I need to retreat. To a calm room, a still space, completely alone. This is how I recharge. This is how I let go. It helps me when I do this in different forms, from just being to meditating, drawing, or doing a yoga flow.
It also helps me to incorporate moments of practice that I know refill my cup. These can be multiple small moments throughout the day. Like a 2-minute grounding exercise in the office, a quick stretch before bed, or a mindful moment caring for my skin.
These are all practices or routines that I know, for sure, fill my cup. I am calm, restored, fulfilled, and whole when my cup is filled. I project this energy to others or my home if I feel complete. I can read that long story, play snakes and ladders, listen attentively to my husband when he tells me about his day, and fully immerse myself in the sacred moment of being with a friend.
Therefore, I take the time to create a soul balance that is integral to my health and well-being and to those who have to put up with me. Those who live with me and necessarily share in my energy.
How we practice this self-care is up to us. Only we know what fills our cups. Don’t commit to grandiose retreats, hour-long daily practices, or expensive products. There is only a need to Want to be responsible for the space we take up and share with others. That, to me, is all self-care is. None of us are islands. We all come together as a unit. Whether friend and friend, husband and wife, mother and daughter, or customer and cashier. We are all connected. Taking care of ourselves helps us be better people, not only for ourselves but for others affected by our decisions, words, and actions.
Not everything has to be so complicated :-).