“I have come to believe that caring for myself is not self-indulgent. Caring for myself is an act of survival.” Audre Lorde
In the past week, I have experienced self care in two very different ways, and it made me realise that what you need to do in order to look after yourself really depends on what else is going on in your life.
Last weekend I attended a full day workshop devoted to self care and expression. This was the first time I have invested in something like this, and it did not disappoint. It was a wonderful day filled with like minded women experiencing beautiful organic food, yoga, meditation, journalling, not to mention some some hilarious and liberating free form dancing. I even enjoyed getting the pencils out and making some patterns, which is saying something for a self avowed colouring in unenthusiast like me! I walked away from the day feeling I had truly filled up my cup, which was just as well because by the next day…
Two out of three kids were home sick from school and I was struck down by a nasty virus
Suddenly, self care turned from an indulgence into survival, and the reality looked a whole lot less pretty than a restorative yoga pose and a neatly coloured in mandala. It made me realise a few home truths about self care, that I thought I would share with you.
- Self care does not have to be Instagram worthy. If I had taken a selfie of what I looked like last week, holed up in bed with a blocked head and hacking cough: well, let’s just say that no amount of exotically named filters would have made me look good, but then neither did I have to. Rest was what I needed, and rest was what I gave myself (as much as was humanly possible when I had sick kids as well).
- Recognising what was essential and what could be put off, helped take the stress off me. Were you devastated that I didn’t post a blog post last week? No? Good, I didn’t think so, yet we can put so much pressure on ourselves when we work for ourselves that if we ‘disappear’ people will be disappointed. My clients understood that I needed to reschedule, and making a conscious decision not to worry about my blog, took a load off my mind, and put my focus where it needed to be: with my unwell family.
- Self care is sometimes as simple as lying on the couch with your daughter and watching Anne of Green Gables on DVD. Bliss.
- Self care can be a beautiful teapot filled with an exotic herbal infusion or it can be a mug with an English Breakfast teabag in it, either works well for me.
- A beautifully cooked nutritious meal can be a form of self care, but for me if I have to cook it, then it is a self chore in my book. When I am sick, my form of self care comes in the form of toasted cheese sandwiches (with added gluten, dairy, and comfort a plenty).
- An epsom salt bath with candles and mood music is touted by most as next level self care, however in my experience this is often next level nightmare. If my daughters get a whiff of me near a bathtub, they immediately want to join me, making bath time a game of slippery sardines. So yes, sometimes a hot solo shower suffices as self care in my book.
- Self care can often mean surrender. Accepting things as they are in the here and now, and getting through the day as best as you possiblly can. If that means cooking scrambled eggs for dinner, and not caring about the 30 loads of laundry randomly piled around your bedroom* then so be it!
So there you have it, self care two ways, or as I like to think of it: the ideal vs reality. While we should all aim to give ourselves a special day full of self love and expression every now and then, sometimes a DVD, a toastie, and a nana nap are all I need to look after myself! #nohastagorfilterrequired
*Well I do care actually, but no one else in my house seems to get the elusive concept of laundry. In fact for Mother’s day this year I received a Super Hero poster from my 6 year old daughter. My superhero power? Washing Power! Yes my darling daughter actually wrote “My mum is a superhero because she cleans the washing really fast”, and drew a picture of me with a cape and ‘Washing Power’ on my chest. I am strongly thinking of swapping this superhero cape for one of invisibility instead!
What are your thoughts on self care? Do you regularly take time out for yourself, or is this one of those things you mean to get around to, but simply never do? I’d love to hear from you below.