Happy New Year, like a month after the fact. I am really excited for 2015 because 2014 was just totally an awful year for me emotionally and spiritually.
So, I for one really needed the fresh start, and also, I turned 30 this month, which is awesome because 1) your 20’s are kind of weird and 2) not only do I get a whole new year, I get a whole new decade. So I’m pretty excited.
Something that I really want to prioritize this year is my own healing process, which entails a lot of self care.
Coincidentally, self care just so happens to be, probably, my most requested video topic. People want to know about self care, and of course they do because once you find out that there’s this magical thing that can make your life infinitely better, of course you want to jump on that train.
But people are like “I don’t … How do I … I don’t have time.” News flash, if you’re one of those people who feels like you don’t have time for self care, then you’re really in need of self care. As a recovering overachiever who sometimes relapses, I totally understand what you’re feeling, so I want to talk about it.
Step 1 to practicing self care is letting yourself know that you deserve it. Here, I’ll let you know that you deserve it. Ready? YOU deserve it.
So self care is basically any set of practices that makes you feel nourished, whether that’s physically, emotionally, spiritually, all of the above. Self care is putting aside time to recharge in a way that’s meaningful to you, and that can mean different things to different people.
Somewhat surprisingly, I’m actually really introverted, which means that I find rejuvenation in activities that center quiet, calm, and introspection. Others who are extroverted may find it refreshing to be in environments that are active, energetic, social. Some people fall somewhere in the middle. What’s important is recognizing that what might work for some people might not work at all for others.
For example, when I’m feeling sad, lonely, anxious, overwhelmed, what’s going to work best for me to get back to a neutral place are activities like meditation, yoga, cooking, crafting although I’m not very good at it, going to the farmer’s market alone, a bubble bath, journaling, stuff like that. But I have a lot of extroverted friends.
When they know that I need self care, they’ll text me “Hey, you want to go to the club? You want to grab lunch? You want to do such and such social thing?” And I’m like “No, not even a little bit actually.” But for some people what they need at the end of a stressful day is to go out for a couple of drinks and vent, hence why happy hour exists, and none of these options are right or wrong. It’s really just about finding what works for you.
Figuring out what works for you though can be one of the biggest hurdles to self care because it’s not something that we sit down and reflect about a lot. But the problem is that if we don’t already have a list of self care activities that we know are going to work for us, sometimes, we’ll just pick one at random that isn’t actually all that helpful. One way to think through a self care plan is to ask yourself who, what, and where make you feel safe and supported.
Who are the people that you can surround yourself with who will make you feel supported? What are some activities that you can do that bring you a sense of calm, and where are the places that you can go to feel safe and comfortable? For example, earlier when I was talking about introversion I gave you a list of activities that are useful to me to find self care, but what about people?
Actually frequently, I reflect on the relationships in my life and actually hand pick the ones that I want to nourish. I actually sit down and choose a group of people who I want to be my support system, and I reevaluate as necessary. I make sure that toxic people are no longer in my life, and I prioritize the relationships that help me grow. Remembering that it’s up to you who is a part of your life and who isn’t is actually a really powerful aspect of self care.
Another tool that I’ve used and learned through the Sanctuary Institute, which is super cool, and I highly recommend checking it out, is coming up with a kind of self care safety plan for when you’re starting to feel overwhelmed and really need a breather.
Basically, it’s a list of 5 things that you can do sitting at your desk or wherever you are that will calm you down when you’re feeling particularly stressed. My list is breath, tea, walk, crafts, talk. Five really simple things that start with the easiest and work up to the most involved that can help calm down when I’m in a state of anxiety.
The only rules are that they have to be something that you can do in the moment. You can’t put on your list go get a massage or take a vacation, because usually those aren’t things you can just get up and do in the middle of the day. At least one of your activities has to involve contact with another being, which can be a pet.
Self care really isn’t something that takes a lot of time, which is what I think most people think. It can be as easy as consciously choosing who you spend your lunch hour with. It can be remembering to take a 10-minute break in the middle of the day to go for a walk or to do some breathing exercises. It can be as simple as promising yourself that you won’t do homework on the weekends. It can be starting every morning with a cup of tea or a journaling exercise. It can be just reading a poem before bed every night. It can be whatever works for you.
But it’s psychologically necessary. You need to take care of yourself. You need to prioritize yourself because you deserve to be prioritized. Self care is one small step towards self acceptance and self love, and cultivating self love is so, so important because holding yourself in respect and honor and compassion is a really beautiful, powerful thing. It’s the only love guaranteed to you in life.
I hope that this video gave you some kind of a framework to help you start thinking about self care as you move into the new year, and feel free to tweet at me your favorite ways to treat yourself.