Wow, has it been a while. Unfortunately, that is one of my biggest character flaws. I tend to go in fits and starts which is, not to put too fine a point on it, a piss poor way to build a brand, a following, or a business. But while I’ve been absent, I’ve been working hard at re-defining and learning what self-care really is and until recently, I was unable to put it to words. In the end, I never did put it to words either. Instead, the quote that struck me to the core, that I’ve shared here with you here, and that so perfectly, succinctly defines what I’ve been working on, is from author and journalist, Brianna Wiest. When I saw this whilst mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, it woke me up and put to words exactly what I’ve been doing for the first quarter of 2019.
Most of us, when asked to define self-care or describe what we do when we think of self-care, will absolutely answer, “baths,” “me time,” and other things we most commonly believe are taking care of ourselves. And sure, to a degree, having a long, hot bath, or getting our hair and nails done are indeed little forms of self-care. We’re taking a time out, time to care for ourselves in ways that make us happy. At least, happy in the moment. But that happiness is usually fleeting and when the bath has drained or we’ve left the salon, we’re right back in the thick of that which we were trying so hard to escape for a while.
Yet we never stop to think about why we need to take these time outs to escape. I mean, really stop to think. Sure, it’s easy enough to say that it was a busy day, a bad day; that we’re frazzled and all done with adulting and life for the day. We joke about mommy wine time (a whole different topic that really belies our burgeoning, lonely, socially approved alcoholism), about getting away from a spouse, significant other, kids…yet never once in this inner narrative of ours do we ask why.
Why have we built lives that require some form of escape from? Work stress, home life chaos, relationship stress – these are all pretty normal aspects of life. They come with the territory, as it were, and there’s no getting away from that without serious escapism, usually in the form of significant amounts of illegal substances.
With this in mind, I’ve spent the last few months re-shaping how I live. Of course, my bullet journal and my daily habits and routines are still pre-eminent features in my day-to-day life, but what isn’t anymore, or at least, what I’m working towards now, is eliminating personally set obligations that don’t bring me anything but stress. I left Swap-Bot. I left many groups on social media outlets that were less about support and really, just toxic art cliques. I’ve scaled back how often I go out after work, and I’ve chosen to stop pressuring myself over what to do at the weekends with the kids when we have them. I’ve even stopped forcing myself to write or create when the muse just can’t be found. So when I do write or make art, it’s from the heart and with joy, not because of some personal deadline or requirement I’ve set for myself.
I’ve added yoga to my daily routine, and mindful morning movements. I’ve taken out things that stopped being helpful or meaningful, and added things that are. And here’s what I’m finding – the more I build this life, the less I want to be elsewhere, doing other things, surrounded by distractions. I’ve lost that FOMO (fear of missing out) when I stay home, and I can say without question that this is the first time in my life that I’ve experienced this feeling.
Of course there’s still stress. Work is a never ending ball of stress. My boyfriend and I argue sometimes. The kids are crazy and when they leave, I miss them terribly but I drink in the quiet they’ve left in their wake. Unexpected crises rear their ugly heads too. Yet, I don’t feel a pressing need to just…get away anymore. It’s a work in progress, but I can definitively say that self-care for me is no longer a warm bath and mani-pedi. It’s all about making the big choices, the big changes, and building that life I’m so eager to live.
So tell us, what do you think about self-care? How do you define and practise it? Let us know in the comments!