Cultivating natural, routine self-care is not something that comes from within, it’s a matter of harvesting the best ideas and making them work for us. If left to my own devices, self-care would be a bag of Ruffles, two pedicures a month, a bottle of champagne to myself, and a new wardrobe. Other voices help me to find effective self-care methods rather than just doing what feels good in the moment. For instance, the best self-care tip I ever got was to talk to myself like I’m someone I love – and eventually, I’ll become the person I love the most. I could never have come up with that crap on my own! In a previous post, I wrote about Russell’s tip for doing stuff we liked as kids. Here are a few of the other tips I’ve gathered.
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Sarah says to wink at yourself in the mirror. “It started as a little joke to myself but as I continued doing it I realized that it gave me a little boost.” Sarah is so wise. She goes on, “Self-care often feels like something bigger than it really is. A simple wink can give me some encouragement when there is no time or energy to do something bigger.”
A wink is Sarah’s small way of reminding herself that she’s funny, she’s cool, and she’s her biggest fan. I never thought of the small things I do for myself as self-care, but her advice has me reframing. When I sing to my cat in a Louis Armstrong voice, I’m cracking myself up – I’m forgetting about “performing” for other people and instead showing myself my best assets.
Sam knows that I also give myself a boost with a mantra I learned from a past therapist. “You can do it, little Emma.” From the stairwell of the Catacombs in Paris, to the bathroom before my performance appraisal, to the dressing room when I’m swimsuit shopping, talking to the most vulnerable part of myself sets off a spark. If that isn’t self-care, I don’t know what is!
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This next one is HARD for some of us, myself included. Lexie, who has a great blog called Copper Oranges, writes about that gross, creeping monster, guilt.
“I’m not great at practicing guilt-free self-care. When I relax I tend to make a list in my head of all the things I *should* be doing right now. The best thing I have tried to practice is to allow myself to relax without guilt.”
Being self-aware about guilt is half the battle for me. It’s taken me years, but I’ve transformed myself, for better or worse, from a busy body to a proud lounger. My therapist pointed out to me that I often get down on myself even when I’ve done several hard tasks in a day, but take a break. Giving yourself permission to let go of that guilt could be a huge relief.
Similarly, I find myself taking on other people’s anxiety. A lingering symptom of middle child syndrome, I often “cluck” over the needs of other people. Is she having a good time? Do they feel comfortable in my home? Is this what he wants to be doing? Lately, I identify those worries and blow them away like dandelion puffs. Identifying these bad mental habits make them less and less of a habit, and more like a hiccup.
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Finally, some really great concrete advice from Libby: Take early and late bike rides; swim for free at Barton Springs from 9 to 10 pm; play board games; do yoga; flock to commercial A/C.
After and before work, I can be a lazy potato, but like a cute one. In Texas, those are the most precious hours! I’m going to set a goal for myself to get out of the house before work twice a week, and once a week to get a little dusk exercise!
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Keep those tips coming! I can’t do this alone. I literally made a red wine spritzer last night. I need all the hand-holding I can get. A free tip from me to you: do not make a red wine spritzer!