March 31, 2023

A Reminder about Self-Care—for those who kinda Suck at It.

 

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I suck at self-care.

Well, at least recently.

And by recently, I mean for the past three or so months. Maybe longer.

The start of the year is always a bit hectic for me. I’ve never been a “new year, new you” type of person, but after New Year’s I immediately start planning for my birthday, which is fun but also involves a lot of energy and expectation at a time when I usually feel like I should be slowing down.

Then we move into February and March, months that tend to bring intense emotional upheaval for me. Some of this I understand. Past losses and grief are often stirred up around this time because of anniversaries and difficult memories.

But for years, the past few especially, these months also bring new stressors. Potential life changes. Big decisions. Health concerns. Bad news.

For whatever reason, and regardless of how well I try to fend off these changes (or at least mentally prepare myself for them), the hits always come—and I struggle to get through them without feeling beaten down at the end.

Because I spend most days just trying to get through the mess while still showing up fully for my life, my relationships, my job, I usually recognize too late that I haven’t actually been showing up very well for myself.

And when I do realize that I’ve been slacking on self-care, I tend to automatically go for the kind of self-care practices that I think should help. I drink more water. I try to exercise more. I get outside with my dog. I keep my therapy appointments.

These practices are all important, and a necessary part of my routine, but they’re not self-care. At least not always. (Except water…always drink more water.)

Some days, I don’t need more exercise. I need to stop pushing so hard and allow myself the freedom to be slow and rest my body. And some days, I don’t need to be outside for hours taking in the fresh air and engaging with the world. I need to cuddle under a blanket and eat comfort food and binge “Love is Blind.” And some days, my therapy needs to be spending an hour or two on FaceTime with my mom and my sister, catching up on their lives and sharing about mine.

Because self-care isn’t about treating ourselves in the moment because it feels like life is falling apart. Self-care isn’t about doubling down on our routine and hoping things just calm down. Self-care isn’t about doing what should make us feel better if it doesn’t make us feel whole.

I came across a video from Oprah this morning and it was the reminder I needed about what true self-care looks like:

 

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“Often when people think about self-care, they think about a trip to the spa or bubble bath. Y’all know I love a bath and there’s nothing wrong with spaing. Love that too. But I think self-care is something deeper. 

It’s a practice that comes with doing the internal work and listening to what you, and only you, need. What you need to refill your cup.

That is a personal thing and it might look differently at different times because there’s going to be days practicing self-care is about, as it was for me this week, turning in earlier. Other times, it may be about making a wholesome meal or saying no to an engagement so you can have some alone time. 

So it’s important to regularly ask yourself, I think, ‘What do I need in this moment to feel whole?’

‘What do I need to feel more whole in this moment?’

And asking yourself this often because self-care shouldn’t have to come out of an imminent need for relief when everything comes tumbling down; it should be deliberate. It should be scheduled, and it should become a habit.”

~

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