Image Credit: Naomi August via Unsplash
Self-care. It's that magical moment in time when you get to just take care of YOU.
You clear your mind, your calendar, and your space of anything that could distract you from levitating right up off the earth and into the Dalai Lama's living room.
Flowers bloom, furniture is dusted, children are behaving, all of your bills are paid, you have dinner bubbling away, and the gravitational tug of technology releases easily — you forget what a cell phone even is.
One *tiny* problem: That's not real life.
You and I are creatures of habit. And our habit is to be busy. Occupied. Focused on creating and maintaining momentum and a functional life. Our culture not only demands that, but it rewards that kind of punishing pace that keeps us glued to our phones and focused on being productive — from the moment we wake up to the moment we collapse into our beds at night.
Oh, and it also demands that we take care of ourselves while we push ourselves past our limits. We are flooded with images of hot stone massages, people smiling while jogging at sunrise, a shared bottle of wine in a Sonoma Valley vineyard at sunset.
Who has time for that? Some people. Some people have time for that. I don't understand those people, but I believe they exist and their lives are probably 167% more fulfilling than mine. But mostly, I think the current ideals of self-care need to be dismantled.
Myth #1: Self-Care Costs Money.
Do you know what's free? Deep breaths. Sitting in traffic, listening to NPR or your favorite slow jams, and taking a deep breath is totally free. Loosen your grip, take the breath all the way down to your toes. And it counts as self-care because breathing is not only necessary for living, it's also therapeutic when you put intention toward it. There are a hundred other little self-care freebies if you're willing put a little thought into it.
Myth #2: Self-Care Has To be Perfect.
Don't get fooled into thinking that you have to create the perfect circumstances in order to care for yourself. Rip up your copy of KonMari, shut down Pinterest, and do one thing that will nourish your life right now. Put on stretchy pants, step away from the thing that is causing you stress and give yourself permission to put it down for an hour and do something that makes you feel alive.
Because whatever is stressing you out will still be there after you get some space and perspective. Don't wait until the stars align. Take charge and take care of you in your imperfect state.
Myth #3: Self-Care Perpetuates Narcissism.
If you believe this — if you believe that taking care of yourself is selfish or self-serving or vain — I want you to look in the mirror right this minute and repeat this phrase: "I deserve to care for myself with gentleness and love." Keep saying it until you believe it. I mean it.
Myth#4: Self-Care Takes Too Much Time.
I really get this one. It's easy to believe that we need to make a big departure from our daily rhythms, which ultimately creates more stress and negates the benefit of taking a little "me" time. That's an epic lie of Trump proportions.
Self-care can take as much or as little time as you can reasonably manage. It can be as quick as lighting a candle when you find yourself getting anxious, or savoring a cup of coffee alone in your closet while your kids chain-watch Daniel Tiger. Maybe it's trying on that cute dress you saw at Target, or going to Iceland to soak in natural hot springs with your favorite person. Time is a continuum, use it to your advantage.
Myth #5: Self-Care Requires Special Tools.
A yoga mat made of recycled plastic bottles harvested from the Pacific ocean, a $60 face mask made from koala poop, or an expensive essential oil kit that your friends on Facebook keep insisting that you need in order to achieve your next level of enlightenment and also heal that pesky yeast infection that WILL NOT QUIT once and for all. A blanket in the grass or a little sugar in your face wash and a boat load of coconut oil will have a similar effect, and you probably already have them in your home right now.
Myth #6: Self-Care Is A Clearly Defined Thing.
Nobody can tell you how best to take care of you except for you. Maybe self-care means getting acupuncture once a week for your co-worker, but maybe it means a bath at night after a long day for you because the prospect of being stuck with 30 needles at a time makes you freak right the eff out.
You do what makes YOU feel good in your body, mind, and spirit. Because only you can determine that.