Self-care is definitely a current buzz-word.
Don't get me wrong, I think it's great that so many people are recognizing the lack of rest in our culture as an issue. However, it sometimes just honestly gives me the heebie-jeebies.
This definition from Urban Dictionary cracked me up:
When millennial women choose to ignore all of the tasks they need to accomplish in favor of screwing over their coworkers, doing culturally-appropriative meditation rituals, and drinking La Croix water. Can also involve rubbing ungodly amounts of coconut oil over their skin and listening to vaporwave music while planning an outing to a gentrified book store or record shop.
"Why did you call into work sick 15 minutes before your shift started?"
"Oh, I was practicing self care."
I know the wonderful people I see talking about self-care are not this dysfunctional. However, I think most people tend to play Self-Care Short Game. They decide to go get a massage--$$--, go for a weekend getaway--$$--, hit up the retail-therapy circuit, go out to a fancy meal, get a pedicure, etc. You get the point, right? They go broke for one weekend, and spend the time they should be relaxing actually stressing over the amount of money they spent or the impossible sustainability of it all.
If you want a sustainable practice of Self-Care, you're going to need to play The Long Game. That means finding things that relax you without having to pay out anxiety-inducing funds for relaxation.
Now, before I begin to share some ideas, I should remind you that a big part of this process is listening to yourself. What truly brings you relaxation? For me, that means ignoring everyone else's practices of self-care and coming up with my own. Before that happened, I first had to let go of the idea of it being some glamorous practice with a white backdrop and beach sounds in the distance.
According to the dictionary definition, in order for something to be "sustainable," it cannot deplete resources and must maintain balance.
Ideas for Sustainable Self-Care (a.k.a. The Long Game)
- Write yourself a permission slip. Brene Brown talked about this idea in an interview with Oprah, and I was reminded of it through Reese Witherspoon's Book Club on Instagram. Our society plays by a certain set of rules, but we don't have to. Brene, and now Reese and all of her followers, write themselves permission slips. Brene gives herself permission to be uncool and permission to freak out when she meets Oprah. This week I'm giving myself permission to take off my armor and permission to spend more time on what I love.
- Practice being gentle with yourself. Along a similar line, Bri McKoy is practicing being gentle with herself. Our natural gravitation is to beat ourselves up when we don't mean an expectation. Whose expectations are they, might you ask? Yours, everyone else's, nobody's, it doesn't matter. Be gentle with yourself. Pour another hot cup of coffee. Sit in the moment a little bit longer. Be gentle in your actions, but also in your thoughts. If you don't follow Bri on Insta, I'll be gentle with you as I wait for you to go do so!
- Take a deep breath in of something pleasant. This is probably the most simple and the most grounding practice for me. I'm a fan of essential oils because they help me slow down. I'll dab a few drops on my wrists, rub together, and take a deep breath. I have a diffuser in my classroom and at home that allows for a more prolonged slowing down. I also have a pair of diffusing earrings from Loiljhandmade Jewelry that are just plain adorable. I have the tassel earrings in brown, and they make great fashion accessory, but you can also load them up with a few drops of your favorite essential oil, and it provides a longer-lasting diffusing experience. It sounds weird at first, but it's a lot like a natural perfume! They are also super cheap! They have bracelets, earrings, and now a clip-tassel available. My favorite oil blend on this wide, green earth is Balance by Doterra. My Mom got this one for me in my back-to-school care package, and I LOVE it. It's the perfect blend of a woodsy-grounding aroma (kinda citrus-y, but I looked at the ingredients and I'm not sure that's accurate). Actually, I'm not sure I know how to describe scents well at all. Maybe I should work on that. Just trust me when I say, it's gooooood.
- Show up late. I can't believe I just typed that. Honestly. WHO AM I?! Anyone who knows me is probably thinking the same thing. I'm the perpetually-early-girl. I cannot--and often will not--be any less than 15 minutes early to anything. I try to be on time in many cases, but a desire for control and moderate social anxiety prevent that from ever being a reality. As I sit here writing this, I am late to Presley's softball game. Okay, so I'm not late yet, but I will be if I don't leave soon! Anyway, the point of this one is less about shirking responsibilities, and more about realizing that no amount of showing up early will help me control any situation into perfection. Honestly, that's the root of it. It started so long ago that now it's just habit, but when I tear open the armor to see what's underneath, that's what I've discovered.
Ultimately, these are just a few things I've tried lately that have helped me cultivate a little more breathing room. The point of all this, however, is to make more room for the only one who can provide true and lasting rest--Jesus. My sweet Savior wants me to linger with Him, to make time to stay just a little bit longer in His presence instead of rushing into the world that will always command our attention--if we let it.