Self care felt like a chore. It felt like starting a new diet or going back to the gym. It seemed selfish, and certainly was not something I was used to doing.
It felt like something for other people — you know, the good people of the world who are disciplined and seem to have it all together, who were taking care of themselves both physically and mentally. It felt like it wasn’t for me. But last year, through a bit of a “meltdown,” some minor health concerns and some major anxiety, I realized I couldn’t go on without it. So I stopped hiding my messy self and began my journey.
Radical self care
I started to reach out to family, friends, my doctor and a therapist. Some of these friends were women I’d met in a social media group. In a conversation with one of these women, she mentioned something about “radical self care” and I thought, “what in the world is that and who does that?!” So I asked and she said it meant establishing self care routines for myself every day, even if just for ten minutes. She used the example of creating a bathroom routine every morning that included washing my face, brushing my teeth, using pretty soaps, hand scrubs etc. to start my day off by caring for myself. This was a new concept as I’d never really had a morning routine, nor had I ever pampered myself with some of these things.
I took her idea and ran with it. Not only did I start to establish that routine, but I “dolled it up” even more by making my bathroom a little sanctuary, if you will. I printed out inspirational memes I found online and stuck them to my bathroom mirror. Then I got adventurous and started making some of my own skin care products like body butters and aromatic bath salts. I started treating myself to baths — a great time to relax, turn out the lights, light a candle and take the time to either try to turn my monkey mind off, or to pray.
From small things to big
I eventually started to follow my passion into aromatherapy and enrolled in an aromatherapy certification program. I have been practicing making blends that I enjoy for diffusing to help support my emotional self care. I’ve also made personal inhalers that I carry around in my purse — one for calming and one for uplifting my spirits. When I inhale these, I have a new little routine of taking that time to do some deep cleansing breaths that help calm and/or center me, and also using the mantra “I am ok.” When I inhale, I say “I am.” When exhaling, I say “ok.”
This new self care gig even carried over to my physical self care. While I do still struggle at times to manage my weight (I am always a work in progress), I decided to see an integrative physician and a nutritionist. I addressed some nutritional deficiencies, got a doable food plan (not a “diet!”) to find my way back to physical and emotional health. For the first time in my life, taking care of my physical health like losing weight was not about vanity, but health! This, coupled with my emotional self care routines, has me feeling more on solid ground than I may have ever felt in my life!
How do you practice self care, and if you don’t yet, what’s holding you back? We’re in this together — let’s help a sister out and share what we know!