Updated: Sep 12, 2020
What is self care?
It's a lot of things...depending on who, and when, you ask. It's become quite an iconic figure of speech, "remember to self care," is a common phrase to hear in a commercial now but it's much more complicated in praxis. If we aren't careful an attempt at self care can slide into self medicating and self destructive.
Escapism is not self care. Engaging in harmful and risky behaviors is not self care. What feels good isn't always good, self harm to punish ourselves for perceived mistakes isn't accountability. No amount of emotional or physical cutting will correct the trauma you are swimming in. Rituals of self care can be a road out of these unhealthy cycles.
Sometimes self care isn't anything that feels good in the immediate but is good for us over time - like eating healthy + exercising. Sometimes it feels good and is good - like a warm bath or time with our therapist.
A good self care plan begins with healthy rituals that will benefit us in both the long and short term. Since it will be something we do often it shouldn't be something we hate! This matters because we set ourselves up for failure when we set unrealistic goals for ourselves.
It is self sabotage to try to create a ritual around cooking, If you have a struggle relationship with food. If you are not a morning person, setting up a self care ritual around early morning jogging might do more harm then good.
When we aren't able to maintain the ritual or see transformation through it we tend to spiral into our feeling of unworthiness and defeat. If left unchecked these feelings feed our self doubts and insecurities.
Instead, choose activities that fill you with joy, feed your ambitions and sooth your soul. In this way you prioritize and normalize goodness for yourself. A place and time and moment to center and focus.
What is a self care ritual?
It is a commitment to yourself that involves self improvement, self love, self care, or a combination. A chance to check in, assess, remember, and rediscover who you are at a set time, maybe everyday, week, month, or at the very least one weekend every season.
This is a message from the universe to set some time aside for your personal well being. Create a plan, a date, to meet yourself in a safe and quiet place and feel your feelings in order to work through what rituals of self care are for you. Meet yourself mind, body, soul, and bend without breaking. Whether you incorporate movement, art, song, rest, therapy, meals, meditation, or prayer is up to you. Everyone has their own preferences and their own self care journey to move through.
How to get started...
You can create self care rituals daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally etc. I recommend a combination. For example, my morning coffee time is a daily ritual and it is a must, when I skip it, it throws my entire day off. Coffee time is a chance to ease into my day, prioritize, and set appropriate limitations where needed. A weekly self care ritual could be group therapy or exclusive and quality time with a loved one. Every month, I enjoy cleansing and warding my home and remove stagnant energy.
It is up to you, your likes, your needs, and your goals. Time at the dentist isn't necessarily the best way to spend a day but it's important and necessary self care. A good self care plan includes rituals that are good and healthy for us. Some of these things will be activities we absolutely love and some will be activities we hate but support our physical, mental, spiritual and emotional wellness..
These activities vary from yearly check ups with our doctors, therapists, and counselors to seasonal cleaning and organizing at home. Sometimes self care looks more like confronting our spending and less like taking a nap. Sometimes self care looks like ensuring we get our daily meditations in, this process and the pathways we take are unique to us as individuals.
Starting a good self care plan will take some reflection and research. If you have the funds, you can enlist a self care doula - like me - or ask some of your most supportive friends to help keep you accountable on your path to healing .
Put together a good team of folks you can count on to remind you of the importance of this work. Make sure your people will give you what you need when you need it. Whether it's a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or a bold cheerleader, keep your circle close and lean on them unapologetically. In the beginning, it might feel like you are doing too much but once you get into good habits, you'll see yourself needing less support and perhaps even moving into more supportive roles yourself.
Tools you might need
A journal to keep track of your journey - whether it's simple notes about your mood or deep thoughts about what you are trying to manifest on your journey, journal writing can help you keep perspective while also tracking your progress.
Some fantastic rewards - goal setting and manifesting our heart's desires is serious business and it takes some work to get on a path of self love and care so think about how you will treat yourself (daily to yearly) for all your hard work.
A calendar to make time - seeing your needs met will require some discipline, especially if you aren't use to thinking about your needs, keeping a self care calendar (digital or analog) can help you with visualizing goals, appointment setting, and scheduling meditation and meals.
The tools and talisman we will take and use on our way will depend on our own specific dharma. For me, a disciplined self care plan gave me permission to think about that path and how to walk it authentically. What does your self care plan look like? What are you hoping to gain on your self care journey?
Take the self care challenge for support and coaching along the way!!