What I Learned From a Year of Self Care
It’s been just over a year now since I started writing these Self-Care Sunday blog posts as a way to focus on my own self care, while at the same time sharing with you what I’ve learned along the way.
And we’ve mused about the deeper aspects of self care, such as the value of ritual, the fact that self care isn’t always fun or pleasant, and the importance of knowing when we’ve crossed the line from self care into self indulgence.
But the biggest lesson I’ve learned from a year of self care is this: once we’re doing the basics - eating, sleeping, connecting, moving, finding a bit of joy, and observing basic hygiene - self care becomes more about how we approach these things than about the specifics of what we’re doing. Almost anything can become self care if we observe certain principles.
Small actions take on bigger meaning, and “chores” become “care tasks” when we connect with why we’re doing them. Cooking a meal nourishes us and our family and brings us together. Cleaning house gives us a pleasant place to live and makes moving through our days easier. Breathing deeply soothes our nervous system and helps us feel calm and think clearly. Taking a shower keeps our bodies healthy and gives us a few minutes to stop and recenter. Our mindset as we move through everyday life can mean the difference between feeling drained or fulfilled.
Taking care of ourselves requires having a good, honest look at our lives and meeting ourselves where we’re at, rather than where we think we should be. For example, for a long time I was fixated on the idea that I couldn’t be healthy unless I was doing intense exercise and weight training several times a week. But as a chronically ill person, striving for that goal was actually making me sicker - every time I’d try to exercise, I’d end up crashing and not be able to do any exercise at all for weeks afterward. Once I finally accepted the reality of my condition and embraced the gentle movement my body needed, I was finally able to sustain a regular routine. Aligning our expectations with reality is key for self care.
Committing to a self care practice might eventually bring up feelings of regret, anger, or resentment about all the years we spent taking care of everyone except ourselves, or neglecting our health in pursuit of a goal we now realize wasn’t even right for us. Or we might become frustrated if we decide to start taking better care of ourselves but then struggle to stick with it. Berating ourselves, blaming others, or giving up on even trying will get us nowhere - a big dose of compassion is vital for growth. And forgiveness is in itself an act of self care.
This week, think about your everyday activities. What task that you’re already doing might feel different if you approached it in a new way? What chore could be transformed into a care task with a shift in mindset?
Take care of yourself,
Debra Purdy is the owner of ShopEco, a beauty and self care boutique located in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Her mission is to help you thrive through self care you can feel good about. For more self care tips delivered to your inbox and a special birthday treat, click here to subscribe.