Self-care sounds like such a simple concept, doesn’t it? Not terribly radical at all. But in a society that rewards overtime and discourages vacations, self-care easily falls by the wayside for so many. We’re often so focused on things we need to do for work, for school, for family that we forget about ourselves. I think that taking the time to step away from outside obligations to do something solely for your own good is pretty damn radical these days.
Self-care is talked about quite a bit within social justice communities. As Lauryn Hill once sang, “How you gonna win if you ain’t right within?” So true. How can we do the difficult work of community building, organizing, dismantling systems of oppression if we’re run down, exhausted both mentally and physically? It’s hard to extend compassion to your fellow humans if you can’t even extend it to yourself.
When I talk about self-care, I don’t necessarily mean pampering or self-indulgence, though those things can be wonderful self-soothing techniques and can function as temporary self-care acts. But to truly practice self-care is to make a lasting commitment to yourself, something less fleeting than a pedicure. It takes time and practice to really get into a self-care routine. It’s something I’m still working on.
Here are some things that I’m incorporating into my own self-care plan:
*Drink more water. I know that I feel bad if I don’t drink enough water throughout the day so I’m attempting to be more cognizant of how much I’m taking in, especially while I’m at work (which is when I tend to ignore my own needs the most).
*Get regular bodywork. My job is very physical and as I’ve mentioned before, it’s slowly destroying my body. I recently discovered the amazing Sage Community Health Collective and started getting regular Asian Body Therapy and shiatsu.
*Stretch more/do yoga. Again with the job causing stress on my body. I don’t stretch enough, nor do I use my foam roller as much as I should (though I made the commitment to try to use it daily after my practitioner at Sage felt my IT Band).
*Get more sleep. I’m really bad at this most of the time. I tend to get 6 hours a few nights a week and then end up sleeping anywhere from 9-12 on my late days/weekends. I know it’s not healthy and I need to work toward consistently getting 8 hours of sleep a night.
*Dance! For reasons I’m saving for another post, I stopped belly dancing several months ago and before that I was only attending class sporadically. But a few weeks ago I committed to a 3-month class.
I also try to have at least one evening per week where I can just veg out and not feel guilty about it.
All of these things seem so simple and for the most part, they are. The hard part is carving out time in the day to achieve them without feeling guilty for doing so. That last part is key because a major component of starting a self-care plan is learning that you are, in fact, worthy and deserving of this care.
How about you? What do you do for self-care?