How to Actually Make Self-Care Happen in Your Life
Here are three ways to just get it happening, even when it feels impossible.
1) Start really, really, really small.
I remember the very first Wellness Circle I facilitated, several years ago. I was co-facilitating with two moms of teens who had worked with Wellness Circles before, and they were leading a conversation about self-care. One of them gave the example of taking a bath with a book and a glass of wine, surrounded by candles.
I looked around the room and observed that the women in the room, many of whom had very small children, had all glazed over. The candlelit bath felt HUGE to them – totally unobtainable, and as the single mom of a small child myself, I could definitely relate. I mentioned what I was feeling, and that I often was unable to find the time to even wash my face, and set as my personal goal, “Splash water in the general direction of my face once a day.”
There was an absolute wave of relief in the room. NOW this was within reach, and moms were adding stuff to the list like, “Brush teeth,” and “Get dressed before 3 pm.” We were laughing pretty loud at how completely unhygienic we were as a group, and we were starting really, really, really small, and it felt good.
And here’s the really cool part. I committed to splashing water in the general direction of my face once a day. And there were some days that that was all I could do. BUT I took those moments in, I reveled in them, I honoured myself in that small way, and it warmed me up. And, on other days, I suddenly discovered that having a specific, almost symbolic, plan for self-care opened up the time and space to actually wash my face. Pretty soon, I was washing my face most days, and finding other ways to take moments to care for myself.
2) Start big, and schedule it in.
I shared this story at a Circle this year and one mom said, “That story makes me feel so resentful. I feel like I’m always minimizing, cutting back, and making myself the last priority.” So here’s another possibility. START BIG. Commit whatever time, effort, money, and brain-space that is needed and make a plan to take care of you. Depending on your children’s ages and your family situation, it may be something that feels enormous, like a weekend away, it might be a weekly dance or yoga class, or a weekly (or daily?!) candlelit bath. You may need to take a stand. You may need to enlist your whole family’s support.
3) Remember that this is an experiment.
Most of us are no good at self-care. We don’t know what we need. We don’t know how to ask for support. We feel selfish and stiff and awkward taking a stand and that makes it all feel stressful and empty even if we do get to take time for ourselves. This is an experiment! You are learning something new, and it may take time and practice to figure out what you need, how to ask for support, and how to feel good about it all. You’ll be acting in the world and inside of you to make it all come together.
Don’t fall into the trap of getting stressed if it doesn’t work out perfectly the first time. Thank yourself wholeheartedly for cheerfully dealing with any issues, changes, or even a cancellation of the plans. You did the best you could. Stay committed to loving yourself! You deserve appreciation and gratitude and love, and sometimes things don’t work as we planned. If the first time doesn’t work out, recommit, start again, or try another way, just like you would if your child’s birthday party somehow got cancelled.
If you really want to get this self-care thing on track, check out this blog post about Why Self-Care is So Darn Hard and this one on The Key to Self-Care That Nobody Talks About. Then follow this link to find out all about Women’s Wellness Circles: Exploring Experiences and Expressions of Motherhood. I’d love to share your journey!
Please share about how you have experimented with self-care, big or small, below – what works, and what doesn’t!
Thank you for sharing<3.