This is the number one, and I really mean number one, answer to my questions regarding stress. How can I feel better during this stressful period? Self-care. How can I feel less anxious about (enter ridiculous thing that statistically will probably never happen here)? Self-care. How can I feel less sad? Self-care. The jig is up everyone, take care of yourself and you will feel better. But the one question that remains is “What can I do when self-care feels like a chore?”
More often than not I don’t feel like I have the energy to take care of myself when I’m feeling down and out. The last thing I want to do is sit around breathing in silence when my mind is going a mile a minute. As a culture, so rare are the times where we are actually “sitting with ourselves.” The technology of smart-everythings has made that nearly impossible. We spend the time sitting in a waiting room, standing on line, heck, even sitting at a table at a restaurant when our partner goes to the bathroom, staring at our phones. It has become more of a reflex than a habit to pull out our phone instead of sitting with ourselves. Now, sitting with ourselves doesn’t have to mean actually sitting down and not doing anything. This can mean going for a walk, looking around and taking everything in, or letting your mind wander when you’re waiting for something or someone. This reconnection with ourselves can really be the step we need to take towards self-care. Allowing our minds to speak to our hearts, with an unbroken connection, can oftentimes lead us to fully understanding our own wants, needs, and desires. This is the first, and sometimes the only necessary, step towards self-care.
Top 5 Fave Self-Care Things
- Nettles. Anyone that knows me knows that I say “take nettles” at the sight of any problem. Allergies? Nettles. Back stiffness? Nettles. Disdain for traffic on the way to work? Nettles. This amazing plant essentially does everything we need to do for ourselves. Picture them as the parent cleaning up after you when you have a angsty, teenage breakdown. This powerhouse herb nourishes our kidneys, our adrenals, supplies us with iron so we can TCB, is anti-inflammatory to quell our allergies… asthma… arthritis AND gives us a hefty dose of calcium to boot.
- Bathing with Epsom Salts. Epsom salts not only provide us with a ton of magnesium (which releases tension, calms restlessness and helps us sleep) but they also are extremely anti-inflammatory. I like to bathe in epsom salts not only for their magnesium and anti-inflammatory properties but because salt works really well at cleansing our energetic field. If you are an empath-type, this is great. Let epsom salts wash that man/woman/energy from random rude person at the store right out of our hair (and body). Partner that with a hot dip and our immune systems thank us.
- Long Walks on the Beach (ie: anywhere outside). When I feel ridiculously frazzled, stuck in my head, anxious, depressed, etc. I like to go on a walk. This doesn’t have to be in a glorious forest (although if there’s a forest I’ll definitely walk in it) it can be anywhere. You’ll sometimes find me walking the parking lot outside of my office building or taking a nice, adventurous hike in the woods. Trust me. This works for kids too, way back in my nanny days if the kids were having a tough time I’d take us all outside for a walk.
- Read anything. When I was a kid I’d often kick back and relax with my favorite bottle of Herbal Essences shampoo or a super cool cereal box and get lost (for those few minutes) in the words. Little did I know I was practicing self-care. Giving ourselves permission to take a moment and process words on an actual page (or, in my childhood-case, a bottle). Your eyes slow their roll and it gives you some time to reconnect with yourself. SOS: Please don’t read something on your phone to calm down. This will do the opposite, as your eyes are rapidly moving and you are taking in all that artificial blue light. Opt for the Cap’n instead.
- Stretch. This doesn’t mean you have to go full on yoga pants on me. Stand up, stretch your arms above your head and get your blood circulating. Touch your toes, or your knees, wherever you can reach and allow your muscles to readjust themselves. If you’re into yoga – go do it! Whether that means take a class you keep telling yourself you have no time for or practice a few sun salutations.
Self-care often feels like a chore because I, and mostly everyone else in our culture, tend to want to keep going and going. Stopping to become sedentary and do something nice for myself feels so far from second nature. Before I can even consider doing something relaxing (ie: that epsom bath) it seems like my mind lists at least 10 reasons as to why I shouldn’t be doing it. Self-care then becomes a chore, making it seem counter-intuitive. Our minds have a funny way of doing this to us. Without even realizing it they turn something that normally would calm us down into something that works us up. How do we get away from this and reap the benefits of self-care? That reconnection to ourselves is the first step and then what? Personally, I have to become my own parent.
Think of all the times our parents made us do something “for our own good.” In reality, when we’re adults, we become our own parent.
No one can take care of you like you can take care of yourself. We have to be the parent to ourselves and make ourselves take care of ourselves for our own good. That doesn’t sound like some big “aha Oprah” moment, but it is. Think of all the things we don’t want to do, but we have to. Paying our bills when we’d rather spend the money on something more fun, eating a healthy meal because you know your body will thank you for it – just to name a few. Make self-care one of these must-do’s. Stop what you are doing and make yourself read a chapter of that book that has collected dust on your nightstand, make yourself stand up and stretch your body, make yourself do something that feels good to you. Your mind and body will thank you.
Once you get into the habit of doing things for yourself it won’t feel like such a chore, and if it does – push on through it. Keep taking steps in the right direction and you’ll soon find that you’ve gotten up that huge hill faster than you thought.