Originally written for Hilary’s.
Do you stay up late, iPhone screen an inch from your face? Does your closest daily “break” look like sitting in your car, eating Chipotle whilst checking Instagram?
Hello, most humans in the western world!
Sometimes in the beautiful chaos of life, we have to just… stop. As in stop what we are doing and make space, y’know? Like, now. Amidst the deadlines and injuries and achy hearts. Amidst the gunk and magic of our weeks, we must prioritize that brief moment alone, or that extra snuggle, that long stretch, that sip of water. A break from it all is something we must create for ourselves, or it won’t happen. Life soaks into the empty moments and we just keep on keepin’ on. Spaciousness and self care must be cultivated – like a garden. Tomatoes don’t water themselves, ya’ll.
There is a common, Ohhhh I really shouldn’t, narrative when it comes to self-care. I’m here to say that feeling guilty for taking care of ourselves is totally bonkers, and like a 3 lb. handheld pixelated gameboy, just plain out of date. It’s time to update our thinking.
We feel guilty taking an hour to go get a deep tissue massage, so instead we impulsively eat a bag of M&M’s in the back seat of our car while our kid has soccer practice. After an intense day at work, we feel narcissistic taking a long walk before we get back to our roommates, so instead we spend an hour numbing out on Facebook. Or, we become the employee who smokes all day because it’s the way to get some peace and quiet away from their to-do list. The point is,the need to relax will express itself negatively if we don’t acknowledge its importance.
There are times in life when we feel like we are just in survival mode. Some days just being able brush our hair and put on clean underwear feels like winning an Olympic medal. And guess what, they should be celebrated as such. Life is cyclical. There are days when we barely get through the day and then times when we do a thousand things and change people’s lives. The way this happens is by first getting up close and personal with who we are and what our soul needs. By self care. We can’t work magic (Read: be a mama, CEO, volunteer, artist) when we are deflated zombies.
There is incredible research about the power of mindfulness. It has the power to transform our relationship with stress and suffering. There are awesome apps that guide us to meditate or practice yoga anywhere. There are yoga studios popping up everywhere: San Francisco and Chicago’s airports now offer a yoga studio for travelers. We all have gym memberships gathering dust, blenders that haven’t seen protein powders in months and bath tubs used as storage containers.
The question isn’t what to do. The question is how can we permit ourselves to just take a break? We must believe in the importance of putting ourselves first.
The basic truth is, you can’t give from an empty cup.
When we take time to nourish ourselves, we feel loved and respected by the person closest to us – Ourselves! When we do this, we feel more energized and alive. We feel a sense of self-love infused fullness that we want to spill out, to sprinkle over our friends and family, children and co-workers like fairy dust.
Here are some ideas on ways to give back to YOU:
1) Be here now: Breathe. Even in the craziest of days, you can stop. Let’s try: Can you stop reading this, close your eyes and exhale? What’s the most playful thing you can do in the next 5 minutes? Extra credit if it involves leaving your screen behind.
2) Go have a spa day: Go all out and book a massage, facial and/or pedicure. Get your hairstyle changed, get a full body chocolate scrub. If money is tight, you can often get access to a steam room and sauna at a local hotel for very little money.
3) Go on a long walk heading nowhere, with no cell phone. Explore in your own city.
4) Get a new book, listen to new music, find a rad podcast. You can do this for free with the library and this thing called the internet. Take time to curate new positive stimulus and inspiration.
5) Say no. What obligation can you say no to this week? What can you miss? If going is going to make you feel resentful, can you just stay home and take care of you?