How many times have I heard of the “Put on your oxygen mask before helping others” metaphor?
The conversation about self care isn’t a new one. Everyday I see lists touting why self-care is important or what type of care is the most important. There’s even subscription boxes and TED talks focused on taking care of ourselves. Those listicles make self-care sparkle and shine, but end up making us feel inadequate. In addition to our already busy lives, we’re supposed to make time for exercise, journaling, and more sleep.
I’m a mother who runs a business, writes on various sites, and work part-time for a non-profit. Believe me, the self-care message is hammered into me from all types of media. I know taking care of myself is important.
Sometimes I fantasize about the care I’d give myself. In my ideal world, I would
- Soak in hour-long bubble baths while whittling down my pile of unread books.
- Go to bed at I’m-getting-old-o’clock every night and sleep for 8 hours straight.
- Create organic, healthy low-fat, low-carb, low-everything meals for my family
- Binge watch more television while eating chocolate
I’m lucky if I get to do one of these things each week. Usually none. Ok, maybe watch a few episodes of British Baking Show before baking a batch of cookies. I’ll take 2 sticks of butter with my self-care, please.
Parents really, really, really want to make time to give ourselves all of those care options. Hell, I even pin some of them to my Pinterest boards. We know it’s important and will rejuvenate our spirits. Make us better and more relaxed versions of ourselves.
I don’t want to give up anything I’m doing. Except maybe the dishes, but my husband is the main dishwasher in our home. I want to have it all: quality family time, a job a love, a side hustle I’m passionate about, and a healthy marriage. With a side self-care, please.
Squeezing in bubble baths whenever I remember doesn’t work. Usually I end up taking one because I’m so stressed or burned out that I need to escape right this minute. The point of self-care is making sure I don’t reach the point of burnout. Yet, the cycle continues.
As I was downsizing the desk in my office, I learned that self-care starts in my head. Stay with me for a moment. Take for example, I really want a new chair for my home office. My current one doesn’t support my back well and often complain about back and neck aches. When my husband and I tested some chairs at our local office supply store, I balked at the prices. How could such an ugly chair cost so much?
My husband looked at me and said, “Your health is important and you need to take care of your body when you’re working.”
Versions of the words I tell him often when I nudge his sleepy body off the couch and into bed or remind him to sit down while he eats breakfast instead of hunched over the kitchen counter. Telling him to take care of his body (and mind) because he is important to me.
He was right. Because I work from home, I sit in this chair up to 7 hours a day. More if I’m working against a deadline. I needed to invest in myself–not just money for a chair, but invest the time into myself. How the self-care takes shape isn’t as important as actually taking care of myself. I can take care of myself is small ways that will be just as impactful.
Here’s the dirty secret: Self-care is not glamourous.
Spending $200 on a fancy office chair isn’t sexy. Making sure I eat lunch everyday sounds boring. Cutting back on coffee and drinking more water is not exciting. Crying and laughing my way through a romance book–well, that might be sexy and exciting.
Why don’t we make self-care sexy and exciting?
The next time you get a full 8 hours of sleep (without being woken by your kids), brag about it with your friends. Cheer for your friends who is drinking 8 glasses of water a day (and peeing 8x more than usual)! Recommend that perfect office chair that happens to be on sale. Ok, that last bit was for me. Seriously, if you have chair recommendations, leave a comment.
If we give ourselves and our friends positive reinforcement for our self-care activities, maybe we’ll make more time for them. The same way we reward our children for making good choices.
Let’s make self-care something fun and not something we’re supposed to do.
How will you make self-care more fun?
P.S. Seriously, give me your chair recommendations. My back and neck will thank you.