Self-care takes care of itself
Self-care takes care of itself
I thought I sort of knew what self-care meant and however nebulous this idea and notion might have been, I also knew beyond doubt that I wasn’t getting enough of it, that I was not allowing space for it in my day and late evenings.
Self-care was something that got pushed to the bottom of my to-do-list, if it ever figured on any list, and was always sacrificed to the myriad of things that needed attending to and were far more important and so-called constructive.
What has changed and have I got more time for self-care now? Not at all, quite on the contrary – my days are fuller than ever and start a lot earlier than they used to, minus the late nights though. That was one of the first things that fell by the wayside – those frustrating late in the day attempts to get done what I had set out to do and would never get done, especially not after a glass of wine, my regular go to, my deserved right if not entitlement, my relaxation and much anticipated sugar hit at the end of a lot of days.
Self-care consisted of the basics – clean clothes, sometimes new clothes, the odd trip to a spa and soaking in a hot tub or better still, finding a sauna and trying to sweat it all out, let it all dissolve, my favourite purging and cleansing ritual. Difficult in a country firmly rooted in its beach culture and with soaring temperatures in summer, but somehow I managed to find these places every so often and could easily spend hours there, between sweating and resting and then sweating it out some more.
Self-care was always that extra thing to do and I felt that I had no space for it other than the bare minimum of what I was perfunctorily and without much joy, if any, administering to myself.
So what is different now? Self-care is no longer this extra thing, this circumscribed activity that is separate from everything else I do. Self-care is part of everything I do and if it is not (yet), I find ways to incorporate it into what I already do.
And thus, self-care is the way I walk – am I with myself? Or is my mind ahead of me, behind me or in a parallel mind-full existence? I have noticed that my body hates being abandoned and reacts with slight heart palpitations and raciness when I leave my body and get caught up in my thoughts or, worse still, a story in my head.
Self-care is also the way I talk – do I use swear words that feel like they are a curse directed back at me? Do I talk just to talk or do I have something to say? Do I add to the mess of emotions, expressed or unexpressed, that surround us like a thick fog and have hurt other people, lest anybody miss out?
Self-care is allowing space to not rush when I go somewhere or do something – all those fractions of minutes I think I might be able to save by going fast, doing fast, thinking fast; what happens to them? Can I really bank them somewhere to then pull out at my convenience and use later?
And so the list goes on – self-care is the everyday activities done differently, by me and from me and from the inside out rather than bringing something to me from the outside in. I bring myself to an activity, I bring my body and my mind, I move from stillness to the best of my ability which creates space.
Self-care now also means that I take my time getting ready in the morning. I spend that time with me in my warm bathroom to wash my face (yes, it had never occurred to me that my face might need washing other than a perfunctory and hasty splash of water, no matter its temperature), to look after my feet, face and apply moisturiser over my whole body.
Self-care is no longer this mysterious thing that gets relegated to whenever if not never; self-care can be every step I walk and every word I speak as well as the extra care I now take with me and everyone and everything.
And thus, self-care is all around and in the air and no longer on any to-do or wishful thinking list. Self-care takes no time at all. Self-care is what I do while I do what I do.