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Self-Care: Keeping it Simple

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

Self-care is a buzz word that tends to get thrown out there as a solution to everything. Feeling stressed at work? Self-care. Feeling dissatisfied with your relationships? Self-care. Unhappy with the current state of the world? Self-care. You get the idea. And like any buzz word that we might tire of hearing, it can be tempting to start disregarding it all together, "throwing the baby out with the bath water," so to speak. After all, self-care cannot solve many of the collective challenges we face, and it isn't fair to anyone to say that self-care is a solution to being overworked or mistreated in any way.

Here is my thought: what if we stopped thinking of a self-care as a cure-all (or even a cure-anything, for that matter)? What if we put self-care back in its place without disregarding its benefits all together? What is self-care is simply about allowing ourselves a little more ease in our life; taking off the edge in a way that is nourishing in both the long and short-term? What if we let it be about tending to our humanity even as we acknowledge that it won't make all our stress or difficulties go away? Have you ever indulged in some luxurious self-care (a bath, a meditation session, what have you) only to feel just as burdened down by life as you did before? It's not that you did it wrong, but perhaps the expectations you had going on were simply too high. How can we expect stress that has been building in our systems over a lifetime to melt in an hour or even a day? However, even if self-care doesn't do it all, it surely means something significant that we take the time to tend to our minds, bodies, and spirits. I'd encourage you to continue to play with what feels good, brings a little ease, and gives due attention to your needs. And if life still feels hard, know that you're still making worthwhile efforts to treat yourself with kindness and compassion.

At risk of making this just another 'how to' guide for getting on the self-care bandwagon, I offer these extra-simple, low investment ideas for how to cultivate self-care as a daily habit to invite a spirit of ease. If these aren't your cup of tea, I invite you to get curious about what little actions might be nourishing and life-giving for you.

Give yourself permission to take the easy route: This can mean different things to different people. For me, I absolutely loathe going to the grocery store during the weekend rush hour. I often feel overwhelmed by the crowd and often leave without items on my list because it simply felt too challenging to navigate my way back through the aisles to grab forgotten items. Finding an hour to shop during the weekday tends to alleviate most of this headache, and also frees up more time on the weekend for leisure. Perhaps for you this would mean shifting your workday slightly to avoid traffic, or preparing meals in advance (or purchasing pre-prepared meals - no judgment here!) to avoid cooking on weeknights, if that's the chore you most dread. If a voice of protest pops up in your mind, you might get curious about that, and see if you can give yourself permission to do what is best for you.

Soothe your senses: Add more colors that bring you peace to the spaces you spend the most time in. Invest in a candle or essential oil that you love the scent of. Sip herbal tea or bubbly water in flavors that bring some delight. Ditch the clothing in your closet that doesn't feel good against your skin. If you developed a passion for sweatpants during the pandemic, see if you can incorporate more soft and cozy clothing into your everyday wardrobe. Play your favorite music in the background while you fold your laundry. You might ask yourself while engaging in everyday tasks, how can I bring a bit of pleasure into this moment?

Ground in your personhood: Create a ritual for yourself, however small, that provides an opportunity to acknowledge your basic humanity and individuality. We get caught up in the roles we play (employee, parent, leader, neighbor, friend, etc.) and can benefit from pulling back from all they can entail to simply be with our unique selves. For me, I feel my feet on the ground, I place one hand on my stomach and another over my heart, and I breathe. It takes only a few moments, but that's often enough to be reminded I am so much more than any role, challenge, expectation, or stressful moment. It doesn't make all my troubles disappear, but it helps me stay anchored through the storm. Perhaps for you it would be doodling a funny picture to express how you're feeling, or humming a melody, or moving your body in a way that feels good. The great expanse inside you is grand, and you deserve to tap into it!

What would you add to this list? I invite you to observe what subtle shifts emerge as you incorporate more moments of simple self-care.

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