New self-care tips you may not have tried
Maternity leave has left me with a lot of time to think about self-care: what it means, what it looks like, and how it shifts over time. I am lucky, because I’m going into motherhood with a strong self-care foundation that I can draw on, even as my identity shifts dramatically, and as I’m going through a deep healing process. These self-care tips may offer you some of the insight I wish I’d had when I entered this process.
This is what I’ve been musing during long periods of rest and slow walks in the sun with my babe.
Behold: some new self-care tips (and lessons) you may not have tried before.
If self-love or self-care aren’t possible, try self-respect.
A few weeks ago, I wrote to my email list:
“In moments of overwhelm, we’re being clobbered with the message that we need to do it all – including offer ourselves aspirational self-care in every moment. The message goes something like: “We need to be doing it all, and anything less than that is not enough.”
This (surprise!) doesn’t actually reduce our overwhelm. In fact, it can make the self-care that we’re “supposed” to be giving ourselves feel far away.
This narrative was tough to shake when my self-care practice shifted to accommodate a new baby.
If I really cared, wouldn’t I be doing all the things?
As it turned out, no.
In this new season of my life, I’m discovering something else. This new companion is there when self-care can’t be. It is there in moments of not feeling like enough.
These days, I am practicing self-respect.
On a daily basis, I offer myself deep respect: for what I do, for what I have done, for what I give. Even on days when it feels like I didn’t do anything, I try to respect myself for what I did manage.
In your moments of overwhelm, I would like to invite you into a space of deep reverence for yourself. It’s decidedly less sexy than a manicure, and way less fun than a massage. It is tough, but important work.
It is also not easy to acknowledge our amazingness in a society that tells us we aren’t enough. But this act of sincere, reverent witnessing is powerful.
Self-respect honors all that you do, even when it doesn’t feel like enough. It is a permission slip to take up space. It is a reminder of our sincere efforts to make the world around us a little more kind – even when we don’t see results right away.
Today, I want to invite you to take just a moment to honor yourself and your efforts. It is not easy to show up in this world as a person who cares. I appreciate you for being willing to do that.”
Break it into the smallest pieces
Self-care doesn’t need to be time-consuming. It can be simple and brief, just so long as it’s intentional. Even just a few deep breaths might support you through your day. Taking baby steps is the key to awesome self-care.
In fact, I recommend against diving into a time-consuming complicated self-care practice when you’re first starting out. Go slow. Break it down into bite-sized pieces.
This will keep you out of a state of overwhelm, which will only discourage you from further self-care. And you’ll experience real success. Let this success build on itself slowly.
The fact is, self-care is a life-long practice. You can’t do it all in one day. So, proceed with gentleness and don’t add more to your plate than you can hand.
Three tips for making it a little more manageable:
Don’t try to do it all – and definitely don’t try to do it all at once
Claim the smallest “wins.”
Do those small things with great love and sincere attention.
Joy – and self-care – are acts of insurrection.
Embracing our joy can be an act of outright defiance and resistance.
Those who would seek to oppress others want to create suffering. Yes, suffering is a natural part of life. But we do not need to succumb, necessarily. We can dance and sing and be unapologetically ourselves. In the face of a government that would seek to make those selves “less than” – to hold ourselves up in our beauty and our joy is a wildly optimistic, rebellious act.
“Joy doesn’t betray but sustains activism. And when you face a politics that aspires to make you fearful, alienated and isolated, joy is a fine initial act of insurrection.” – Rebecca Solnit
In Sacred Focus, I talk a lot about creating more of what you want, and less of what you don’t. Little by little, taking baby steps in the direction of what feels sacred to us. Joy does this on a subliminal level. It lights the way for us to create a new world.
Joy imagines the world in which we want to live.
Instead of only focusing on what we don’t want (which is important, too, but not the point of this post), we can take a more proactive approach. We can start building the world we want to live in by following where joy points us. It is a pre-figurative tool to create new models and a new world in which all people and beings are honored for who they are.
Intention orients us – and reorients us – toward our true north.
To make self-care meaningful, it needs to have intention behind it. Otherwise, we’re just going through the motions, adding more to our plates and following others’ “shoulds.” All of these defeat the purpose of self-care. Plus, when we’re in that place of “shoulds” or detachment, our self-care lacks resonance.
When we bring intention to our self-care – when we claim how we want to show up, even if only for a brief time – we create care that nourishes us. It heals us and brings us back to our true selves. Making self-care just another crappy thing on your to-do list? That takes you farther from yourself.
By aiming ourselves toward our highest intention, day after day or moment after moment, we keep ourselves aligned with what is meaningful, resonant, and true for us. When we’re in that spot, self-care is something we will be drawn back to, again and again.
Intention isn’t a goal. It’s about the tone and energy you want to embody. It’s how you show up and inhabit yourself and your life. Start there.
Your intuition is magic.
You are incredibly wise. To a great extent, you already know what to do. Don’t be afraid to check in with yourself and your intention on a regular basis.
This self-knowledge is not only self-care in and of itself, but it may pave the way for your self-care to be truly your own. The times when I’ve felt regret have been when I didn’t follow my gut/heart/intuition – rarely to never do I feel that way when I listen to my inner voice.
Learning to trust and believe in the magic of your intuition is a beautiful way to experience self-care. It is, ultimately, compassion for and faith in yourself.
Close your eyes right now, take some deep breaths and ask yourself this question: “What would feel good right now?” Listen to the answer, then try to offer yourself some of that.
The answer you receive may surprise you. You may learn something new about what your body, mind, and spirit are craving. But this inner voice is to believed and trusted. This is what it means to be an expert in yourself.
Which leads me to…