Friday, April 3, 2015

Savouring Self Care

My cell phone slipped out of my hands last week and landed face down on our driveway. Its screen is now covered in a filmy spiderweb of cracks, and I can't even blame the kids. The irony is that I spent the last week thinking, "I really need to get a case for my phone. I really need to talk to the Man about getting a case for this phone." But I didn't get a case for the phone, and I never talked to the Man about it, and now...well, let's see if our insurance works in my favor.

Self care tips from the kids:
Get a massage, though preferably not from someone who pulls hair and drools.

The phrase "self care" has been cropping up a lot in my reading lately and in my life. The Man has to get on to me fairly regularly because in my attempts to take care of everyone else, I sometimes forget to take care of myself. Inevitably, that doesn't end well. Last week, for instance, I ended up with a mini-meltdown of despair, which was quickly cleared up after the Man and I realized that I just hadn't slept for about two weeks because I had stopped asking for help with the middle of the night wake ups. No lie.

I guess what I'm saying is that sometimes I treat myself like I do my cell phone. I wait and wait and wait to take care of myself and before I know it, one small slip up has left me feeling shattered. All I needed to do was buy a phone case. Or ask for help. Or take a run. Or go buy clothes that fit right. Or slip out for an hour at the beach. These are not huge things. Sure, huger than nothing, but if I'd done them, I would be left with a smooth cell phone screen and a saner, happier, healthier me.

Do some seasonal decorating and maybe a little artwork with someone you love

But here's the problem: it is so easy to make poor choices in the name of self care. You know what I'm talking about: I sit down to mindlessly surf the internet or stay up late binge reading a novel or watch "just an episode or two or five" of a TV show, because I'm tired and I deserve some rest, and self care, people.  And I'm happy--in the moment--so I think it's a good choice. But this is not self care, not really.

I confuse it with self care, but it isn't, and you know it, and I know it.

Enjoy the view from your window


We need time to relax and decompress. That matters. So how do we differentiate between a walk on the beach and a night on the couch watching four episodes of The West Wing in a row? What is the difference between savouring a few chapters of a well written book and downing the whole thing in one sitting?

Maybe the idea of self care is wrapped up in the word I just used: "savour".

Drink something tasty.
Enjoy it all the way down.

To use a different metaphor, in order to survive, we have to eat. If we don't eat enough, we starve. If we eat too much, we're gluttons. We must feed ourselves, not just our stomachs but our souls, in healthy ways, ways that allow us to savour what nourishes us.

There is such a thing as both too much and too little of a good thing.

Smile and let your mom take your picture.
Making her happy will make you happy.
Smiling will make you happy too.

Let's get specific and go back to the idea of the Man helping me with all the middle of the night wakings. I needed to ask him for help. This is obvious. But what if I then went to the opposite extreme and refused to help him with any of the night wakings, instead demanding he cover them all? While physically that may be a fun choice for me (yay, sleep!), the selfishness involved in choosing to do so would inevitably take its toll on my inner life.

Self care is not supposed to be an all or nothing thing. It is not a case of feast or famine.

When we practice self-care the right way, we learn to slow down, find our rhythm, and allow our soul to be fed. And more than just fed, but well-fed with food worth savouring.

Take a warm bath.

We accept help, but we give it also, because both are good. We work hard, but we also rest, because both are necessary. We learn when to slow down, but also, alternatively perhaps, when to speed up, because both encourage growth.

This is challenging, learning what we truly need and then working towards it, but it can be beautiful as well, as we walk towards the wholeness that allows us to better love ourselves and consequently better love others.

No really, take a bath. Baths = happiness.

{The "He is risen" printable hanging out with my homemade watercolour-speckled bunting is from Jones Design Company. And while you're over there, go read this piece on self-care that helped jumpstart some of these thoughts. And if that's not enough on the subject, you might treat yo' self by reading this post by the Nester and then watching some Parks and Rec.}


  1. The best thing about posting late is that I get to re-read everything you wrote and also see all of the photos fully downloaded. This was a good word of Wisdom. I like my self-care in the form of binge-watching tv shows and binge-eating gummy bears, but these things aren't always available to me, and even though gummy bears are fat free and made with real fruit juice, watching too much tv can burn out your eyeballs, so I get that part. But you are right--there are better ways to relax and unwind than binge-watching 30 Rock. And when I get back to Mundri where I don't have internet streaming options, I will start doing them again. Until then, You are a Genius.