“Self-care” has become a cultural phenomenon, the roots of social media movements like “Self-care Saturday” and hashtags ranging from #selfcare to #metime. I am all for self-care and making something so necessary equally popular is fantastic. What gives me pause however is that so many of these hashtags sit beneath photos of impossible vacations, brand new pairs of shoes, and sparkling glasses of rose.
Again, all wonderful things but… can you see what’s missing from this picture? They are all external things that remove us from the present. Enjoying material things is all well and good but when we move away from ourselves and seek “care” from the physical world, we’re shortchanging ourselves and the long-lasting gifts we can receive.
The kabbalists teach that the physical world—our senses, possessions, status, and all things material—is a mere 1% of our experience. The other 99% of our experience can’t be physically seen or touched—our emotions, dreams, intentions, intuition. When we seek the physical as a way to connect to the non-physical we are getting it backward. We can’t find “self” outside of self. Let’s start a trend of putting the “self” back in “self-care” without needing to purchase a single thing.
Make Home a Retreat
Vacations and massages are beautiful ways to treat ourselves but we don’t always have the time or the means for these kinds of luxuries. What we all have, though, is home. Home is where we feed our soul and heal ourselves. It is our reprieve from the daily onslaught of information, the comings-and-goings of everyone we know, drama, and illusion. Our home is our sanctuary, a place to rest and to reconnect not just to ourselves, but to our loved ones. It is so important to me that my house be a safe place, for both me and for my family.
How can you create the energy of sanctuary in your home? It doesn’t have to be the whole house, it can be your bedroom or a certain area. If you’re feeling stuck, think back to a time when you felt rested and peaceful, that is the environment to recreate.
Yes, we do share our homes with our families but autonomous down-time can be a practice for everyone. It doesn’t have to be elaborate; a comfortable chair and a good book, a journaling session while listening to your favorite music, or an evening meditation practice. I know, many people think of “taking a break” as getting out of the house and if you consider yourself to be a person who needs a vacation from your home, this is especially for you.
Put Yourself First. No, Really.
Wearing yourself thin taking care of all your responsibilities, plus the needs of everyone else before your own is simply not sustainable. We are all here to fulfill our purpose and walk our own spiritual path. Listening to the needs of your soul ensures that you are nourished spiritually. If you don’t put that primary purpose first: you —achieving your spiritual goals will be impossible.
No one talks about putting yourself first, personally, I find it refreshing. I’m talking about being self-interested, not self-centered. If you are spending time becoming the best version of yourself, and living a life of joy, then that excitement and happiness become an inspiration to everyone around you. Spending time on what makes you “you” also makes you a better husband/wife, father/mother, team member, and friend. There is a reason we are instructed on airplanes to secure our oxygen masks before helping others with theirs. It’s so important to remember that you can’t give what you don’t have.
It’s easy, this time of year particularly, to get into the mindset that your purpose is to dedicate yourself solely to giving to everyone else. For a time, we can even thrive off the energy. After all, women and especially mothers, are multi-tasking superheroes! (Men tend to be more single-minded, which is actually a gift I sometimes wish I possessed.) You can beautifully decorate your whole house, work full-time, bake for the fundraising bake sale, donate your time at the food bank, help your children with their homework and at the end of the day fall in bed exhausted, but accomplished.
Adding true self-care to the priority list is also the best way to ensure that you are taking proper care of yourself. Build a sense of sanctuary into your home, spend some time alone, and get clear on what it is you need before you take on the needs of others. Toss aside your feelings of guilt, the time you spend recharging yourself with things that are close to your heart and soul is really a time of selfless selfishness. It makes you a better person and don’t the people that you love deserve the best version of you? Including you!
Create a time every week, at least once a week, where you consciously connect back to yourself. Use the three suggestions above or come up with some of your own. Share your self-care practices below and help inspire others!