What’s holding you back from practicing self care?
I’m guessing a few things – you’re not sure you can fit it in, you’re not sure what to do as self care, and you’re not sure you deserve self care. We’ve talked about how to fit in self care, so I won’t belabor that point. I had someone ask me the other day how to know what to do as self care, so I thought we would consider that today.
What is self care?
Broadly, self care is any action you take to preserve or improve your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. Many things can be self care. As you know, I like to read and write, but that’s not all I do for self care. I love to try new things, and I love to dance. I also require a lot of alone time and down time, and making time for that is self care for me. My daughter likes to bake and run. My husband watches sports and walks. My son plays sports and the violin.
Anything you can do with intention and mindfulness that feeds your body, mind, and soul can be self care. So now I’m going to ask you flowchart style questions to help you discover what activities might be self care for you. You may want to write down your responses.
- What did you love to do when you were a kid? What activity made you lose track of time and place? Write down as many answers as you have; do not hold back. If it’s dancing, cooking, shopping, helping people, whatever it might be – write it down. Then explore the following questions in light of each response you gave.
- What did you love about that activity?
- How can you do that activity now as an adult?
- What is keeping you from participating in that activity as an adult? I’m asking things like are you still physically capable of doing the activity (ie: if you were a competitive gymnast as a child, your body may not allow you to participate fully in that activity any more). I’m also asking if fear is keeping you from the activity (ie: I played the clarinet through my freshman year in college then stopped. I would love to play now, but I’m afraid of how awful I’ll sound and hard it will be to get my breathing back to what I need it to be. I’m clearly still a work in progress.). I’m also asking if finances are prohibiting you from participating in an activity (ie: some hobbies are expensive, like shopping)
- How can you move beyond what’s keeping you from participating in the activity? Here is your chance to think creatively.
Did you love gymnastics when you were young, but now it’s difficult to walk a flight of stairs? Consider your response regarding what you love about the activity. If it’s physical movement, maybe you can take an exercise class. If it’s artistry, maybe you can dance along with some Youtube videos. If it’s competition, maybe you can join a competitive league of some sort. If it’s the love of the sport itself, maybe you can volunteer in some capacity with a local gymnastics league. What else can you think of?
I’ll work through my clarinet example. I loved everything about the instrument, music, and being in the band. I loved to practice. I loved rehearsals. I loved concerts. I loved every last bit of it. Then I went to college and apparently lost my mind, because I stopped playing. Weird. My son plays violin, so I actually get a lot of vicarious joy through him, which some days actually is self care. Nevertheless, to move past my fear of how bad I’ll sound if I played my clarinet, I need to address the limiting belief underlying that fear. That limiting belief is that I won’t be able to play as well as I used to. And beneath that is the question Why do I need to be able to play as well? The answer to that is pride. Ouch. It just got ugly in the middle of this blog post. There is a simple solution here – pick up my clarinet and practice. The more I play, the better I will get, and the more I’ll practice self care. I’ll need to get some reeds to start, so I’ll go on Amazon and order some. Somebody please check back on me to see if I followed through. Whew. That was a little uncomfortable, but it will be worth it. Exploring these questions may prove uncomfortable for you, too, but it will also prove worthwhile.
Well, let’s tackle the shopping scenario next. Perhaps you love to shop but the way your bank account is set up, you can’t do it as often as you’d like. What do you love about shopping? Is it research? Perhaps you can hunt down deals for your family and friends. Is it the rush of finding just the right item? Perhaps you can shop with someone and experience the same satisfaction without spending the money. If you’re like many educators, you have a side hustle. Maybe you can get a job with a company like Instacart. What else can you think of?
- How will you prioritize this self care activity in your life?
- Who will you be once you’ve done so?
I hope this activity has brought you a little closer to self care. And I was being a bit sneaky; this activity is self care. It’s helping you slow down, reflect, and practice mindfulness and intentionality. You got a chance to experience a little life coaching. How was it? How are you? What’s your next step? What support do you need? Please post a comment, so we can encourage each other.
Roshaunda D. Cade, Ph.D. is an educator, writer, and creator. She lives in St. Louis, MO with her husband and teenage children and enjoys reading, writing, dancing, and pushing her creative boundaries. Jumpstart your self care journaling habit with one of her free downloadable journal pages.