If I am honest, my self-care changes seasonally. Part of that is because some seasons draw me out more than others (the spring and summer see my yearning for more outside time) and also because my responsibilities change at different times of the year (like many parents, the school year increases my demands elsewhere because of Happy and also because of my own teaching responsibilities).
Right now, I am at a time where I can give myself a bit more self-care than I can at other times of the year and my goal after every summer is to take a little bit more of my summer self-care framework into the rest of the year. If summer (or the current season you are in wherever you might the in the world; Hello Aussies, I am thinking of you!), is a time where you can give yourself a bit more care, let’s focus on really building that habit so that a higher level of self-care can be sustained at different times of the year. If this is a harder time of the year for self-care, concentrate on executing your daily minimum for a week or two and then challenge yourself to add a care item or two each week to up your minimum a little.
Sometimes we get panicky that the more we care for ourselves, the less we will be able to attend to elsewhere. What I have found is that, actually, the more we care for ourselves, the more compassionately and passionately we are able to give of ourselves. The truth is that what we give to ourselves, radiates out. If your soul is starved, it is hard to have anything to offer others. If your soul is nurtured, you are infinitely more capable of nurturing. Skeptical? I dare you to try it for yourself.
Yesterday, I asked you to sit down and write out your minimum self-care list and promised to share my own with you today. Here we go.
MY MINIMUM SELF-CARE:
Five hours of sleep (I really want to move the meter on this minimum to six; I hope to do that this summer while I work on actually getting my ideal).
Not missing more than one week night at home for meetings, speaking events, or fun things like book club.
Exercising at least three days a week (cardio, strength training, yoga, Pilates).
Quality time with Happy (playing in the yard, playing inside, reading)
At least ten minutes of (book) reading.
Moisturize my skin.
Brush/Floss my teeth.
Take vitamins, medications.
Drink at least 50 ounces of water.
Hug and kiss my loved ones.
Talk to one of my touchstone (the kind of people who you can tell all of your truth to and ground/guide you in that experience) people.
Stretch as soon as needed.
Eat three relatively healthy square meals (an eye towards healthy, balanced, less processed, and home cooked) a day and a couple snacks.
Sit outside at least five minutes a day (to just enjoy and observe the inner and outer happenings) at least three days a week.
Having at least one day a work week where I work only from home (no outside meetings).
Working minimally (if at all) on the weekends (sometimes I do workshops on the weekends but, other than that, I try not to work weekends– writing, grading, answering emails, etc.).
Sing (predominantly silly songs with Happy that narrate what we are doing or must do or sweet songs that let us cuddle).
Watch something entertaining on TV (The Voice, So You Think You Can Dance, Parenthood, Scandal, Modern Family are some of my favorites).
Not talking badly about myself to myself or anyone else.
I also asked you to write out your ideal self-care list.
MY IDEAL SELF-CARE (the above list and these modifications or additions):
At least eight hours of sleep.
Exercising at least five days a week (cardio, strength training, yoga, Pilates).
At least 15 minutes of book reading.
Drink at least 66 ounces of water.
Eat mostly home-cooked, healthy meals and healthy snacks each day (with a big focus on plant-based, less processed).
Harvesting a home garden.
A monthly massage.
A regular hair-cut (every 2 months or so).
An every six week pedicure.
A good soaking hot bath once a month.
An annual physical (including blood work and skin check!).Drafting and living a birthday list.
Seeing friends a couple times a month.
Sit outside at least five minutes a day daily.
There are two lists for a reason. It would be easy for me to just print this out and try to strong arm my way through all of these things on both lists daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, or yearly. But while I want to live with intention and attention, I do not want to strong arm my way through life so the minimum and ideal list are perfect for me. I’ve created a life where the minimum usually happens and where I can, everyday, try to incorporate a thing or seven off the ideal list, but, truth be told, this comes from more than a decade of practice and I still consider every single day a part of my self-care practice. I practice self-care because it would be naive of me to think that I could perfect it and never ever need to consider again whether or not I am taking adequate care of me.I practice self-care because I think practice is the most gracious thing to ask of myself and I know that neither perfection nor imperfection exists.
So write your two lists. Make sure your minimum list gives you a healthy baseline of care as you move through life. And once you are feeling good about your minimum self-care practice, give it some flair with items from your ideal self-care list. While you are at it, pay attention to how much better you feel and how much more you are able to offer yourself and the world when you actively take your self-care into your hands.
What does your minimum self-care look like? What does your ideal self-care look like? What do you need to help you practice?