I think the question feature that Instagram rolled out a few months ago is one of the more fun things they’ve ever done, both because I like seeing other’s answers, and because I’ve enjoyed answering questions myself! Much like my annual survey, it’s also helpful for EFM research purposes: given the chance to ask anything, what are y’all most curious about?
The topic that sparked the most interest in my last question-answering burst was on self-care. It’s not really a topic I’ve delved into here, but as usual, I have thoughts! :)
The original question: What are some of your favorite ways to incorporate self-care?
Y’all already know I don’t go in for many of the “classic” self care practices: I think baths take too long, my nails chip immediately after I paint them, face masks don’t do anything for me, I don’t like massages… basically, I’m a beautifying curmudgeon. (Though if I had unlimited funds, I would totally get a weekly blow-out… just saying :))
I think self-care is so much broader than its current buzzword status might have us believe, though. For me, it’s less of a list of things to work into my days or weeks, and more a strategy of putting together a life I love, one that I don’t feel like I need a respite from. As much as possible, I build my life from things that energize me instead of drain me, which often means cutting things out more than adding things.
So, what do I consider self-care?
— Evening walks with John. The combination of moving my body, clearing my head through conversation, and connecting with my favorite person will always be the ultimate in self-care for me.
— Hiking, a.k.a. walks in the woods
— Walking through a beautiful neighborhood (bonus points if it has historic homes and lovely gardens)
— Writing, here on EFM or otherwise
— Connecting to the Lord, whether through prayer, worship, scripture, or Write the Word
— Seeing a fun project through from concept to completion (like my first day of fall scones – bonus points if I get the warm fuzzies from blessing other people!)
— Going out to eat at a favorite spot
— Date nights in and date nights out
— Watching a movie or show with John (the catch is that we have to both ONLY be watching, not multitasking!)
Many of these boil down to seeking adventure and beauty as often as possible, in as many ways as possible. To make room for those things, I circle back to the second half of the formula I mentioned above: cutting out things that drain me. When I’m caring for myself well, I don’t feel burdened by a to do list, I don’t feel like I’m wasting time on things that don’t matter to me, and there aren’t tasks I’m dreading looming over my head.
I don’t always succeed at this, but I do have a three-pronged strategy for lessening the burden of the more mundane parts of life:
— First, like I mentioned above, I cut out or batch as many undesirable tasks as possible. I grocery shop just once a week. I get by with the bare minimum in cleaning. I generally don’t binge watch shows, and I try very hard not to spend mindless time scrolling on social media. I make several day’s worth of lunches in one evening.
— Second, for anything that has to stay on my plate, I try to make it as enjoyable as possible. In the words of Mary Poppins, “in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun!” :) I turn on music while cleaning. I work in the yard side-by-side with John. I listen to podcasts while running errands.
— Third, if there’s just no way to make something “fun,” I do my best to think of it as part of my calling, something that can either be seen as a burden or a privilege — and that choice is mine.
My parents modeled for me that certain duties are just that – duties. There’s no point in railing against the unfairness of taking out the trash, because it’s just a part of life, and you’ll make yourself a lot more miserable if you gnash your teeth every time you have to do it instead of just doing it. (I feel like I’m literally quoting my Dad here, ha!) I do my fair share of griping, let’s be clear, but I’m much happier when I just dispense with the task at hand as quickly as possible.
And aren’t we lucky to have lives and families and chores to attend to? I have a daughter, so I GET to make lunches for her. I have a house, so I GET to clean the bathroom. With that mind shift, some of those undesirable tasks almost turn into a form of fulfilling, satisfying self-care! Almost :)
I’d love to know, what does self-care mean to you? How do you practically carry it out or make time for it? I would love to hear!