The Simplest Form of Radical Self-Care

The term Radical Self-Care has been rattling around in my brain for a couple of weeks. I listened to a TED talk given by Anne Lamont called 12 truths I learned from life and writing and since then I can’t get the words out of my head. Even though I often think about how to incorporate self-care into my life, attaching the word radical has taken on new meaning.

Self-care is one of those buzz words that gets thrown around a lot. We receive so many messages every day including: eat better, sleep better, daily exercise, and learn to meditate. The amount of information can be overwhelming but there is a simple way to radical self-care.

Consider the following:

When we take a flight, one of the first of the safety instructions is that if the oxygen masks come down, be sure to put your own on first before helping any others, including your own children.

The reason to put your own mask on first is that if you wait and help everyone else, you may not survive.
I think this is the very definition of radical self-care: You must take care of yourself first or you won’t survive.

Not surviving comes in many forms. Exhaustion, depression and anxiety, medicating either through established avenues such as your doctor or through self-medicating, and whole host of other things that numb us to our true feelings.

Who loses when you don’t take care of yourself?

Just like in the airplane example: you, your children, anyone around you that could have been helped if only you would have taken the time to make sure you were okay first.

Your health and sanity are just a couple of things that you jeopardize by not taking care of yourself.

And, why don’t we take better care of ourselves?

I’m quite certain there are many reasons but the ones that resonate with me are the following:

Societal expectations – this is the one that simply says that everyone else must come first.

Guilt – because we’ve learned that everyone else comes first we feel guilty for even wanting to take care of ourselves and that is a powerful deterrent.

Time – though is an excuse, life gets busy and because you’ve put yourself last, you’ve become convinced that there is no time to take care of yourself.

Expectations – as a perfectionist, I struggle with doing everything the “right” way.

Hint: there is no right way.

What can we do?

Here comes the simplest way to radical self-care. Are you ready for it?

The simplest and, yet, most radical form of self-care is to say NO.

Saying yes to everything that presents itself to you saying no to you. I often tell friends and clients that no is a complete sentence. No explanations necessary. By saying yes to taking care of yourself and no to others, you are one step closer to that life you want.

Really!?!?

I said it was simple, I didn’t say it was easy. Saying no is one of the most difficult things to do but one of the most empowering.

I dare you to try it. Especially with those requests that you’ve said yes to and immediately wished you could have said no.

I dare you to take care of yourself first and see how much better you are for your family, friends, work and life.

I dare you!

Headaches and Soul Work

water-lily-1413450_1920I have a headache.

Not just a simple one either.

I’m talking a full-blown, my head is going to explode, headache.

The curious thing is I don’t get migraines, not really. Normally, I get tension-type headaches. As a general rule, I don’t have that sensitivity to light or nausea that often accompanies migraines. I do, often, have a sensitivity to sound.

However, that doesn’t mean I can function with this pulsing pressure that builds inside of my head either. Sleep is often the only cure outside of a cocktail of medications my doctor has given me.

I have been blessed in that these headaches only come on strong in times of high stress. I know my triggers thought I don’t always know how to make them go away.

I’ve had them a lot in the past year, and they have stopped me in my tracks.

I’ve struggled to move forward with my goals and dreams. In truth, I’ve struggled to write whenever I am hit with a headache.

How have I gotten through this? Good question.

Most often, I’ve just waited until a headache subsides or I sleep it off.

On days that I am unable to do this, I go slow. Slowly, I write my words. I move slowly and find the silence in my life.

In truth, I refill my soul.

Because, I’ve let ME slide and let everything else take over. I know it is my job to fill myself up. It is my job to take care of ME.

Sometimes I forget, and life overwhelms me. And, then I have headaches.

Headaches are the symptom that makes me take notice because they stop me where I stand. And, they are so not fun.

How do I refill my soul, so this doesn’t happen:

1. By examining my life as it stands currently, deciding if something needs to change, be let go of or simply ignored.

2. By finding ways to rest. The soul cannot recharge without rest and quiet.

3. By taking care of myself, whether this means a trip to the doctor, taking a nap, or chocolate, if I don’t take care of myself, I have nothing left for anything else. Besides I know what I need, even if that need is a snuggle with a grand baby or hubby.

4. By creating practices that take care of me. Whether that is meditation, exercise, deep breathing, yoga, or simply being, each of these has something to offer in taking care of me. By making them a practice, each activity becomes integrated into my life.

5. By finding beauty in the smallest of things. Stepping off my porch at night to see the star filled sky makes me stop in wonder. Catching a flower’s bloom or eating a ripe tomato fresh off the fine are some of the most beautiful things I’ve seen or done. At the top of the list includes watching my grandbabies sleep, snuggling with my cat and seeing a rainbow are among the others.

Taking care of me first is a struggle. I forget that sometimes and pay for it. Apparently, I have to learn the hard way.

Don’t be like me. Take care of you.

Lazy Sundays

dandelion-698673_1280Sometimes I think Sundays are my favorite day of the week, at least until about 6:00 pm. It is then I remember that I have to work in the morning. Up until then, here are some of my favorite things about Sunday.

First of all, it’s the last day to sleep in before the normal work week begins. If you are like me and 7:30 am is sleeping in then so be it. When my normal wake up time is 5:00 then, I am sleeping in.

Unless there are plans, it’s a stay at home day for me and I try hard to not have plans. These days that means unlimited writing time. The question I often ask myself is do I really want to write or just be lazy.

Sunday is often the day I use for gearing up for the week. Organization and clean up are usually on my list of things to do … if I get to them. For the most part, I do the minimum of what must be done.

IMG_0136Probably my favorite part of Sundays is the ability to hang out a load of laundry to dry in the open air. Tonight I get to sleep on clean, sun-kissed sheets. I miss this in the middle of winter.

Though I head back to work tomorrow, I am glad I enjoyed this day. I hope you did too.

Gas or Lack Thereof

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I’ve run out of gas. Previously, I’ve spoken of blogging not being for wimps in this post. Turns out I was more right than I thought. It takes a lot of energy to post six times each week.

It also takes energy to keep going. Getting up each morning to write takes energy. Working at non-writing tasks takes energy. Housework and relationships all take energy. If a person isn’t careful, running on empty is a large possibility.

There are few things I am willing to give up so I need to work at keeping my tank full. When I speak to my clients about this I am talking about self-care. You know, taking care of yourself. Doing things just for yourself which women are loath to do. Sometimes men too.

When I talk about self care, it is more than just basic care. It is taking time to watch ‘Buffy’ reruns and taking a 20 minute bath – all alone in the bathroom, going shopping and only buying for yourself. Its getting a mani-pedi with good friends or taking in a movie, just because. Its spending alone time with your favorite book. Anything to feed yourself.

I’m usually pretty good at taking care of myself. I try not to overload any one part of my life. Even then, I’m tired. It just happens.

Its time to take care of me in any way that feels good to me. I think, for now, that is getting some sleep.

What do you do to take care of yourself and recharge?