Self-care is one of the most important aspects of healing, yet so many survivors absolutely refuse to take time for themselves. One of the things I hear most frequently as I meet and converse with survivors is, "I don't have time to take care of myself!" But you know what? You do!
Self-care doesn't always have to be some big, involved production. It's nice to take myself out on a date, or lock myself in the bathroom for a really long bubble bath with candles and soft music, or to go for a scenic drive and grab some coffee at a shop a couple of towns away, but I don't always have the time or the resources to do these things. I think we all deserve a big production every now and then, but I also think it would do us a lot of good to give up this Superwoman (or Superman) all-or-nothing mentality where we think there is a "right" and "wrong" way to do nice things for ourselves. Self-care can be as simple as a 30-second deep breath!
Here are my top ten "quickie" self-care practices:
10. I stretch. I try to touch the ceiling. I touch the floor. Sometimes I lay down in the floor and stretch. Sometimes I do a couple of yoga poses. I do whatever feels good at the moment. It's refreshing!
9. I turn on an upbeat song and I dance. I only do this with my kids or when I'm alone. I'm not the greatest dancer in the world, but I enjoy movement and I usually feel great after a little boogie time with C&C Music Factory or Deee-Lite.
8. I go online and look at pictures or find something quick to read. I love looking at great art. I love to read a good piece of writing. Both are available online. When I can't get to the library or the museum... Internet!
7. I rest for a bit. 10-15 minutes in my room, timer set, door closed, eyes closed. Whether or not I sleep is irrelevant. I am still. It is enough to just be still and breathe.
6. I set a timer and clean for 15 minutes. For some people, this is like torture. Not for me. I love living in a clean house. When my surroundings are cluttered, so is my brain. Getting rid of a mess helps me feel better sometimes.
5. I write. Journaling, to me, is like medicine. Sometimes just jotting down one sentence and getting it out there is better for my spirit than an entire session of talk therapy.
4. I sing a song. I sing very loudly and I don't care what it sounds like. It's something I enjoy and it often lifts my mood almost instantly. Sometimes it's a sad song, but most times it's happy. Lately, it's been this song called "Move" by MercyMe that I've sort of adopted as my theme song:
3. I doodle. A few minutes with a pen or a pencil or a marker or a crayon in hand is like cheap therapy for me. The example I've posted in the picture up at the top of this post is a recent doodle I dug up to show you what I mean when I say "doodle". Drawing these patterns and shapes helps me zone out for a while yet process things at the same time. It's like a subconscious recharging ritual I've developed over the years.
2. I take a five minute walk. Just five minutes outside in the fresh air. Sometimes it's a quick walk, sometimes it's a lazy trip around the yard, just taking in our surroundings. This almost always leaves me feeling de-stressed and re-charged.
1. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. Taking in as much air as my lungs will allow, I inhale through my nose and hold the breath as long as I can. When I release the breath, I do it slowly through my mouth... as though I'm exhaling through a straw. This is THE number one way I center myself and it is the quickest and easiest self-care practice I have ever learned.
I'd like to challenge you to come up with your own list of ten things you might enjoy doing that would qualify as self-care. Choose just ONE thing on that list every day for the next week and DO IT! It could be something as simple as going outside and watering flowers. Paint your nails. Hold your teddy bear for ten minutes. Draw a picture. Make yourself a cup of hot tea. Just do something for yourself. If it makes you happy and you choose to take the time to do it - it counts as self-care!
Until next time, may you be blessed - and inspired to pass it on!