Your Life in Progress: Self Care

20160208_025008000_iOSThis is the first guest post in a series called “Your Life in Progress.” In this series we will hear from other women like you and I – women who are learning to love and care for themselves well. They are taking risks, making mistakes, trying new things and letting others go, sometimes struggling, but ultimately living beautiful, gentle lives.

I’ve spent the past week delighted and honored that Krista asked me to write a guest post about self care on her wonderful blog. I’ve also spent the week wondering what to write! Self care is talked about so much, especially among women online, that I wondered, what angle should I take? I’ve written quite a bit about this topic—so what can I say that’s new? Does it have to be new? Those kinds of questions have been popping around in my head and honestly, I haven’t come up with anything earth-shattering.

But is self care supposed to be earth-shattering? Does a post about it have to be something entirely new and original? I’ve come to realize that no, it doesn’t.

Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned about caring for one’s self is that it can be routine, comfortable, and small.

What would it mean for you to think of self care as small acts of kindness for yourself? So often we say, “I don’t have time or money for it” or “I don’t even know what it means, much less do I practice it.” But is that the truth? Do you brush your teeth? Do you bathe and get dressed? (If so, you’re practicing some forms of self care. If not, start right there, right now!)

What if we were to think of self care as something we already do, and just shift our focus to make it more intentional? Here’s a simple thing I started doing that has worked wonders for me: taking a nightly shower and letting myself linger in the warm water. Taking showers is something we all do, right? But it was when I intentionally shifted my shower-taking from something I hurriedly do to get clean before getting dressed, to something I do to take good care of myself; massage out the tension in my neck under the hot water; and help myself to feel all warm, cozy, and clean before bed, that my showering suddenly felt elevated to a whole new level. It became a pleasure, a treat, and I looked forward to it every night.

After my evening shower, I use my favorite lotion and remind myself to move slowly and kindly as I rub it in. This seems really simple, almost silly to write about, but this kind of intentional action turns a boring routine into an act of kindness.

What routine do you have that you’re rushing through? Is there a way to slow it down so that it can become a more loving action for yourself? Even more importantly, what do you need to do to take really good care of yourself right now?

Here’s another idea along those lines: I’ve recently set my phone alarm to chime every two hours throughout the day, from 8 to 4 on weekdays. I got this idea from Jen Louden, an author who writes a lot about self care in her Woman’s Comfort Book and Comfort Secrets for Women. I picked an alarm tone that is very zen-like, and every two hours it goes off and I am reminded to take a deep breath and check in with myself. What do I need right now? A drink of water? A few minutes with my eyes closed? To get off Facebook and do something else? Or maybe to take a work break and get on Facebook? Sometimes I’m right where I need to be when my alarm goes off, and the chime then makes me smile and say yep, I’m on track.

This is another simple act of caring, awareness, and mindfulness that I’ve managed to sneak into my everyday life. I’ve found that I don’t have to go away for a spa weekend or retreat, or buy a new product, or join a gym, or start a diet, or do something all that different as a means of self care. All of those things can be good, but the truth is I can practice small acts of kindness right here, right now, through simply thinking about it and bringing some intention to what I do. And those small acts make all the difference in how my days go.

Krista asked me a great question as we were preparing for this guest post: Have you wrestled with perfectionism, anxiety, or self-esteem issues? And my answer is yes, all of the above. I have made tremendous strides in all of those areas by intentionally working on them, seeing a homeopath who also functions as my therapist and spiritual guide, moving my body and eating as well as I know how, and taking time for myself in big and small ways. I would never discount the big actions and say we shouldn’t do them if we can and if they’re helpful. But I think that for those of us who are perfectionist/anxious types, finding small and easy ways to practice self care is especially important.

We perfectionists tend to think things have to be a “big deal” and “really good” to be worth it. We practice “all or nothing” thinking. If I can’t do it all and do it well, it’s not worth doing so I’ll do nothing. Do you ever think that way?

But in actuality, with self care, it’s in the slowing down and simply checking in with myself that I often find just what I need.

Thank you, Lisa, for this guest post!

 

Lisa Zahn is a wife and a mom of two teens, and a homemaker who also works as a writer, copyeditor, and life coach. You can find her writing about self care and other topics at www.lisazahn.com.

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14 comments on “Your Life in Progress: Self Care

  1. Thank you so much for posting my writing, Krista! I’m so happy to be here at Life in Progress, and to be part of this series. You are doing such important work!

    • Love what you shared, Lisa. I am someone who just wilts under pressure to do all things, consistently, with excellence or all ‘pinterest-worthy’… just makes me want to give up. And yet I also want to continue learning, growing, fully BECOMING who I am meant to be/want to be. It has been so comforting and healing for me to learn that I can plod forward in small, simple ways and yet, ultimately, bring about amazing transformation over time.

  2. Lovely article! I specially relate to: if I think I can’t do it all or do it exceptionally well, I don’t do it at all. That makes me feel I’m not living up to my potential, which is pretty hard for a perfectionist to deal with… I have noticed that doing the small stuff, just today, makes a difference. I bet slowing down, checking in and setting a loving and kind intention will help me even more.

    • I love that you could relate to this, Caroline, even if it’s just for solidarity! 🙂 We perfectionists can learn to do the small things and treat ourselves better, I know it! And I’m happy that you’re thinking of slowing down, checking in, and setting a loving and kind intention. I hope it works well for you!

    • As another recovering perfectionist, I hear you. The past few years (3-5 ish maybe) I have really challenged myself to embrace imperfection, put things out into the world that are ‘good enough’, and to see and acknowledge the beauty in imperfection (in myself and in the world). It has been stretching but, oh so good for me.

  3. Such a beautifully simple yet profound post. Thank you. I’m wondering, though, how does one find a homeopath such as you describe – one who can help with physical, emotional, even spiritual matters? I imagine the easy answer is “Ask around.” However, I’m a bit of an anomaly amongst my friends. None of them have an interest in these sorts of things. So I often find myself seeking out blogs or articles such as this for guidance. I would LOVE to find another face-to-face human to talk with, but I don’t have a clue how to find one. Any suggestions?

    • Hi Brooke, I have often felt an anomaly both in my family and my community – until, after years of searching, I found my tribe:) I have asked Lisa to come respond to your question and I do not have an easy answer except to keep in mind that starting somewhere is better than not starting. So, for instance, you could seek support from a Holistic Nutritionist & Wellness Advocate (such as myself), a Life Coach (like Lisa), or perhaps start by joining online support groups or forums to help you find a more like-minded tribe of people and trust that answers will come as you move forward. Thank you for reading and commenting here and I hope you find what you need.

    • Hi Brooke,

      Thanks for your comment and question. I can’t give you an exact way to find the right helpers for you, but I can tell you how I’ve found mine. I mainly use my intuition! When I meet someone, or hear of someone, and they or their work really speaks to me in some way, I find a way to find out more. Then if it seems like a good fit, I end up working with them. Since I decided to take better care of myself and reach out for help (which was in about 2000, when my kids were young), I have seen and studied with several people. I started with an herbalist I happened to take a weekend class from. I also saw a holistic nutritionist (not Krista, who I would highly recommend, but someone local to me) for a while. Then I found a really awesome chiropractor whom my kids loved and the whole family saw for a time (my kids still do). Then I found my homeopath, who is also a coach and spiritual director. He’s ended up being “the whole package” for me, and my husband and I both see him monthly for a coaching/therapy-type relationship as well as homeopathy. I didn’t know this before, but many Classical Homeopaths are therapists in a way. Homeopathy works on the emotional and spiritual as well as physical.

      In each case, I’ve gotten so much out of the caring I get/got, but I truly think the most important thing was deciding I was worth reaching out for help and paying someone to help me. AND, then finding people who resonated with me. Now that we have the internet, you can search online. Read websites, take advantage of free sessions or classes/workshops, and see who seems like a good “fit” for you. Then you’ll find the money to pay for that person’s services, I have no doubt. (By the way, I see my homeopath via Skype and he sees people from all over the world that way. He is in my home state, but it’s not necessary these days.)

      Since you’re here on Krista’s blog, I would recommend starting with her! And if what she has to say resonates with you, then perhaps she’s your helper?

      Best wishes to you. I KNOW there’s help for you.

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