Or 34 Things I Can Do Instead Of Sit In An Unshowered Heap On My Bedroom Floor Crying Into Pictures Of Old Boyfriends & Using My T-Shirt As A Tissue
The popular hashtag. The wellness buzzword. The trending topic among millennials.
The hardest personal agreement to keep.
I am not hardwired to nurture myself before tackling the to-do list. It takes effort. I can stay for busy for days, leaving loved ones neglected, letting the cheese grow mold in the fridge, allowing the laundry to spill out of the hamper and onto the unvacuumed floor. This is where I’ll find self-care – surrounded by piles of dirty socks with twenty-five unread text messages and a wedge of rotten cheddar. This is typically where I stop looking at everything still left to do and start paying attention to what I need in order to feel human again.
You see, self-care doesn’t give a shit about my to-do list.
It’s different for everyone, this business of self-care. For some of my friends it means taking their kids to the park, for others it means getting a pedicure. I have one friend with three small children who swears that self-care means just being able to pee alone.
I don’t know what self-care looks like for you, but I do know that the result is the same for everyone – to feel nurtured, to feel whole, to feel human. I know that when I don’t create space in my day for some self-care, I suffer. I become less grounded and aware, I feel more irritable and disgustingly sorry for myself. I need to move my body and be on the water. I need to stretch and breathe and get the fuck off social media every now and then. I need to exhale and let all of my stress dissolve in a hot bath. I need to eat tacos with my girlfriends. I need to take care of myself in order to do this whole life thing.
When I push aside self-care in an attempt to tick more off of my to-do list, I am working backwards. Eventually, there will be burnout. Listen, I speak from experience. I speak from the other side of burnout. It may look like crying in the produce section of the grocery store, throwing that blue and white pitcher against the wall, losing your shit all over the guy who cut in front of you during rush hour. It may manifest as an illness. Either way, it will come. Then, we are useless not only to our work, our friends, and our family—but to ourselves.
I turned 34 recently. It wasn’t pretty. I have so many fears around this number (hello risky pregnancy, tiny retirement funds, aging parents, where I think I should be by now). I finally remembered the whole self-care thing while I sat in an unshowered heap on my bedroom floor crying into pictures of old boyfriends and using my t-shirt as a tissue. For real, people.
That’s when I compiled a list. A different kind of list. I wrote down 34 things I could do instead of that. Or, more simply put, 34 Acts of Self-Care. This way I always have them on hand when I find myself all alone at the self-pity party or stressed out at work or filled to the brim with fear. And because I know you are wonderfully human like me, I decided to post them all below so that you will have them too … So, make the time. Your self-care doesn’t give a shit about your to-do list.
34 Acts of Self-Care
- Take a digital detox. You know, unplug and get present.
- Change the dialogue ~ Tell my inner-hater to pipe the eff down, give up the shoulds, and make friends with my fear so I can show it who’s really the boss around here.
- Don’t be an asshole – Jennifer Pastiloff, thanks for this one.
- Read a book that inspires me. Here are a few of my favorites: Cheryl Strayed’s Tiny Beautiful Things, Gabby Bernstein’s Miracles Now, any book by Brene Brown.
- Call someone who will always remind me that I am enough. (Thanks, Mom).
- Call someone and remind them that they are enough.
- Remind myself that I am enough. All of the time.
- Travel, Travel, Travel.
- Get connected with my squad. Grab some coffee or tacos with my totally-spiritually-centered-really-good-listeners-always-call-me-on-my-bullshit-because-they-love-me-so-damn-much-and-totally-get-me squad of awesome humans to talk about the things we are in the midst of learning, the stuff in our hearts, on our minds, and dreams just viewable on the horizon.
- Cook a beautiful meal. For myself.
- Tune in to my body and give it what it needs.
- Light a little Palo Santo and listen to a guided meditation.
- Melt into an epsom salt bath with a little essential oil surrounded by candles.
- Lose several hours in a good bookstore.
- Enjoy a slow morning in my favorite pajamas with some good coffee.
- Decorate a delicious smoothie bowl.
- Spend time with people who really see me.
- Snuggle on the sofa with a good scary movie and buttery popcorn.
- Put my toes in the ocean. Sometimes, this requires #6. It’s worth it.
- Get 8 gloriously undisturbed hours of deep sleep in a comfortable bed. Sleep, I believe, is a spiritual experience.
- Nourish my body with green juice.
- Accept help from people who love me.
- Kiss … Yes, passionate kissing counts as self-care. So does hand-holding and cuddling.
- Watch the sunset.
- Just watch the sunset. Don’t Instagram it.
- Get out in nature.
- Do anything creative.
- Get in a solid sweat sesh – spin class, yoga, a long run, whatever feels good. Hear that? Whatever feels good. Self-care means working out because I love my body, it does not mean climbing on that treadmill out of punishment or deprivation.
- Take my fine ass self on a hot date – go to the movies, the farmer’s market, a museum, a picnic, a fancy dinner alone.
- Practice gratitude. Like, more than just saying thank you. Feel grateful. In my bones, in my soul, in my heart. Then, pay that awesome shit forward.
- Declutter. Clean my car, my room, my fridge, my calendar, my contacts list. Say no thank you to things I hate and people who are energy vampires, naysayers, unkind.
- Honor the woman I am today. Not the one I think I should be (See #2), but the one I worked hard to become because she deserves my friendship and love and time.