I’ll be honest. As much as I love life and desire to empower and inspire others, I have my days where I just want to hide under the covers. You know - the days where the overwhelming emotion throughout the day is basically “fuck everything.” I was going to write something inspiring this morning. But after yesterday’s horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, I simply don’t have it in me - and I’m not going to pretend I do. Instead, I want to talk about self-care. We all need it. Most of us neglect it at some point or another, to the detriment of our health, happiness, productivity, family and relationships. I’ve been guilty myself of looking at self-care as something selfish and indulgent - as though if I took the time to languish in a hot bath at the end of a discouraging day, I was somehow being a shitty human. As though if I made it a priority to care for myself, I’d never get around to caring for anyone else. How wrong my thinking was! Over the years, I’ve learned - the hard way, in case you were wondering - that if we don’t practice active and ongoing self-care, we will burn out. And when we burn out, we’re no good to anyone else.
I’ve suffered with fairly major bouts of depression throughout my life. I am also an empath, through and through. The combination of those two things leaves me very susceptible to the emotional burdens of the world and the people in it. Through a chaotic and mostly unproductive series of trial and error, I’ve learned that the best way for me to manage these things - to keep on caring about the world without carrying its weight around on my back - is to implement some form of self care every single day.
The great thing about self care is that it doesn’t have to be comprised of grandiose acts of generosity and magnanimity toward oneself. On a busy day, it can be as simple as taking five minutes to sip a cup of hot tea, or wearing a super-soft shirt that feels good against your skin. Even the smallest gestures can symbolize a great deal of “Hey, self, I know things are intense right now, but you’re pretty wonderful and I love you.”
Below are some of my favorite ways to engage in active self-care when the going gets tough.
Take a hot bath or shower
Light a candle
Rub scented lotion on my skin
Wash my face with cool water
Do 15 minutes of gentle yoga
Lie flat on the floor and just breathe, paying attention to the rise and fall of my lungs
Hold a smooth stone in my palm
Doodle with vibrant markers
Write lists of beautiful-sounding words
Wear fluffy socks
Meditate, even just for a couple minutes
Walk around outside and pay attention to the sounds and smells of nature
Put a soft scarf around my neck
Take five deep breaths in a row
Spend a couple minutes visualizing something about the future that excites me
Cuddle with my pets
Unfortunately, the world is always going to be volatile, and individually, we’re always going to have our ups and downs. Do yourself a favor and invest just a few moments a day into loving and caring for yourself - it will make it much easier to hang on during this roller coaster ride we call life.