Self care is something that I’ve never been terribly good at. When I was a single parent of 5 children it seemed to be something that I never could take the time for. There weren’t enough hours in the day to take care of everyone else and myself too. And once out of any habit, it’s awfully hard to get yourself back into it.
In 2016, after my breakdown, it became apparent that the only way I was going to get well was if I started to look after myself. Not only physically. Not only mentally. But holistically, in every way possible.
The thing about self care is that it must be made up of things that you enjoy doing or that you enjoy the results of. I don’t really enjoy doing my nails, for example, but I love the way they look when they’re done. If I use colour I really enjoy and luscious hand cream then the process is made more enjoyable.
Other self care practices that I enjoy:
-sweating: By this I mean using a sauna or taking a hot restorative yoga class. Deep sweating may help remove waste products from the body. I like either a traditional sauna or infrared sauna. The infrared sauna does work differently in that it heats the body rather than the air. These saunas also boost circulation which increases the removal of toxins through the liver. Drink lots of water after!
-detox bath: I like taking a detox bath once a week, for at least 30 minutes. I run a nice warm bath and add 2 cups of Epsom salts and some essential oil to the water. I find lavender especially nice. It’s best if you can climb into bed and go to sleep right after.
-massage: I have pretty severe osteoarthritis of the spine and fibromyalgia. Adding massage to my self care toolbox helps with the pain associated with both of these conditions immensely. Massage therapy helps to increase detoxification and stimulates the lymphatic system as well. The manipulation of soft tissue increases circulation thus enhancing relaxation and pain relief. If you can’t get to a massage therapist once a month there are massage schools where you can get a great massage for a good price or enlist the aid of a partner or friend.
-meditation: When I take the time to meditate my day always goes better. Things run more smoothly and I’m more in tune with the world around me. Even five minutes a day is enough. It needn’t take long. There have been times when I’ve even locked myself in the bathroom to get the time alone to meditate for four or five minutes! You can use an app for guided meditation or set a timer or just count your inhales and exhales. Whatever works best for you. I tend to just set a timer and very occasionally use an app on my iPhone.
-pedicure: Our feet take a savage beating. Day in, day out we heap abuse upon them and rarely do we think about them unless they start to hurt. A once a month full on pedicure is what’s called for. From a peppermint foot scrub and soak to a foot massage and a great coat of colour, nothing makes a girl feel better than a pedicure.
-writing: Writing in my planner, journal, gratitude list, on this blog, brain dumping….any and all forms of writing are important to me. Using words to express myself (whether for anyone else to read or not) is important to me. It keeps me in touch with my feelings, keeps me organized and helps me make sense of the world and my life.
-extra skin care: Sometimes it’s a face mask or using my clarisonic. Other times it’s oil cleansing, exfoliation and face massage. A couple of times a week I do something fantastic for my skin. It feels like I’m pampering myself and gives my skin a nice glow. It’s the same with my body. Whether it’s dry skin brushing, a brown sugar body scrub or coconut oil to moisturize I try to do something extra when I can. At least a couple of times a week.
-creative Tuesdays: Or Thursdays or any day really. As long as it’s once every week or two. A day when I take out my sketchpad and paints, pencils and pens. An afternoon to create. In whatever way I please. It’s a way to give myself permission to play creatively. Sometimes I’m working on a project for a gift, other times I’m just messing about. But it’s always important.
-reading: Is reading really an act of self care? It is for me! It’s a way of transporting myself into another time, another place, another life. I’ve always have a non-fiction title going but that’s not what I reach for at bedtime. Bedtime means a fiction title and I try to read a couple of chapters each evening. Occasionally (especially with a biography) my non-fiction will spill over into my bedtime reading but not usually. My bedtime book at the moment is “The Preacher” by Camilla Lackberg, a Swedish crime writer. Which means I’m often reading more than a chapter or two and staying up later than I should.
What’s in your self-care toolbox?