What is self care, anyway?

Hi everybody! Good morning from Miami where we're having a cozy, rainy morning. I've been thinking this week about the concept of self care. It's kind of an overused term, but still an important one. One that I didn't understand for a long time. I remember seeing articles about self care in the early days of motherhood, when I was chasing babies and toddlers around the house, trying to be everything to everyone. Each article would explain that you have to "put your own mask on first," and proceed to explain why it's important to pamper ourselves with things like chocolate, bubble baths, and pedicures. At first, I nodded my head and thought, "Yes, that is important!" When I made time for those things, however, I didn't feel any magical shifts. They were nice, and I enjoyed them, but that was it. I didn't feel that they helped me manage the everyday chaos. A few years in, I would start to roll my eyes whenever the topic of self care came up. 

About a year ago, I suddenly realized that I had never understood self care before. It wasn't just all about getting massages and eating dessert. It was, instead, doing things many of us don't feel like doing at all. It is things like exercising and meditating regularly, flossing our teeth EVERY night (even when we are exhausted), going to sleep early, taking the time to prepare nutritious foods (even when takeout is just so much easier), and tidying up the house when we'd really rather sit down and read "for a minute." Self care actually means having the discipline to do the things that are good for us, even when we're not in the mood to do them. These are the things we never regret doing. Before doing yoga, I often think "I don't feel like doing this today," or "I don't really have time for this today." But when I have the discipline to practice yoga, I always enjoy it, and I am always glad that I did it. When I finally figured this out, I realized that self care includes things I was already doing, thankfully. I could pat myself on the back for investing in that treadmill when our first child was two, not because I was looking to get a modeling contract, but because I needed that activity to feel like myself. I realized that many of us sabotage ourselves when we drag our feet on making our appointments for things like dental cleanings, therapy visits, and regular checkups. It's so much easier just to forget about those things and plow ahead with the seemingly more pressing tasks of our daily lives. 

As I've pondered the idea of self care this year, I've realized that it also involves having a creative outlet and a space that nurtures us. Sitting down to paint fills my soul. Some of my friends find that same peace through writing, organizing, or creating music. We use music in our home to set the tone for the day or the moment. Everyone's tired in the morning? Time for dance music! People seem grumpy? That's when we listen to some reggae. Our home is filled with self care items, such as comfortable furniture and art that inspires us and reminds of places we've been and people we've known. I wanted our home to feel like the beach: spacious, joyful, and relaxed. We achieve that by minimizing clutter, incorporating calming colors inspired by tropical beaches (lots of light grays, blues, and whites), and choosing artwork that reminds us all of the time we've spent in nature around the world. 

Of course, it's a journey and I still don't get self care right all the time, but I continue to make small, imperfect steps in that direction. I'm just glad that I finally know where I'm going. And what about all of those articles that talk about treats and indulgences? Well, those can be part of self care, too. Sprinkling those into the mix can bring it all together, but they're not going to give us a long lasting sense of peace on their own. I was talking a bit about this concept on a live video this week, and you can see it on Instagram and Facebook

I'd love to hear from you and learn from you. What are your favorite forms of self care? What are the things that you avoid even though you know they're good for you? The comments section is open for your thoughts and ideas.