What is self-care

Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.

-Audre Lorde

While meditation, bubble baths, and alone time can be self-care, sometimes it’s just plain hiding.

Self-care often takes on the form of discipline or what we need most to progress out of our anxiety and traumas and into wellness and empowerment. Momentary indulgences are wonderful, and I love them very very much, they are so joyful, relaxing, and gentle, but I don’t call them self-care. I call them indulgences.

True self-care requires a decision to value and treat myself in a totally different way, and it is worthwhile to differentiate as they offer different results.

I’ve felt sick to my stomach practicing self-care. I’ve had to communicate incredibly difficult things to important people in my life that wasn’t supportive of my well-being or of others around me. I’ve had to dig in my heels and put up healthy boundaries when it would have been easier not to.
I never feel sick to my stomach during an indulgence, but sometimes afterwards, depending on the indulgence. With self care, it may feel bad during the practice, but it is always followed by longer-term relief.

I ask others for help. For a time I thought this was a sign of weakness, and I eventually realized how much self-esteem, strength, and courage it took to reach out when all I wanted to do is isolate and figure out how to do it all myself (but not really). While taking personal space is incredibly important, it can become an indulgence when reach-outs are called for. We are putting off a solution. Something that will take care of us, relieve us, make us stronger, connect us.

I’ve started some mornings with meditation and breath exercises when that was really the last thing I wanted to do, but it was what I knew would set the right tone for me for the day. I also had to recognize when it was enough and I had to move on to other responsibilities in my life.

It’s wonderful to indulge. Indulge away. But let’s not hijack the meaning of self-care to be synonymous with indulgence. Self care is what we do that gives us what we really need: a fierce love for ourselves and those around us, a voice that advocates on our behalf and on behalf of others that need advocation, and an inner strength that doesn’t allow our highest values to become hijacked by external pressure. Self-care brings us back to Self so that not only can we truly indulge without regret, but we can also truly care for others in the most appropriate way.

The bridge between fear and truth

Have you ever stopped to think why, when you start to get a little ungrounded (though you may not see it yet), someone tells you to breathe? And does that suggestion make you insane?

Our breath is the bridge between our physical body (perceptions, the finite) and our Soul (Truth, the infinite).

We can live out our lives never thinking about the breath, and our body will automatically breathe for us… though we risk having stressors dictate how we breathe– shallow and erratic. Without the full inhale, the life force that is carried through the breath will not reach below the diaphragm to move through and release the stress that is held there, and without the full exhale, we leave the stale air in our lungs leaving little space for fresh air to come in.

We live the way we breathe.

When we experience staleness in our day, and in our lives, changing the breath to make it full and complete can offer the freshness it needs to move forward and up. It can’t hurt to try– it doesn’t cost a dime, and the upside is limitless. It keeps us grounded and connected to something bigger than what we see before us.

FEARbreath is consciousness

Need a pranayam (breathing exercise)? Try this. Let me know how it works for you!

Anecdote to Stress, Fatigue and a long To-Do List

 

Historically, when I felt anxious, overwhelmed, and completely stressed out, I would go into my soft addictions, which, for me, are eating, talking on the phone, and napping. The one thing I can tell you for sure is that I never felt replenished or energized afterwards. My stressors did not go away. In fact, the monsters grew.

What to do? I am stressed from work and need to step away. Yoga and meditation would probably feel great, but I can’t get to a yoga studio at the moment, and I am distracted by the housekeeping duties that my house nags, and I know I ought to move my body to get my energy flowing…

How do I find nourishment when I am feeling low energy and in scarcity mode? Can’t I nap first and figure it out in 15 (actually 60) minutes?

So I tried something new. I started by drinking a tall glass of water. I realized that I was thirsty after all and didn’t even know it. Then I started picking up the stuff, from where I call the “hotspots,” where things tend to accumulate: my workspace, the kitchen counter, the dining room table, and so on. I turned on some of my favorite yoga music, connected to my breath, and put away one thing at a time with no other thought than the task at hand: this book goes here. these go there. I sprayed and wiped my countertops with my preferred Bliss flavor of the day until I got them clean and shiny. Somehow I forget how good the aromatherapy makes me feel. I proceeded to put the dishes away. The shoes. And so on.

The next thing I know, not only did I find parts of my house cleaner and less cluttered, I also found myself cleaner and less cluttered… I moved through my emotional disarray. All at once, I took care of my space, I moved my body, got intimate with my stuff (finding gratitude for what I already had), got my yoga and meditation in by being in the moment. Mindfulness. I like to call it Pure Presence.

I read somewhere, “studies show that mindfulness can be helpful in stopping ruminations over things that cause stress.. it helps people keep from dwelling on negative thoughts. Mindfulness can also be used to decrease anxiety over the future. It can provide a break from stressful thoughts and allow you to take a mental break and gain perspective, among other things (I found this in my notes, but without a source– I apologize).

I found a great quote by Winston Churchill who said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Indulging in soft addiction is sort of like stopping in hell and anesthisizing myself. Feels good for the moment. The problem is, once the numbing is gone, I am still in hell, and it is looking bigger than ever. Homecaring is choosing to keep on walking, and mindfully “cleaning house,” on all levels. It connects you to your space, your abundance, and it also crosses off multiple things on your to-do list, which is an excellent added benefit!