The topic of self-care is very interesting to me. It is very personal and at the same time it is so universal.
Recently I read this quote:
the day you stop racing, is the day you win the race .
I felt quite guilty at the start of the intelligent lockdown that the Dutch government has imposed. And I felt guilty because I. Am. Loving. This. Slowing. Down. Of. Society.
There - I have said it.
By contrast - I feel there are many people out there who feel the exact opposite. People who feel worried, confused, anxious about not having their days filled up to the last second with all kinds of activities (I acknowledge here the worry and anxiety about being economically impacted or being stuck in a volatile domestic situation).
Being busy and being productive have long been in our Western society almost status symbols. And now we are forced into living a smaller life at a much less frantic pace (of course this doesn't apply to anyone who works in healthcare, funeral homes, supermarkets etc).
And yet this smaller life can be so much bigger than the pre-Corona life. Because we now have time for connection, real connection and introspection. And I think to stop racing is so worth it because winning the race to truly embrace yourself and be kind and compassionate to yourself is truly worth it (@kelli writes interesting posts and blogs about this topic).
So self-care - what does that mean? How do you do it? What is the manual?
All super good questions that I can only answer from my own perspective.
For me self-care in the basis it is a little about self-discipline. Boooooooring - I know 😁.
I religiously start my day with a short medidation, typically about 10 minutes. And man, does that take discipline on the days I really can't be that bothered. Still I have found that if I don't spend those 10 minutes, I always end up regretting not taking that time.
I love exercising so my self-care involves sports. Currently I am on my 8th brain injury and this is the one which turned out to be life changing which means going to the gym hasn't been possible for many years. In stead I exercise at home with Fitnessblender (and now everyone else has joined me in my vibe) and exercising at home also involves self-discipline because it is up to me to actually show up for a class and not only to show up but also to give it my all.
The 2 examples above are nothing special. Yet - if I wouldn't do those, I would feel so much worse, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Self-care is also about trying to your own best friend, with all your positives and not so positives, to accept yourself as you are. Accepting yourself as you are is easier said than done, I have found. There is so much pressure to adhere to some kind of ideal. Everyone has an opinion how to live life and how to live it best. All those opinions, however well-intended they are, can cause confusion, doubt, lack of self-confidence. Precisely all the things you don't need in a good self-care routine!
I feel that my world is a mirror of the things I feel, of the things I fear, of the things I wish for, of the things I think. I put energy in the things I wish for, for example my daily meditation routine, and I try and avoid the things I fear. Although sometimes you have to feel the fear and do it anyway (like for example writing this peace - I am finding this scary).
These current times are a strong reminder that the only thing you have influence over are yourself and your thoughts. I think these times are a great opportunity to reconnect with yourself as your own best friend, to reconnect with yourself as a partner/sibling/parent/housemate/colleague/citizen. To reconnect with what motivates you, with what drives you, with what you fear. And you know what? That can be tough and that can be scary because you may have to face some tough insights. Normally we all have such busy lives that we don't have to time to stop and think and we can hide, very comfortably, behind our busy calendars.
To refer back to the quote I started with: it is very interesting to find out who you are without any of the external stimuli that we normally have. Self-care isn't about having the fullest diary, it is about having a diary that is filled with things that inspire you, move you, drive you.
I also admitted at the start that I am enjoying this slow pace of life. It was quite a revelation for me and even more so the first time I said it out loud. That was 100% pure self care. And to not forget - I made a mindmap that outlined for me what makes me tick. And I have resolved to only commit energy to people and projects that fall within that context.
I would like to invite you to create your own mindmap - let your mind take you places and you might end up seeing a whole new scenery.
I started with a quote and I would like to finish with a quote by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe:
as soon as you learn to trust yourself, you will know how to live.
Because when you trust yourself, you are your own best friend. And who doesn't like to spend time with their best friend?
Take good care of yourselves,