Amanda Smyth, LCSW
Updated: Dec 4, 2020
We often think of indulgence when we hear the term self care. Things like vacations, purchasing stuff for yourself, days off, or massages come to mind. However, many don't have time or the means for such things and the affects are short lived. At this point in the game, stress is at an all time high for many, perhaps due to the return of busy schedules, trying to juggle this new reality of kids learning virtually, working from home, fear of illness, loss of loved ones due to covid, election results and so much more. Self care has always been essential, now it may be about survival. We do our best when we feel our best, we are more patient, less reactive and work more efficiently. Giving of yourself when you have little energy and feeling overwhelmed just piles on that stress. So what's the trick, how they heck are we suppose to do all this?!
First, we need to rethink what self care really is. A regular practice of self care is not indulgent at all. It's giving yourself permission to stop, rest, sit down and have a cup of tea. It's setting boundaries. It's stepping outside and observing nature. It's allowing yourself to say 'no' to invites and requests that create an over scheduled household. It's putting down your phone and staying off of social media. It's most basic foundation is identifying what you are feeling and meeting your own needs instead of pushing them aside and ignoring what your body is telling you.
I have one simple daily practice I use to check in with how I am feeling. I use an app on my phone called the mindfulness bell, I set it to ring it's pleasant tone during my workday every 15 minutes. I take seconds to pause and turn my focus inward to check how my body is feeling. Often I find my teeth are clenched and my shoulders are tense. I take those few second to breathe deeply, focus on the sound of the bell and relax the areas of my body that feel tense. I then continue with my task. If someone is with me at the time the bell goes off, I share what the bell is for and invite them join me. Repeat visitor very quickly join me in the practice and I find they look forward to it. This is a simple practice of self care and makes a big impact on the stress and tension I carry with me during the day.
I also follow instagram accounts that are good reminders to check in and pay attention to what I am feeling. My new favorite is @mellow.doodles. Check a few of creator Melissa Webb's posts below. Brilliant, simple and true!
So let yourself know you are valued and as important as those around you. Pay attention to your own needs and allow yourself to meet them. Turn your awareness inward, breathe deeply and take care of your self...