Self-care: a list

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Self-care: it’s a thing. Admittedly it’s not a thing that I am very good at, but recently I have been working on this as it became very evident I was falling short in this area. For many, many years I have been either trying to get pregnant, suffering through miscarriages, nourishing pregnancies, carrying babies, delivering babies, breastfeeding babies, dealing with postpartum changes, tending to babies, raising small children and every teeny, tiny thing that goes along with this season of life. It is the best. It is my favorite. It is everything that I have ever longed for. 

However, caring for my body, my mind, my soul, my heart has not been my focus. My body was hard at work creating human life, my mind was steadfast ensuring all of our families’ needs were met, and my heart and soul….  well they filled to the brim, overflowing with love and fear and an unimaginable amount of happiness. I have been in it. Do you know what I mean? So deep in it, doing exactly all of the things I was meant to be doing. But right now, I feel like I’m taking a breath. Stepping outside for just a minute of air and observing all of my misgivings. I need me too. And I want to be my best self, for both myself and my family. So even when it seems unnecessary, I realize that taking care of myself is important. I don’t need a day away at the spa to be my best self (though it certainly wouldn’t hurt), but I can find 15 minutes to curl up on the sofa with a new book and hit my mental reset button. So I made a list, a working list, of small things that I am making a priority in my life. Things that bring me joy and tend to my needs, physically and spiritually. Things like making the time to schedule a haircut for myself, binging a netflix show instead of folding the laundry, seeking a therapist to ease my anxiety, listening to a good podcast. There is nothing ground breaking here; nothing earth shattering. But maybe, just maybe, you will read my list and recognize that you need to make time for yourself too. So I’m starting now. I’m brewing myself an entire pot of my current favorite blend from Cameron's Coffee, Toasted Southern Pecan, and I won’t feel one bit guilty for indulging in more than my share as I hit publish on this post and spend the rest of the afternoon lost in a book.

And, so..

Self-care: A list.

  • Take a walk. Whether it’s five minutes or two hours. Clear your mind and breathe in the fresh air.
  • Listen to podcasts. This is a favorite of mine because I can usually get some me time easily throughout my day, whether I’m running to and from in the car, at my desk at work or even folding laundry and cleaning the house. (Some of my latest favorites are Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard*, Babes & Babies, Coffee & Crumbs, Super Soul Conversations and any podcast dissecting Stranger Things episodes. Do you have any favorites I should add to my list?)
  • Epsom salt baths. I always have a bag of Epsom salts on hand for a soak. Or even better, bath bombs. I love the ones from Lush, but I also made some homemade ones for Christmas gifts and they turned out really well. I used this recipe. Light some candles and enjoy.
  • Meet your girlfriends for a drink.
  • Visit the library. This one is interesting because typically when I go to the library I take my kids because they love it so much. But you know what, so do I. I love to peruse the movies and pick out a few romantic comedies or documentaries that I’m interested in. I always have a hold list at our local library so that whenever I hear of or stumble across a book I’d like to read, I add it to my hold list and then when it becomes available I get an email and swing in and pick it up. It typically takes me a while to get through books these days, but I still enjoy it very much and almost always have a book with me. Also the music selection at the library is great too, I love to pick up a recent soundtrack I enjoyed or an oldie, but goodie that I haven’t heard in a while. And bonus, it’s free. 
  • Netflix binge. To some this might not seem like a good one, but for me it’s one of the only true escapes that can completely clear my mind and take me some place else. Crawling into my bed with a drink, some snacks, peace and quiet and Netflix. Sign. Me. Up. Some favorites include One Tree Hill, Gilmore Girls, Parenthood, Friday Night Lights, Breaking Bad, Dexter, and many, many more.
  • Go for a drive. Sometimes by myself, just getting on the highway for a while and jamming to a good playlist. It’s truly shocking how much this helps. Bonus points if you have a sunroof open. But also even loading up the family sometimes and getting on the road. We have a favorite pizza place that is about half an hour away, and sometimes just loading the kids in the car, turning on some music and going for a nice long drive to pick up dinner can be so refreshing. I am particularly fond of this on days that the kids aren’t playing nice together. You know, just strap them into their seats so they can’t move and can’t touch each other. SOUNDS GOOD.
  • Crawl into bed with a cup of my favorite Cameron’s blend and a library book is right up there for me too. I’m starting to sense a theme here....
  • Stroll a museum or art gallery. They are filled with endless inspiration and I have found can pretty quickly leave me feeling recharged and energized.
  • Eat healthy. There is something to be said of a satisfying, nourishing meal of veggies and a lean protein. It makes you feel good inside and it feels good knowing you made a healthy choice. That being said, replacing your entire meal with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s would also qualify as self-care in my book.
  • Skip plans sometimes. You don’t have to be everything to everyone and while sometimes drinks with friends might be the self-care you are seeking, other times you may just need some alone time for reflection or just a nice, long nap. Listen to your instincts and give into yourself and what you need. Bottom line, it’s OK to say NO.
  • Use under eye cream. I can hear my mother scolding me for this one in my head. It shouldn’t have taken me thirty-three years to start using it religiously, alas here we are.
  • Buy some fresh flowers and spread them throughout your home. In the summer our farmer’s market sells the best bouquets for $10 each. I can spread that one bouquet throughout five or six vases all over my house and each one brings me such joy. A grocery store bouquet in the middle of winter works just great too! Or better yet, sign up for a flower delivery service that will automatically send you fresh blooms in the mail.
  • Wear my glasses more/contacts less. Recognizing that I only have one set of eyes for my entire lifetime and should care for them well. The same could be said for many other things as well.
  • Go on a date. Not only is this good for your marriage or relationship, but I find it good for me too. We recently had our first date in a very, very long time and I just hadn’t realized how much I am always, always, always in mom mode. Obviously I should be, but gosh, to just be me and be in love with my husband was a recharge I desperately needed.
  • Stroll Target. Need I say more?
  • Seek a good therapist. This one is a loaded topic, but something very high on my current list of self-care. I struggle with anxiety, panic attacks and OCD. I have, in a sense my whole life, but really noticeably since college. Having kids has only amplified my anxiety and I have been meaning to seek out a therapist for years. I AM GOING TO DO IT. Since moving to our new house last May, my anxiety has peaked more than ever before and I notice my OCD tendencies right along with it. It just is not a way that I want to live my life and I have had enough of it. It affects everything I do… my sleep, my work, my children, my marriage, my quality of life. I need help and I’m not afraid to admit it. The hunt is on to find the right fit for me.
  • Sit on the porch with a cup of coffee and take in the world. The people, the scenery, the weather, nature. Bonus points if you have a porch swing.
  • Get out on the water, any chance you get.
  • Get a hair cut. Seems basic, right? Wrong. I can never seem to find the time to get myself there, but feel like a million bucks once I do. Just make it a priority. As important as a doctor’s visit. It’s the only way that I can seem to make myself get there, even if I have to change my work schedule around it. 
  • Work out. Another new one for me. I suck at exercising and of course, finding the time to exercise is very challenging. But we have a treadmill at home and I have a cheap gym membership and I’m just going to make my health a priority, even if that means I don’t get as much sleep at night and my house isn’t always clean and I have to skip Fixer Upper. It will be OK.
  • Take a dang nap.
  • Make lists. Maybe this is just specific to me, but making lists calms me. If I have thoughts in my mind that are jumbled and scattered I get stressed trying to organize it all mentally. Putting pen to paper and organizing my thoughts allows me to relax and focus on the tasks at hand. 
  • Drink. Whether it’s a wine, beer, mixer kind of night. Meeting your water quota for the day. Or your favorite cup of coffee or soothing tea. My current favorite blends from Cameron’s Coffee are Toasted Southern Pecan, Caribbean Hazelnut and Buttered RumEnjoy and replenish your body.
  • Listen to music. I have a playlist for when I’m feeling stressed out here that I find very calming and grounding. You can find it here.
  • Go plant shopping. Plants are just good for your soul. They are fresh, they are vibrant, they are alive. Bringing a new plant friend into our home, finding it a perfect little cozy spot and tending to it as it grows is just rejuvenating. 
  • Journal. Just let it flow naturally.
  • Watch a sunset. Or sunrise.
  • Bake a pie. Have you ever seen Waitress? Channel your emotions into that pie. Or crank up some music and just follow a recipe and don’t think for a while. The result will be delicious either way.
  • Always, always, always go to the beach.

I hope this list helps you. A recurring theme for me, clearly, is finding the time to take care of myself. But I think it's also helpful to recognize that it doesn't necessarily take as much time as you might think. It just takes effort. And we should make the effort, because we are worth it.

*The Armchair Expert episode that Dax interviews his wife Kristen Bell is pure gold. Her outlook on life is absolutely refreshing and listening to her words on contributions to society, social media, comparisons, marriage, humanity, among other things, really struck me profoundly. I admire her so, so much.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Cameron's Coffee. All thoughts and opinions are my own.