Whew—talk about a buzzword for our time! In a community of ambitious goal-getters—who also desire to live a balanced life of intention and joy—it's no wonder that talk of self care can set off a flurry of emotions (and even anxiety!).
Am I taking enough time for myself?
Am I being selfish?
What is self care, anyway?
This is important. These types of unresolved internal conflicts, or constantly swinging on a pendulum from guilt and indulgence, can eat away at the time and mental space we have available to focus on what matters most.
So today, I wanted to open the conversation and offer a few thoughts that have been helpful for me as I've thought deeply about the idea of self care over the past few years. I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments, too!
Here is where I have landed: the best way to care for myself and live joyfully is to build a life that doesn't require escape.
For me, self care is less a list of things to schedule into my days or weeks, and more a strategy of putting together a life I love, one that I don’t feel like I need a respite from. As much as possible, I build my life from things that energize me. I make time and leave energy to see the joy in even the simplest, most mundane parts of life.
To do this requires cutting out the things that drain me. When I’m caring for myself well, I don’t feel burdened by a to do list, I don’t feel like I’m wasting time on things that don’t matter to me, and there aren’t tasks I’m dreading looming over my head.
Of course, not everything can be cut out, and I don’t always succeed at this, but I do have a three-pronged strategy for lessening the burden of the more mundane parts of life:
— First, I cut out or batch as many undesirable tasks as possible. I grocery shop just once a week. I get by with the bare minimum in housecleaning (ha!). I have habits in place to keep me from scrolling on social media. I make several day’s worth of lunches in one evening.
— Second, for anything that has to stay on my plate, I try to make it as enjoyable as possible. In the words of Mary Poppins, “in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun!” :) I turn on music while cleaning. I work in the yard side-by-side with my family. I listen to podcasts while running errands.
— Third, if there’s just no way to make something “fun,” I do my best to think of it as part of my calling, something that can either be seen as a burden or a privilege — and that choice is mine. Certain duties are just that: duties. There's no point in railing against the unfairness of taking out the trash, because it's just a part of life and it will still need to get done once my tantrum is over.
And aren’t we lucky to have lives and families and chores to attend to? I have children, so I GET to make lunches for them. I have a home, so I GET to clean the bathroom. For me, that mindset shift makes all the difference.
I'd love to hear: what do you consider self care? Is it something you think about often? Do you include it in your PowerSheets®? Have you considered what you might cut back on instead of adding in the name of living a more balanced, joyful life? Please share in the comments!