- You don’t have to ask permission.
This might be the single most important thing to remember. You don’t need permission to take care of yourself. You don’t need anyone’s approval, nor do you need anyone’s opinion about what you do to take care of yourself. Well, unless taking care of yourself leads you to hurt other people. That’s not very cool. Ooh, and taking drugs. That’s pretty much the opposite of taking care of yourself.
- Even the small things count.
No one ever said that taking care of yourself meant huge gestures of kindness and compassion. Sometimes self-care means taking your favorite stretch of highway on your way home, even if it is way out of your typical route. More often than not, it is the little things that we can try to incorporate into our every day that mean the most. Want that Slurpee? Do it! Want to sing a ballad from Swing Kids at the top of your lungs while cruising down the freeway? Do it!
- You won’t always be #1 on your list, and that is okay.
Self-care will always be an ongoing endeavor. As time goes on, and as you are more mindful of the practice of self-care, it will get easier, but you will still need to be intentional in your actions. Unfortunately, though, life will get in the way. There will always be work deadlines, family issues, traffic on your way home that eats up your extra time, etc. The important thing to remember is that just because you may go days or weeks without taking time for yourself, doesn’t mean you’ll never do it again. It just means you snatch up what little time you do find, even if it is for only five minutes, and work to get back in the habit of taking care of yourself.
- Laughter can cure what ails you.
One thing I know that can breathe a bit more life into me is laughter. Typically, if it is at the expense of someone else it makes it even better. (I’m kidding. Kind of.)
I try to surround myself with people that are pretty funny in their own right, or at the very least, surround myself with people who have a twisted sense of humor much like my own. These people are the ones that breathe life into my sails, and make me laugh so hard I cover my face because I know I’m ugly-laughing. If I walk away with a red face and a stomach ache from laughing, I know I’ve found my people.
- Sometimes you need to go big.
I’m a firm believer that when you are stuck in what seems to be the death spiral of absolute BS in life, you are absolutely entitled to get out and clear your head. This doesn’t mean you’re giving up on whatever situation you’re in. In fact, it means quite the opposite. Walking away and catching your breath means you value your own sanity and need to take some time to recover. Often times taking the opportunity to regroup offers up a perspective shift that could be the missing key that you need to sort out the BS.
So, if you need to jump in the car and head south to warmer weather for a day or two, do it. If you prefer pine trees to the ocean, and head to the mountains to convene with nature ala Edward Abbey, do it. If you need to go really big, and hop on a plane to Mexico where you will sit on the beach at an all-inclusive while the cabana boy brings you mojitos, do it. And take me with you, please.
- Self-care isn’t selfish.
If anyone ever tries to tell you that taking care of yourself in the manner that you wish is selfish, tell them to go to hell. Seriously, you have my permission (not that you needed it, right?).
Those that love you and honor you in their life want you to be well, for you and for them (in that order). If they try to make you believe otherwise, then they are not worth the energy or the space in your life. Harsh, I know, but it is the truth. There are going to be times where people are going to say you’ve changed, or that you are no longer the person they knew (and they don’t mean it in a good way), but all this tells you is that they don’t know how to handle the fact that you’re no longer living life like they want you to. Their comments aren’t so much a reflection of you, as they are reflection of the struggle they have in their own mind and soul.
- If all else fails, try to have an attitude of gratitude.
There will be times where we feel like we don’t have the time or the money to do what we want to take care of ourselves. In situations like this, I rely on remembering at least five things I am grateful for that happened that day. I’d like to say that most days my lists are full of grand gestures of gratitude. In reality, most days I’m grateful that I remembered to wear the comfortable bra, or that the bathroom at work didn’t stink like I had just missed the morning post-coffee rush.
If you have days where the only thing you can be grateful for is that your commute to work was smooth, or that you noticed how blue the sky was when you were outside at lunch, that is okay. It isn’t always about the big things; the small things are perfect too.
- You don’t have to ask permission.
I know, you’re thinking that I clearly don’t read my lists as I bang them out on the computer. If I did I would have noticed that I already addressed permission at the beginning. Well, guess what sister? This one is so important that I thought it made the perfect bookend to a list about self-care. You know why? Because this is my list and I do what I want.
Nothing says a big “screw you!” to haters than taking care of yourself and doing your thing. There isn’t a single ounce of shame in doing something that makes you happy. I know I said before that if it involves hurting someone, then maybe you should avoid it, but if you have to inflict pain on someone, do it to a sibling. I’m pretty sure they have to love you no matter what, so use it to your advantage. But only in an emergency. And maybe give them a hug afterwards or something to show your gratitude. (Oh, see what I did there? I just gave you something for your gratitude list. You. Are. Welcome.)