We have another guest post today from writer and wellness connoisseur Christina Taylor.
This is the number one, and I really mean number one, answer to my questions regarding stress. How can I feel better during this stressful period? Self-care. How can I feel less anxious about (enter ridiculous thing that statistically will probably never happen here)? Self-care. How can I feel less sad? Self-care. The jig is up everyone, take care of yourself and you will feel better. But the one question that remains is “What can I do when self-care feels like a chore?”
More often than not I don’t feel like I have the energy to take care of myself when I’m feeling down and out. The last thing I want to do is sit around breathing in silence when my mind is going a mile a minute. As a culture, so rare are the times where we are actually “sitting with ourselves.” The technology of smart-everythings has made that nearly impossible. We spend the time sitting in a waiting room, standing on line, heck, even sitting at a table at a restaurant when our partner goes to the bathroom, staring at our phones. It has become more of a reflex than a habit to pull out our phone instead of sitting with ourselves. Now, sitting with ourselves doesn’t have to mean actually sitting down and not doing anything. This can mean going for a walk, looking around and taking everything in, or letting your mind wander when you’re waiting for something or someone. This reconnection with ourselves can really be the step we need to take towards self-care. Allowing our minds to speak to our hearts, with an unbroken connection, can oftentimes lead us to fully understanding our own wants, needs, and desires. This is the first, and sometimes the only necessary, step towards self-care.
Self-care often feels like a chore because I, and mostly everyone else in our culture, tend to want to keep going and going. Stopping to become sedentary and do something nice for myself feels so far from second nature. Before I can even consider doing something relaxing (ie: taking a bath) it seems like my mind lists at least 10 reasons as to why I shouldn’t be doing it. Self-care then becomes a chore, making it seem counter-intuitive. Our minds have a funny way of doing this to us. Without even realizing it they turn something that normally would calm us down into something that works us up. How do we get away from this and reap the benefits of self-care? That reconnection to ourselves is the first step and then what? Personally, I have to become my own parent. Think of all the times our parents made us do something “for our own good.” In reality, when we’re adults, we become our own parent. No one can take care of you like you can take care of yourself. We have to be the parent to ourselves and make ourselves take care of ourselves for our own good. That doesn’t sound like some big “aha Oprah” moment, but it is. Think of all the things we don’t want to do, but we have to. Paying our bills when we’d rather spend the money on something more fun, eating a healthy meal because you know your body will thank you for it – just to name a few. Make self-care one of these must-do’s. Stop what you are doing and make yourself read a chapter of that book that has collected dust on your nightstand, make yourself stand up and stretch your body, make yourself do something that feels good to you. Your mind and body will thank you.
Once you get into the habit of doing things for yourself it won’t feel like such a chore, and if it does – push on through it. Keep taking steps in the right direction and you’ll soon find that you’ve gotten up that huge hill faster than you thought.