A friend asked me about self-care this week, and I wanted to share with her a few self-care activities or rituals, but I found myself stuck, and couldn't quite figure out why.
My mind kept coming back to this exercise that I've used in my online course. Maybe on first glance, it's not about self-care, but more about identity and figuring out the things we love and that make us feel like ...well... "us". But maybe that's the first step in self-care? Getting to know the self we want to care about?
Because I could tell you to do some yin yoga, or jump in the sea (both of which I did today and made me feel amazing), but if you're not a water person, or you prefer spin classes to Savasana, then it's not going to work for you.
So instead, I'm sharing this "sense of self" exercise. Something to help you show you care for the unique self that you are, by honouring and indulging in the activities that speak to your soul.
Take a piece of paper and make three columns. In the first column, list 10-20 things you love to do or consider part of your identity or speak deeply to you. These can be things you haven’t done in a long time, or even things that seem impossible right now (foreign travel and music festivals anyone?) Just write it down anyway. Consider a range of things that make you feel grounded, excited, inspired.. but don't over-think it!
Add to the list 5 things you'd like to try, or visualise as part of your identity or sense of self in the future. Ignore any voices that arise telling you "this isn't for you" or "You wouldn't be any good at that". Really.. tell that inner critic to quiet down, and write it down anyway.
In the second column write down some tiny goals related to these activities – something that could be done this week. It doesn’t have to be a long period of time. You might pick something that you could spend just 10 minutes on (on a quick break from work?), or while the baby naps. Small windows of time can still hold deep meaning! With current restrictions on where we can go and what we can do, this will be harder for some activities that others. But let your creativity flow! Maybe you can't travel but you can watch a documentary about that bucket list destination, maybe you can't dance all night in the woods, but you can turn up the beats and dance in your kitchen.
Pick just 2-3 goals for this week. No more!
Finally, look at your list and your goals and consider whether you included REST in any way. Probably not- we are usually action oriented and rest doesn't seem like a goal in itself. But consider how grounded you feel after a good night's sleep, after a lazy evening with a hot bath and a good book. So add a tiny goal around rest. One night in the week where you'll go to bed earlier. An evening where you switch off your phone, that hot bath..
In the third column. List anything practical you need to make those goals happen (some help with childcare, to let go of some other task, to relax about a little TV time etc) Note what this is and what action you need to take.
Jot down a time and a day for the tiny goal- put it into your calendar if you like.
Ask for the help you need (if you need help) and then JUST DO IT