Updated: May 19
My April Self-Care challenge through a becoming peaceful facebook group has taught me that taking care of myself is simple, and also not optional. Spending the time to organize my thoughts about how I've been coping with this new [normal] is better for me than any manicure ever could be. This exercise of expressing my own shift into Self-Care as a mindful endeavor vs indulgence or rest and relaxation is in itself Self-Care.
This pandemic has taught me that literally any time I devote to observing my senses is Self-Care. I can do any chore with intention, and honor it for the space it opens in my home and mind. If it is done, then it doesn't need to take up anymore headspace. I can teach my children to do more chores, thereby easing the load I bare. That is another challenge worth meeting! Teaching my kids to do the floors, dishes, laundry, clean their own bathroom. required a calm mind, and an adjustment of my expectations. Again, Self-Care. For the skills I've used to teach these chores, while being firm and kind, see Becoming Peaceful.
Back to manicures- I was an expert at not letting a manicure be restorative. Have you ever tried to accomplish as much as possible while your hands were receiving a lovely massage? Me too. My first mindfulness skill was to relax and allow myself to focus on the sensations of the hand massage. It was incredibly restoring, and a jarring difference to my usual experience. Paying close attention to enjoyable feelings served as a gateway to mindfulness.
Maybe it was insensitive to bring up manicures of pre-pandemic life. Let me make up for it by saying that this Self-Care is way better than that Self-Care. Not that I'll ever take a professional manicure for granted again.
I shared on 12/28/2019 that I had starting seeing a mental health professional for my parenting failures. I am forever grateful that I took that step, because I shudder to think how I would have handled all this, otherwise. Upping my meditation, and taking mindful pauses throughout the day made a lovely impact on my family life in a matter of weeks. Fast forward to 3/13/2020: Parenting, teaching, working all in the same place got me approaching old patterns. I had tools to shift the patterns, and vow never to go back to the old ways. After about a week of Self-Care, I noted improvement. After a month of Self-Care, I am down to the occasional day in which I raise my voice. With so many added stressors, I am impressed.
True Self-Care is honoring the needs of my body and recognizing that what I do for me, I also do for those whom depend on me. Going for walks with my partner is a lovely addition to our lifestyle, and it is nice to add something while circumstances have taken so many creature comforts away. Where I've fallen short is taking the time to stretch my body for 10 minutes. After an hour away, I feel compelled to return to house-manager mode. I have neglected it, only to regret that when I felt tight and achy. She types with achey calves and ankles. Here's to hoping that the Self-Care activity of journaling leads to the Self-Care activity of stretching. This is a practice in which perfect is unattainable.
Becoming Peaceful workshops and online support groups has stocked my tool belt, but I fumble with those tools unless I am self-regulated. The mindful breaks described in Breathe Mama Breath by Shonda Moralis, MSW, LCSW are my self-regulation tools which can transform doing the dishes into Self-Care.
If you might be interested in a fairly regular, virtual meeting to explore mindfulness and self-regulation comment or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, I'll share my minimum mindfulness regimen:
10 minutes in my PJs, just rolled after bed, I sit and listen to birds talking.
Write down 3 things for which I am grateful
Pay attention to my latte (name all 5 senses)
Play good music in the kitchen.
If these things don't happen, I am not my best self.
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