The Simplest Form of Radical Self-Care

The term Radical Self-Care has been rattling around in my brain for a couple of weeks. I listened to a TED talk given by Anne Lamont called 12 truths I learned from life and writing and since then I can’t get the words out of my head. Even though I often think about how to incorporate self-care into my life, attaching the word radical has taken on new meaning.

Self-care is one of those buzz words that gets thrown around a lot. We receive so many messages every day including: eat better, sleep better, daily exercise, and learn to meditate. The amount of information can be overwhelming but there is a simple way to radical self-care.

Consider the following:

When we take a flight, one of the first of the safety instructions is that if the oxygen masks come down, be sure to put your own on first before helping any others, including your own children.

The reason to put your own mask on first is that if you wait and help everyone else, you may not survive.
I think this is the very definition of radical self-care: You must take care of yourself first or you won’t survive.

Not surviving comes in many forms. Exhaustion, depression and anxiety, medicating either through established avenues such as your doctor or through self-medicating, and whole host of other things that numb us to our true feelings.

Who loses when you don’t take care of yourself?

Just like in the airplane example: you, your children, anyone around you that could have been helped if only you would have taken the time to make sure you were okay first.

Your health and sanity are just a couple of things that you jeopardize by not taking care of yourself.

And, why don’t we take better care of ourselves?

I’m quite certain there are many reasons but the ones that resonate with me are the following:

Societal expectations – this is the one that simply says that everyone else must come first.

Guilt – because we’ve learned that everyone else comes first we feel guilty for even wanting to take care of ourselves and that is a powerful deterrent.

Time – though is an excuse, life gets busy and because you’ve put yourself last, you’ve become convinced that there is no time to take care of yourself.

Expectations – as a perfectionist, I struggle with doing everything the “right” way.

Hint: there is no right way.

What can we do?

Here comes the simplest way to radical self-care. Are you ready for it?

The simplest and, yet, most radical form of self-care is to say NO.

Saying yes to everything that presents itself to you saying no to you. I often tell friends and clients that no is a complete sentence. No explanations necessary. By saying yes to taking care of yourself and no to others, you are one step closer to that life you want.

Really!?!?

I said it was simple, I didn’t say it was easy. Saying no is one of the most difficult things to do but one of the most empowering.

I dare you to try it. Especially with those requests that you’ve said yes to and immediately wished you could have said no.

I dare you to take care of yourself first and see how much better you are for your family, friends, work and life.

I dare you!

Life At The Speed Of Sound

Life is going fast lately. Too fast. I feel as if I am out of breath most of the time.

Summer is just beginning here in Northern Michigan and, already, my calendar is filling up. Most days, I simply slide through until I go to sleep at night, only to do it all over again the next day.

Between work itself being incredibly busy, we have end of year things to do, a wedding to plan and home improvement projects to complete. In between are the four weddings, four open houses and several family reunions. Not to mention, in the middle of all of this I am working on a second draft of a novel. I am certain there is little cure for the busyness that comes with summer.

 

That means I need to change my focus. I’ve read recently an article by raptitude.com called ‘You Never Have Time, Only Intentions’. I would encourage you to check this one out.

Though I am still processing this particular article, the idea behind the article is that time isn’t tangible. Time isn’t something we “have”. The only thing we have is this moment.

Even when we believe we have lots of time, the only thing we truly have is the intention for that time. The time will move on regardless of any action on our parts.

Living in the moment is difficult for me on a good day. On a bad day, forget about it. I’m only holding on until it’s over and I can go to bed.

One of the ways that I have been attempting to live in the moment is through an exercise (thanks, Katey Schultz) I learned about through a recent class.

I tend only to do this particular exercise on those mornings when I have lots of time. Slowing down helps me to settle my mind and move through my day with a more open attitude.

In this particular exercise, I divide an hour into four sections of 15 minutes each. With music playing and a timer set, I can forget about how much time I have left.

The How To:

The first 15 minutes is light reading, non craft related. I’ve been reading Brene Brown and that has been interesting for anyone who has read her. Currently I am reading ‘Daring Greatly’.

The second 15 minutes is devoted to journaling. During these minutes, with the timer set, I write my morning pages.

The third 15 minute section is for to meditation or some kind of movement. My yoga teacher hands out a 10-15 minute yoga practice each month and those have been handy for me to spend some time focused on movement. I don’t sit still very well.

The last 15 minute section is about feeding your soul. This can take whatever form you prefer. It is during this time that I focus on some of the other creative areas I am interested in, such as photography.

Although each section can be shortened to 10 minutes, I haven’t worked through it in that manner. It is possible if you don’t have that entire hour to dedicate to this exercise.

Since time is so fluid, being mindful of my own intention for the time I have is one of my goals this year. Most of the time my goals are just dreams or wishes. I would rather have the intention of living moment by moment than a goal. I just may find more success.