The last few days I’ve been cleaning my house. Vigorously. Our family is visiting from up north, more family is coming over this weekend, and our house is being appraised. I’ve been getting on my hands and knees scrubbing the spots off the tiles. I’ve been sweeping up teeny tiny crumbs. I’ve paid attention to the smallest of details, to the smallest piece of dirt, to the thinnest layer of dust.
In other words, we’ve been taking exquisite care in cleaning our home. We’re proud of our place, and we want it to show. And it feels good to tend to it. To express care for something meaningful to both of us.
This level of care got me thinking. How often do we take such exquisite care of ourselves?
I’m not talking about hygiene or scrupulously focusing on every wrinkle, stray hair or imperfection (and trying to fix it immediately). I’m talking about paying attention to our needs with the same level of focus we spend on removing the dust from our photos or the streaks from our windows. With the same level of tending. I’m talking about spending the same amount of time on ourselves as we do taking care of our homes.
How many hours do you spend a week or month tidying up or deep cleaning? How many times do you feel guilty for taking a walk or taking a long shower or bath because you should be cleaning or taking care of something else? But how often do you feel guilty for carving out time to clean?
I’m talking about viewing caring for ourselves with the same importance and sense of urgency as we do washing the dishes or scrubbing the tub. I definitely see cleaning as one form of self-care (because taking care of our surroundings can be taking care of ourselves; for instance, see here and here).
But here I’m talking about the tending of our needs — our need for sleep, rest, food, feeling our emotions, doing things we love, fulfilling ourselves in all sorts of ways; tending to our emotional, mental, physical, spiritual health and well-being.
I’m talking about cherishing our bodies. After all, they’re home to our souls.
Maybe you don’t clean that often or that meticulously. But you put a lot of time, effort and care into other things — like work, cooking, parenting. And, understandably, you take a lot of pride in that.
What would your self-care look like if you gave yourself the same time and attention, the same admiration and respect? What would your self-care look like if you approached it with the same effort, curiosity, energy or excitement? What would it look like if you approached self-care with the same level of urgency and importance?
These are questions I’m currently reflecting on, and will keep returning to. They’re questions that may not have easy or immediate answers. But necessary questions rarely do.
Do you tend to yourself with the same time, effort and energy that you tend to your home, work or kids? What would your self-care look like if you did? How would you feel?