“Self care is often portrayed as taking a shower or eating dinner while it’s hot. I believe that’s crazy. I do those things because I’m a person.”

I absolutely love these words. You’ll find them in this post by Lisa Hensley, a writer and mom to three boys with another baby on the way. I love these words because they speak to an important reminder: Some of what we do, the bare-bones stuff like brushing our teeth, washing our faces, eating breakfast and nutrient-rich foods and yes, showering, is simply that—bare essentials.

Of course, self-care is very personal. It means different things to different people. It looks like whatever you want or need it to look like. In other words, the definition is entirely up to you.

But what I love is Lisa’s phrase “because I’m a person.”

We tend to set the bar really low with self-care. We put the above bare essentials in the self-care category. I do this, too. This makes it seems like that’s all we need to feel cared for, to feel replenished, to feel well. But while a shower is wonderful and incredibly refreshing, we don’t have to stop there. We can ask for, and we can require more.

That’s really the point, the most vital, important point: It’s OK to require more. It’s OK to require alone time to do whatever the heck you want. It’s OK to require other activities that help you feel like you, that soothe, rejuvenate, inspire and uplift you.

It’s OK that you need to move your body beyond a few stretches, to take a yoga class that requires you to leave the house. It’s OK that you need to work with a therapist or coach to help you make sense of a difficult transition, to help you sort through a complicated situation, to help you feel better, to help you understand yourself better. It’s OK that you need to decline an invitation, an interview, another commitment because you want to focus on your art—art that you’re doing strictly for you, and not as a project for work or some other end.

It’s OK if your self-care routine includes morning pages every single day—or any other kind of journaling. Because journaling helps you reconnect to yourself, to your thoughts, feelings and dreams. It’s OK if your self-care routine includes 30 minutes in your garden and piano lessons a few times a week. It’s OK if your self-care routine includes reading a chapter a night and listening to a guided meditation. It’s OK if these really are your self-care bare essentials.

It’s OK if your self-care involves “shifting away from ‘shoulds’ and towards ‘wants’, ‘hungers’, and ‘desires.'” It’s OK if your self-care is regularly asking the question: “What would feel really good to do right now?”

Remember that it’s OK to require more self-care than a shower. Because a shower really isn’t self-care. Taking a shower—and performing similar activities—is what you do simply because you are a person.

Beyond showering or similar bare-bones activities, what activities help you feel cared for? What activities fill you up? What does moving away from “shoulds” and toward “wants, hungers and desires” look like for you? 

Photo by David Cohen.