A self-care routine goes beyond spa days. It stems from reflecting deeply about our needs and our values. It stems from reflecting deeply about who we really are. For instance, author and coach Nancy G. Shapiro includes movement in her self-care routine because it energizes her physically and mentally and calms her emotionally. “Even short bursts of movement and stretching, and stepping outside for a breath of fresh air enlivens both my body and my outlook.”
Shapiro also takes great care not to over-schedule her days. “[B]eing pushed and pulled by too much leaves me feeling scrambled.” She also takes great care to fully focus on her priorities: her health, loved ones, clients, writing, creative time and quiet time.
Another act of self-care was writing her book The Book of Calm: Clarity, Compassion, and Choice in a Turbulent World.
“When I quit repeating the negative mantra of ‘I should be writing’ and re-arranged my priorities, the ‘letting go’ released a reservoir of energy that fueled the courage to sign the publishing contract and dive into the writing. It also brought forth a surprisingly deep endurance needed to finish the book.”
Shapiro’s self-care routine speaks to creating a life that respects and reflects our needs, values, loves.
That is, we care for ourselves by prioritizing our values and protecting that time. This might mean scheduling lunch dates with your partner and phone calls with far-away family members before scheduling anything else. This might mean carving out one hour a week to work on a creative project—like writing your memoir or snapping photos on your nature walk or taking a painting e-course. It might mean staying up-to-date on all your check-ups.
We care for ourselves by doing what energizes, enlivens, calms and comforts us. This might mean taking a dance class first thing in the morning, or reading a few pages of your favorite book. It might mean journaling at the end of the day to help you process your thoughts, feelings and experiences. It might mean making your bedroom into a beautiful sanctuary.
We care for ourselves by choosing what sustains and satiates us. This might mean anything from cooking your favorite meals to attending weekly mass. It might mean taking breaks throughout the day to take several slow, soothing breaths.
We care for ourselves by knowing what derails and doesn’t work for us—and reducing it or eliminating it from our lives. This might be scales, social media and unsupportive people. Which might mean tossing your bathroom scale right in the trash. It might mean deleting Instagram and Facebook from your phone (and maybe your profiles altogether), because something that was once inspiring and uplifting has turned into a deep drain and a significant source of jealousy. It might mean no longer hanging out with friends who are unkind and don’t have our best interests at heart.
We care for ourselves by telling the truth to ourselves. By saying we’re in pain. By saying we’re struggling. By saying something doesn’t feel right. By saying what does. By advocating for ourselves. By taking action and getting help and doing what supports our health and well-being. By being patient and by being understanding with ourselves.
Self-care is essentially a continuous dialogue with ourselves. It changes and evolves. Because we change and evolve. It’s continuously asking ourselves: What do I need right now? What is important to me? What am I missing? What am I yearning for? How do I want to care for myself? What do I want my self-care routine to look like, and maybe more importantly, to feel like?