I recently came across a powerful definition of self-care in Jessica N. Turner’s wonderful new book Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter and Thrive.
She heard the definition referenced on The Simple Show podcast. It comes from Kendra Adachi who believes that self-care is anything that makes us feel like ourselves.
Don’t you love this?
Turner writes in her book, “I really connected with this simple definition. When someone invests in their own self-care, they are doing what their minds, bodies, and souls need to feel refreshed, alive and whole.”
What helps you to feel like yourself? When was the last time you did that?
“I have always been a crafter. Before I had kids, I crafted constantly in my free time. As my career and family have grown, I have had less time to craft. During a particularly busy season, I went so many months without crafting that walking into my craft room caused me to weep. I missed it so much. Something had to change. Now I am doing a better job of making time for those creative hobbies because they are so important to my wellness.”
Turner further writes, “Doing something creative is good for my soul, and when I am soul happy, I am able to do other things with ease, and a positive attitude. Truth be told, the week I was making [a Halloween] costume, my workload was brutal and consuming. I was exhausted and fighting to keep my head above water. For that very reason I took time to stop and create, knowing that if I did, I would have enough energy to push through.”
Maybe what soothes and satiates your soul and helps you to feel most like yourself is singing, so you join your church choir. Maybe it’s creating comic books. Maybe it’s reading and penning your own poetry. Maybe it’s baking bread every Friday night. Maybe it’s dancing to your favorite music. Maybe it’s going to the synagogue. Maybe it’s hiking among majestic surroundings. Maybe it’s sitting on the beach watching the waves. Maybe it’s meditating. Maybe it’s golfing or swimming laps. Maybe it’s painting or gardening or making clothes.
If you’re not sure, consider this an opportunity to reconnect to yourself, to experiment and explore, to play with different activities and approaches. Turner encourages readers to think back to what we enjoyed doing as kids. That’s probably still true today—or maybe some part of it is still accurate.
What if you don’t have time for such activities?
Figure out what you can delete, delegate or simplify from your to-do list. According to Turner, “For instance, instead of making a home-cooked meal, maybe you could get takeout, or keep things simple with sandwiches and fruit.” She suggests jotting down three ideas for simplifying your days during busier times, “so you can continue to make yourself a priority.”
Because you are a priority—whether you’ve finished all your tasks for the day or not, whether you have others to take care of or not, whether you think you deserve it or not.