Self-care vs Reality
Updated: Nov 17, 2019
Self-care is on everybody's lips lately. Everywhere on social media and other digital platforms, the visual concept linked with this hashtag is dragging some attention. Good or bad, conflicted are the opinions on this very trendy topic. Although it may look glamorous, self-care remains a very vague concept for me. What does it really means? What is required of me for me in order to care for myself?... So many questions running through my head as my life was unhealthily spinning out of control for the past year. I really needed to figure this out.
While trying to wrap my head around ‘’self-caring’’, I couldn't help but noticing that, there is a perception often associated with an expensive lifestyle, not everybody can afford. This superficial imagery of self-care, I am sure, is creating some frustrations as it seems unfair to the rest of the people who are not able to ‘’self-care’’ the way it is portrayed.
Do not get me wrong, people are free to do what they want and call it ''self-care''. Maybe it is ‘’purgatory’’ to them in a way but self-care goes beyond the materialistic things.
I believe, self-care should involve activities that are positively impacting the body, the mind and the soul, no matter what I choose to do.
I define ''self-care'' as a meeting with myself, a moment where I choose to focus on the positive, a zone free of anxiety & stress: a moment of physical, emotional or mental rest.
In the best of all possible worlds, self-care should be a daily practice, a routine that consists of a mix of satisfying activities. The short term goal being to forget about my "ninety problems" for a minute while the long term would be to focus on improving my mental and physical health. I am therefore careful not to create an unhealthy addiction while picking a ''self-care'' activity.
I also find that regularly practicing or doing something I am passionate about, nourishes my soul while reading or listening a motivational message keeps my mind on a positive tone. Once I am in sync from the inside, I am then able to make better choices in order to take care of my body. In this context, even doing nothing is still considered a self-care's activity, as long as it participates to my well being.
That being said, a ''self-care'' activity does not necessarily rhyme with expenses. It could be as simple as reading a book, taking a nap, taking a walk or could be a luxurious trip to your favorite place, going on an adventure … The sky is the limit!
But if "self-caring" activities vary from one individual to another, one thing is for sure: self-care requires TIME. Whether it is five minutes, two hours, a whole day or more... it is important to be able to focus on yourself and nothing else for a moment. That's when it becomes tricky for parents, single parents or immigrant parents with young children to set some time apart in order to care for themselves.
As a single parent myself, I have learnt to plan my time and efficiently utilize my resources to make it possible. Here are five tips I find helpful to practice ''self-care'' during this season of my life; raising a two-year old ''busy'’ boy while working full time, volunteering, writing songs, and doing many other things.
Create a "Self-care" place in your house
Although the ultimate goal is to have a ''me '' time every day. Let's be honest, it is not the case for all of us. I have days where I can’t even function properly. Times where my mind is focused on everybody and everything around but myself. So in order to be intentional about sparing some time to focus on my mental health, I have bought a nice chair, some pillows and a dimmed light, to create a nice quiet place in my living room. There, I can sit after I put my son to bed and try to relax by reading, meditating, writing a song.... Usually I will grab a cup of tea, a piece of cake and just indulge. This place is just a reminder that I need to slow down my thinking process after a long day.
2.Get your family members and friends involve
I talked about it in one of my previous posts, there is no shame to ask for help. Usually, I will ask a friend or family member to babysit, when my son is napping or sleeping so it’s not too much of a work. I can then utilize those couple of hours to care for myself and have my time alone.
3.Find an activity that you and your children both enjoy doing
If it is hard to find someone to watch the kids for a couple of hours, you might as well find an activity that is also relaxing for you and the kids. I love swimming. Thankfully, my son loves that same activity. So we get to spend some time relaxing together in the pool.
I know, it is defying the purpose of ''self-caring'' as you are not really focused on you but you get to at least, practice a sport you love and release some of that anxiety. Another idea would be to find a club which offers childcare services and voilà!
4. Open a ''self-care'' piggy bank
Even if it is a dollar per week, please save up to allow yourself some well deserved vacations or pay for sitter or take yourself out on a date. Now, I said self-care does not necessarily involve spending money and it does not. But everybody likes a good treat and deserves a reward after some hard work. Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed... Go for it!
If it is not possible for now, think about your career on the long run or look for ideas to become financially flexible ( second job, side hustle...). It takes time but you can start building a better future for yourself and your family now.
5. Find your purpose
This is probably the most important point and the hardest. When your soul is not at ease, caring for you can be quite challenging ... You can do things that will temporally satisfy you, but never fill that void deep inside. This situation can allow unhealthy addictions to quickly settle in and affect your mental health. I find, doing something that fulfills me, to be one of the best mental health protector because it brings such a sense of accomplishment and a meaning to my life.
Through sharing your passion in various ways or caring for someone other than you, you will find something bigger to live for and this will bring great relief to your soul.
At the end of the day, there isn’t an exhaustive list of do's and don’t's that can define taking care of you. You know yourself your likes, dislikes, your budget or familial context, your mental state. It is more a matter of the soul than anything else. Find in you the right reasons to do the things you do, knowing that you matter, your presence on earth is not vain… you have so much to give and to receive. Do not give up taking care of you!
Bye for now...