I recently joked that I wish self-care had been a college course, but, the truth is, I would have failed miserably. In college, I would have told you self-care was for the weak. For those who couldn't take it. Rest days? No, thanks. Unproductive time spent doing something you love? For the birds.
It wasn't until the second half of my 20s that I learned the value of and need for self-care. I know now that self-care isn't weak. In fact, it's the opposite. Recognizing when it's time to care for yourself shows you are in tune with your body and mind. It takes maturity, honesty and strength.
When I first started seeing my therapist, my homework was to watch 30 minutes of TV without doing anything productive. This probably sounds silly to a lot of you, but for me it was a huge lift. It took me weeks to accomplish the task. I was so anxious! It felt incredibly indulgent to sit there and do absolutely nothing.
When you're first practicing self-care, this is a very normal reaction. We live in such a connected world that the liturgy of our lives is one of constant productivity. Even when we're scrolling through social media, which can feel unproductive, we're connecting with friends, online shopping, finding home decor ideas or building our own brands. We've created lives with very little white space, which is space we desperately need. In the wise words of Anne Lamott: Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes...including you.
With that in mind below are a few of my favorite ways to practice self-care. They're gateway tips - with a little bit of use, self-care will become more and more natural.
1. Go for a walk, listen to something just for fun.
Don't call anyone (that's productive!). Don't scroll through your phone or reply to texts. Don't listen to something that's work-related. For me, this means no How I Built This or TED Talks - those fall into the productive zone. I like to listen to the Shauna Niequist podcast, Up & Vanished or something equally as fun. It's such a good way to decompress from a busy day.
2. Sit outside with a cup of coffee.
Sit, sip, soak in the sun. Take 10 minutes to sip on your coffee and enjoy fresh air before the busy day begins.
3. Light a candle, read a book.
Back in the day, I called this Kindle and Candle time, but, I've since reverted to paper books. However, the candle remains in tact! I recently had a coaching client who told me she could only read "productive" books because she didn't feel right reading something just for fun. This was me at 23! My reading slowed down so much in my early 20s because I didn't make room for fiction. Let your brain rest with pleasure reading.
4. Do 10-minute easy yoga.
Recently I've been putting my yoga mat outside in the sun and doing short Yoga with Adriene videos. I love her Yoga for Busy People series. She even has a 10-minute self-care video! It's yoga for stretching, not sweating and it's an awesome mental break.
5. Treat Yo Self
Put on the perfume you save for special occasions. Burn the candle you normally save for guests. Drink the good wine, even if it's just you. Paint your nails and do a face mask. Treat yourself like someone special in your life.