What have you done for yourself this week? Or is your messy life getting in the way?
Is it hard to even remember? Does the idea of doing something for yourself feel impossible? Laughable? Too selfish to even consider?
I’ve had a week like that. Every time I turn around, it seems, I get a little more bad news. Some new complicated thing I need to manage. I can feel that I’m carrying all of my worries in the muscles of my shoulders and every time I move I hurt. And then that makes me worry about the link between stress and cancer reoccurrence. As if I need something else to worry about.
But it is weeks like this that I know how very important it is to take good care of myself. To do things that are just for me. They have to be tiny, mostly, but they have to be in there.
The week after I was diagnosed with cancer last year, I remember talking on the phone to a friend who asked, “What does your self-care look like right now?” I couldn’t think of anything, at first. And then I remembered that each morning for the last three days I had chosen to put the same tee-shirt back on. It was my favorite shirt. It was comfortable and looked good on me. And it saved me the energy of picking a new outfit. I told her that, sort of embarrassed to admit it, but she laughed and said, “That’s great self-care right there.”
Ever since I’ve had a different image of what self-care in the midst of really messy life might look like. I might not have time for a nap, or to get my nails done, or even meet a friend for coffee, but that doesn’t mean I’m not doing things that take care of and feed me.
Your self-care in the middle of a messy week might look like going to bed just 30 minutes earlier with a book to read. It might be noticing the way the light is shining in the restroom window and pausing to snap a picture (from the toilet – true story).
Or it might be something bigger. On Monday morning, I had a 90-minute massage at 9:30 in the morning – right after I dropped off my daughter at school. It felt huge and frivolous, but I felt better that day, and since, than I have felt in weeks.
And when I feel good, I manage my messy life better, I parent better, I communicate better with my partner, and I’m more likely to do other small, but kind, things for myself to keep myself feeling good.
Here are some other small self-care ideas, if your life is a hot mess right now:
- Grab a handful of flowers when you are at the grocery store.
- Choose the healthy snack or treat, so you get the “reward” feeling without the downside of feeling not-so-great or guilty afterwards.
- Write yourself a love note or an affirmation on your bathroom mirror. Dry-erase markers are great for this.
- Go for a photo walk, even if you just walk the perimeter of the school’s parking lot while you are already there, or around your neighborhood before going inside from your car.
- Keep a book in your car or bag and instead of getting on Facebook or Pinterest while you have a few minutes to wait, read instead. Or load up the Kindle app on your phone with good stuff, so you don’t even have to remember the book.
- Connect with a friend you trust – even if just by text or email – and if they ask you how you are, be honest. Let down your guard for a minute and let someone in. We need these connections, and they get so lost when we are in manage-the-mess mode.
- Set up Unroll.me or just unsubscribe from all the emails you don’t need to read right now. Who needs to deal with a full inbox when so many other urgent things need your attention?
What will you do for yourself and your messy life today? Leave a comment and let me know.