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Real Self-Care - Sitting Here Being Me!

The term “self-care” is so overused it’s nearly lost all meaning. It’s become a buzzword for marketing everything from overpriced skin care products to spiritual healing retreats in exotic locales. A Google search for “self-care marketing” produces a long list of product categories, including “Poop Stools.” (I don’t even want to know.)

Taken at face value, though, “self-care” simply means caring for oneself.

And caring for yourself starts with knowing yourself. Just as taking good care of a baby requires a basic understanding of an infant’s needs (nutrition, sleep, hygiene, safety, comfort, sensory stimulation, loving touch), taking good care of myself requires that I understand my own physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.

Knowing yourself is a life-long project—there’s always more to learn. Having lived in my body for more than 58 years, and as a sensitive introvert living with anxiety, I’ve observed some patterns. I’ve identified a few things that have a consistently negative effect on my mood and well-being:

· Dim light

· Harsh overhead fluorescent light

· Clutter; disorganized space

· Being overscheduled (e.g., back-to-back meetings, multiple social events on the same day)

· Uncomfortable, restrictive, scratchy clothing

· Being around people who are volatile and prone to anger and yelling

With that understanding of myself, here are some of my self-care practices:

· Spending time outside

· Keeping my home straightened

· Building alone time to rest, read, and relax into my schedule every week

· Developing a small group of kind, emotionally mature friends

· Arranging my home office so that I face the window and am exposed to natural light while working

· Avoiding big box stores

· Wearing lots of soft clothes like leggings, t-shirts, flannel, cozy wool socks; almost never wearing a bra

· Maintaining a stash of emergency dark chocolate

· Enhancing my physical space with fresh flowers, playing music, diffusing lavender oil or burning a patchouli candle

Note that most of my self-care practices are low- or no-cost. Taking a walk outside after work, loading the dishwasher, and then reading for 30 minutes are often the best things I can do for myself when I’m starting to feel overwhelmed. That shit’s free. (I mean, it could be free if I got books from the library.)

Your list could be completely different. Maybe for you, self-care means having a pet, going to the gym, or giving yourself permission not to keep your house perfectly tidy.

You do you. I’ll just be over here, sitting out on the porch in my comfy clothes with my book. Taking care of myself.

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