When we’re young, our parents take care of us. That’s the deal – we are adorable and precocious and loving, and our parents wipe our tears and bandage our boo-boos and generally tell us that we’re the best thing to happen to the world since sliced bread.
When we grow up, go to college, move out, our parents still take care of us – when we are hurt or need to get our wisdom teeth out, they make us chicken soup and always say yes when we need someone to drive us home from the doctor. When we come home for the holidays, they cook and make a fuss about our ever-changing lives and hug us. And if we’re very lucky, they take care of us in a myriad of big and small ways every day – spending time with us, helping us out financially when we’re in a tight spot, and always encouraging us to be ourselves no matter what that looks like.
We all have varying degrees of comfort with asking for help and care from our parents. Some of us expect it and take it for granted, some of us are awkward and shy. But one thing is always certain: that this is normal, to ask for love and receive it unconditionally from one’s parents.
If we are able to accept that love and that help from an outside source, what happens when we extend that love to ourselves from somewhere inside us?
Here’s what happens: we become someone overflowing with love and energy. We can then channel that energy into positive growth.
I have always been the kind of person who pushes against my own limits. More accurately, I’ve always been stubborn and angry that I have to have limits, that sometimes I just hit a wall, that I can’t keep going forever or always always always do better. Sometimes I am guilty of being that person who is so busy or angry or tired that I forget to eat (which of course only makes it worse). Sometimes I used to even deprive myself of good things intentionally if I felt like I hadn’t “earned” them.
But there’s one thing I’ve learned that tracks with me along pretty much everything I do now – that we need to reward ourselves just for existing every day! I can’t stress enough how much self-care is an essential part of reaching any goal. When you are feeling down on yourself, do something nice that makes you feel more positive and more courageous. When you are feeling discouraged, do something that reminds you of everything you’re capable of. And when you are just down in the dumps, do something that makes you smile.
Here are some of my favorite self-care methods for when you’re at home and need some comfort or some reassurance:
- Make and drink a steaming cup of good-smelling tea! Pick tea you love the smell of. My current favorites are Numi Moroccan Mint, Trader Joe’s Pomegranate White Tea and Yogi Egyptian Licorice.
- Take a nap. We don’t always have the opportunity to do this, but on weekends or days off take the opportunity to allow yourself to sleep as much as you need. Try to wake up early and take a short nap in the early afternoon, around 1 or 2. I’ve noticed that my optimal nap time is 1.5 hours – something about REM cycles or whatnot. Test it out – see what nap length makes you feel the least groggy and the most energized.
- Call a lifeline. Call someone who makes you feel so good about yourself, who loves you unconditionally. This might be a parent, a sibling, another family member, or a friend. I’d recommend calling as opposed to anything else, even if you’re not much of a phone person, just because the connection is so immediate – you call and they pick up. Hearing my sister’s voice after a long day tends to make me feel like I can conquer the world.
- Take a moment to scan your body. Do you have any pressing needs? Are you hungry or thirsty? Does anything hurt? Do you need to shower or pee? Take care of those needs as soon as you can and I promise you will feel some relief. Revel in taking care of your body so it can take care of you!
- Don’t push. This is a little more of an abstract self-care tool, but – notice when you are resistant to something. If you can probe that feeling and move past it, awesome. But don’t push! If your resistance is there and it’s real, accept it. It’s probably there for a reason.
- Put on something that makes you feel SPARKLY! Wear your favorite dress or a jazzy suit for when you go out to run those errands. Put on sparkly eye makeup and sit down to your computer with some pizzazz. Put on your favorite, most brightly-colored workout clothes and maybe that’ll help get your booty in motion.
- Crank up the tunes.Sometimes when stress is all around, the best way to care for and nurture yourself is just to LET IT GO! I love to dance it out – pump up whatever gets you going and move yo’ body. Here are some of my faves:
- Crank DOWN the tunes! Sometimes silence can be such a gift to yourself. Pop in those earplugs, sit back and relax.
- Laugh at something. Laughter is PROVEN to be good for you. Plus, don’t your abs hurt after laughing too much? That means it’s working. 😉 Take a break from being 100% “serious business” and let yourself relax. It’ll energize you for diving back in later on.
- Spend some time with a cute animal.
- And if you don’t have one of your own, here is my Pinterest board. Ya welcome.
- Make a list of things that were good about that day. I always get a little annoyed when someone tells me to write a “gratitude list.” Like, “this is a list of all the things that I should be grateful for or else I am an ungrateful hussy.” No, I write lists of things that make me happy, even if it’s something fleeting. Like if someone smiles at me on the subway – that makes it onto the list. Or if I make a really awesome collage that I love, that goes on the list. Or I eat some fresh-baked bread – yup, that’s on there. It’s a way to tally all the good things that happen to you during any given day, and know that they’re there even if you’re demoralized about something else. That, my friends, is real gratitude.
- ABOVE ALL ELSE: TELL YOURSELF THAT YOU LOVE YOU! We don’t compliment ourselves nearly enough. Take a moment, tell yourself how much you rock, and do your best to believe it.
Even when there are other sources of nurturing and love in our lives, it’s our job to also take care of ourselves. And the more we can love and cherish and pamper ourselves, the more amazing things we will be able to go out there and create.
How do YOU take care of yourself? Please share!