The Misconception of Self Care

I grew up in a somewhat chaotic household. My mother divorced my alcoholic father when I was barely three, and being a single mom, did her best to hold it all together with two small children, and one teenager. I was born in a VERY rural part of Northern California on a small ranch. My parents had one of those toxic but entangled relationships, which my mother did her best to shield us from. Nevertheless, we moved many times before I turned 7 (I’m still not really sure why), and my mom held THREE jobs to support us while my father went off the proverbial rails.

All that sharing to paint a picture of a woman who to this day struggles for order and calm. I’m still unraveling why I can’t seem to keep all my stuff put away, my severe aversion to balancing a checkbook and many other basic life skills most people seem to have mastered.

…self care doesn’t have to mean lavish trips to the nail salon, spa or shopping mall…

Like many people who grew up with chaos and / or addiction in the family, I’m a perfectionist-turned-procrastinator. If I can’t do it right the first time, I’ll put it off. It’s maddening, and the concept of ‘letting go’ is a daily practice.

Another side-effect from growing up in chaos is a generalized lack of self care. The preoccupation with keeping order around me means I don’t take care of myself the way I should. I’m still working on boundaries, which seems to be a life-long learning process—taking care of other people’s shit seems easier.

I’m also learning that self care doesn’t have to mean lavish trips to the nail salon, spa or shopping mall. For me, the most effective forms of self care have been taking care of the things that make my day-to-day life easier—and therefore more calm. When I’m more calm and centered, I can show up as a better person for my family, my clients and for the things that matter most!

One small example for me is ironing. I know I’m a little bat-shit, but I cannot hang wrinkled clothes in my closet. Every few weeks on a weekend, I break out the ironing board, put on a good Doris Day movie and get it done (or mostly done…). It’s a small gift I give myself—clean, pressed things to wear in the morning—that makes me feel a little more on top of things.

Nourish yourself, care for your environment, enrich your mind, speak up for your preferences and I promise, a more Bliss-filled life awaits!

Here are a few ways you can practice self care that won’t cost a dime, and are sure to bring a little more peace to your life.

5 Totally Free Ways to Practice Self Care in Real Life

1. Declutter your house and keep it that way for a week. Just practice it. Seriously. My husband and I scrubbed our place from top to bottom this weekend, and it’s amazing the energy that it cleared. I got two checks in the mail, a creative project I was stuck on opened up in an amazing way, and my emotional well-being has improved significantly. Stuff piles up and adds to your mental list of things to do and keep track of. When you clear space in your environment for life to happen, amazing things show up. Why? Because there’s room for the Universe to bring you all that you have wanted.

Start small and organize one area you use daily. Is your makeup drawer a wreck? Does stuff fall out of your medicine cabinet every time you open it? Do you swear at the kitchen cupboards every morning because you can’t find what you need? Fighting against your household—especially in the morning when you’re trying to get out the door—creates a huge amount of daily stress. Honestly, it will take a half hour to clean out a medicine cabinet, trashing all the old stuff, and organizing the things you do use daily. Every morning when you get your toothbrush out and are welcomed by a clean, organized, happy space, you’ll thank yourself! This applies to your car, your desk at work or any space in your life that’s making you crazy.

That piling-up mental list I spoke of earlier? Jack Canfield calls it the Annoyance List. Write down the things you think about every day in the back of your mind—crap, I need to fix that, pay that, order that—etc. Annoyance List items are a form of mental clutter. For the next week, take care of one of those annoying things each day, and watch how your well being improves.

2. Plan ahead a little and cook some things for your weekly meals. Start small—bake a few sweet potatoes and some chicken breasts on Sunday to take for lunch throughout the week. Boil some eggs. Cut up vegetables for snacks, etc. Not only will you save yourself weekly time, but you’ll end up eating healthier, instead of binging on cheese slices and spoonfuls of Nutella because you’re starving and lack inspiration to pull a meal together.

3. Move your body. Get to the gym, take a yoga class or get out for a walk. Movement improves your brain function, elevates endorphins, and increases creativity. Your body was meant to move, and starts to break down when it doesn’t. Not only will your future-self thank you, but you’ll feel better immediately.

4. Practice radical honesty. Holding back your feelings, or saying you will do something when you really don’t want to builds up toxicity in your mind, body and heart. And it’s not very kind way to treat yourself. Speaking the truth doesn’t mean randomly hurting people—it means standing up for yourself.

Don’t want to go out on that date? DON’T GO. And be honest about it—don’t make up a story about why you can’t go. Do you catch yourself sacrificing unnecessarily in order make someone else happy? STOP. Speak up for your needs and preferences. Make sure it’s a win / win. There’s a saying that you don’t have to light yourself on fire to make someone else warm. Stop doing it—it’ll take a huge load off your heart.

We’re so entrained as a culture to be polite, and many, many times, politeness is dishonesty. We sabotage ourselves, our life and sometimes even the lives of our children for the sake of being polite. Does that mean you should start picking out people’s flaws as in the movie Liar, Liar? No, of course not. But it does mean checking in with your heart (gut) to make sure you’re in alignment with your source. The Hawaiians call it pono. To be pono means to be in the right, or in righteousness with the High Self. Does it feel good to say yes? Or does it feel like a black bag of sand in your gut? Let that be your guide. It takes practice, but well worth the results.

5. Spend time with friends—people that lift you up. Positive social relationships are nurturing in countless ways. The number one risk for suicide is a lack of community. We are communal creatures, and while alone-time is good, getting together with a friend (or group of friends) is an instant mood-boosting exercise. Host a small brunch or dinner party. (Ask everyone to bring a dish!) Get out for a group hike, or pull together a bowling team. Allowing yourself to have more fun is an incredibly caring thing to do.

I would encourage you to treat yourself as you would a beloved friend. Nourish yourself, care for your environment, enrich your mind, speak up for your preferences and I promise, a more Bliss-filled life awaits!