When you need a break, feel depleted or would like a pick-me-up odds are it’s time for self care. What is it for you--a bubble bath, a night out with girlfriends, being alone in a book store? These timeouts can be hard to come by, but oh so wanted. The goal of which is to recharge our minds and bodies so we can continue onward. They can certainly be restorative. But has your self care practices ever left you with the residual feeling that it wasn’t long enough—that time was up before you were ready? Or have you experienced underwhelming self care because the pressure to relax during that designated time kept you from actually doing so? Inevitably the allotment ends and you re-enter your role as a mama and many others, ready or not. The tally marks that added up to needing self care time are erased and you instantly begin accruing again. And the cycle goes on and on.
Is there a way to elongate self care’s impact so we’re not so starved for it during our dry seasons? While your staple self care practices are helpful and have their place, they're just a band-aid--a temporary fix--as demonstrated by the need and desire to have more. But, it’s possible tweaking what we know self care to be and approaching it differently would make a difference in how replenished we are.
Instead of naming self care as an isolated event, reframe it to be an ongoing process. An active and attuned process. A process that ironically calls for more work than rest, more push than release. Self care is just that—caring about yourself. And we best do that through personal development. By shedding what we want and sharpening what we do, we become more ourselves and more able--having the power, skill and means to…continue onward. Yes this type of self care is effort and might be disincentivizing for a demanding life. But these personally improved areas could better preserve and fulfill you than any one event. Your self care may call for respite in the usual sense, but again, it’s merely temporary. Mamas, we need to be after what’ll gift us extended rest and what’ll offer us a reliable strategy to handle life—becoming the most ourselves.
So how do we identify where to begin this important work of optimizing self care? Contemplate personal areas that bring uneasiness—the reason behind the detachment to something or somebody signals room for growth. And also consider your areas of comfort—the casualness of habit and monotony may mean there are opportunities for healthy disruption.
Self care becomes more substantial and more influential when we see the bigger picture and act on it as a long-term investment. Imagine how much heartier your “mamahood” would be if we decided to connect, not disconnect—to place personal growth before a generic timeout because we know that is ultimately more fruitful. Please get in your naps and walks outside, but call them supplements—not fundamentals--to your self care. Self care is so much more than that.