Think about how wonderful it would be to fill even a small portion of your day doing something for you! Maybe you’ll consider taking a long bubble bath (I mean from 30-40 minutes), scheduling a massage, not setting your alarm on Saturday or Sunday and sleeping for an extra hour or two, or simply allowing yourself to spend a few hours over the weekend watching your favorite reruns on TV. You’re probably thinking “Who has the time to do that?” But I am here to tell you that if you are ever going to have the time for yourself, you must make the time. It won’t just happen. I know from personal experience.
When it comes to self-care, we must confront some destructive cultural beliefs. Many of us grew up in families that viewed self-care as selfish, self-centered, or just for the wealthy. Our beliefs can be so powerful that, if challenged, we go on the attack, almost like a mother protecting her young. Have you ever said, “You don’t understand, I don’t have time to do that for me… don’t you know I have to be there for my kids, my spouse, my job, my customers, the neighbor’s dog? You just don’t understand.” Well if those words have ever come out of your mouth, I get it. But what I also get is that life is short.
With that being said, I invite you to temporarily suspend your beliefs about self-care. You’re invited to take a walk along a lake, a mountain path, or just a pretty street. Pay attention to what surrounds you. Drink it in—the beauty, that is. Or consider an emotional splurge, for example get a manicure, a pedicure, or facial; consider a movie with a friend; what about spending an hour just playing with your cat or dog or bunny; what about reading a comic book for fun. There are any number of things you can do just for yourself. And don’t think this is just for women, it’s for you guys too! If you’re not accustomed to doing something for you, then this practice might be a bit challenging, but worth the effort. If you are already used to pampering yourself, then try something new.
Here are some things you can do for yourself —if you choose:
- Every day this month, take thirty minutes for quiet time. A daily spiritual practice of quiet time creates a balance between the doing and the being aspects of your life. Thirty minutes of quiet can also set the tone for an amazingly productive day.
- Occasionally spend an extra fifteen minutes in bed after your alarm goes off. You don’t have to do anything, just lie there. Think about how good it feels to really experience your bed and not jump out of it when the alarm goes off. Maybe even love on your cat or dog while luxuriating between the sheets.
- Take a day to go on a retreat. This could mean a day without running errands, checking e-mails, checking voicemail, or doing fix-it projects around the house. It could also mean a day where you simply take a walk in the park by yourself and set a spell. Don’t forget to drink in your surroundings. Appreciate the beauty that surrounds you. That is part of the process.
- If you can, schedule a massage. If money is an issue, then call a local massage school to find out what student services are offered to the public. There are always cost-saving options if we look for them. Also, sometimes you can get a great deal on massage on a site such as Groupon.
- Why not try something really bold? For women, go to the cosmetic counter of your local department store and sign up for a free makeover. If you are a man, go to your favorite men’s store and buy a new shirt or tie. Step outside of your comfort zone and try a new color or pattern.
So, I encourage you to make time this month for self-care and self-exploration. It’s critical to a healthy mind, body, and spirit. When we focus on self-care, it reduces stress, increases energy, and makes us look and feel better. Also, we discover things about ourselves that we never could imagine.