I woke up this morning already feeling anxious. (Yay!)
My standard iPhone alarm is set for 6:45, but I prefer to get up a little before it and get some shit done. I am most productive in the mornings, and I like to ride that wave. It also means I can be at my coffee shop right when it opens. A positive of the pandemic is that most of the coffee shops on Main Street in Santa Monica are walk-up service right now (with a table at the doorway), so I can make walking Lucy in the morning a little less boring when it involves coffee.
But today I woke up right at 6:45, and it was well after 7 before I got moving, which made me feel behind the eight-ball already. I have a client at 10 and then a housekeeper coming for a deep clean, so I felt like I had a 10am deadline.
Seeing therapy clients (during a pandemic!) has really made me realize how important real and true self care is. I can’t be there for others if I can’t be there for myself.
Before 10am, I wanted to:
- get coffee and walk Lucy (non negotiables)
- and also go for a long walk!
- or work out
- call my aunt
- grocery shop
- get my 5 min of meditation in on the beach
- shower and dry my hair
- get some reading done for class
- and maybe catch up on my client notes
(I know that if you have kids or an intense job, it might be hard to do any of those things in the morning. I get really lonely as a single person living alone sometimes but there is absolutely a certain freedom to it.)
There was literally no way I could do this all before 10, and I started beating myself up for not being able to do those things. But I’m listening to the book Self-Compassion by Kristin Neff and learning so much about the weight of our negative self-talk.
It’s helping me be a little more present. On a run the other day, for example, I really noticed my negative self-talk, comparing myself to a younger, faster me who could run much more easily.
Meanwhile…I was out running. In a pretty gorgeous place. But I could have been anywhere because I was so in my head. We carry emotions in our body, and no wonder running feels hard if I’m carrying that weight of comparison. I reminded myself I don’t have to run, I get to run, and I reminded myself how much more enjoyable the run would be, if I could just be present through the shitty first 15 minutes or so AND when it felt good.
And I employed that this morning: a short workout is better than nothing, meditation is non-negotiable, I can order groceries online, I can compromise with myself by sitting outside on a park that looks at the ocean rather than on the actual beach (I know this last part sounds silly but it did save me a good 10 minutes when I was feeling stressed about time.)
Self-care is realizing that something is better than nothing. Self-care is not doing one of these things and beating yourself for not doing them all—or trying to race through a list of things meant to take care of yourself while not at all being present.
Self-care is not writing a post like this and talking yourself out of posting it because you think it feels silly in the scheme of things. Are these things I’m stressing out about inconsequential in the grand scheme of things? Absolutely—but this is just an example of how the self-talk about the small things can begin snowballing to the bigger things.
Self-care is writing a post like this even though it wasn’t on your little list of things you should be doing this morning to take care of yourself. It just felt good to write this this morning, and like with anything I write, if it helps one person a little bit, even better. Self-care is not doing all the things you know how to do to optimize this post but you hate doing.
What’s one thing you’re doing today to take care of yourself? Not because you feel like you should—but because you know it will just bring you a little more joy today?