How to: Your Guide to Sustainable Self-Care
Self-care. Notably the biggest trend of the last 5 years. #FaceMasks, #SelfCareSundays, #TreatYo’Self...I am here for it. What I love even more is the conversations that have been created because of the push for “self-care”. It’s about more than the skin you wear, it’s about taking time to readjust your hardwire, check-in with the deepest parts of you and learning to say "yes" to things/people/ideas that fuel you (and "no" to the things that do the opposite).
One of my favorite self-care quotes is by Poet Lalah Delia. She writes “Keep taking time for yourself until you’re you again”. That’s the heart of this movement, isn’t it? It’s about fueling ourselves up so that we can actually show-up. Give the world our best. Not our forced smile, running on 12 cups of coffee, imposter of a self.
Going into this new year, I wanted to focus on self-care that is sustainable. Yes, sustainable often refers to things that are cruelty free, environmentally friendly, etc. And while that is included in what I mean, I also want to dig into self-care routines that have longevity. I don’t want us to feel good on Sunday night just to drag through the rest of the week.
I want us (as a community, as a society) to learn to heal ourselves and I believe that starts with sustainable self-care. Self-care that helps prevent burnout (instead of constantly playing recovery). Self-care that makes room for us to enjoy the life we have created for ourselves, not just hustle to death. Self-care that makes big waves -- life altering waves! -- in how we view ourselves, what we feed ourselves and how we treat others because of this radical love we now know how to give.
Sustainable self-care is my goal for 2020. If you are choosing to join in, here is what you are agreeing to:
- Learning to embrace every part of you along the journey
- Learning to curate experiences, hobbies and relationships that align with your deepest values
- Collecting growth experiences that ask you to forgive, nurture and have hope
- Becoming more intentional and deliberate about what you take in, who you buy from and how you use your resources
Why Self-Care is More Than Just A Trend
Self-care is arguably the biggest movement of the last few years. It’s a movement that I hope will be more than a movement. I hope it becomes a cornerstone of our society. I know that is a BIG hope, but hear me out.
If we as a society choose to embrace intentional self-care, that means we are also embracing conversation about mental health, work-life balance, natural skin care (allllll the love, 100% Pure), prioritizing needs, lowering consumerism and probably taking a step closer to being less judgmental of each other. That’s a movement I want to stand behind (and with and in and leave behind for future generations).
If we are able to embrace sustainable self-care (that is: self-care that is rooted in beneficial, long-term healing) as more than a flashy Sunday caption for the 'gram or a catchy way to get out of going to social obligations, then we might be able to start embracing health as a unique process, instead of a one-size fits all solution.
If you have been around here for a minute, you know that I believe in the healing power of foods and other natural solutions to complicated health matters. Even more so, you know that I believe in intentional natural practices to cure not only physical ailments, but ones that are commonly labeled off as “sickness of the mind”. This is why I care so much about the opportunity for sustainable self-care as a lifestyle for our society.
It’s about more than taking care of your aging skin. Yes, sometimes it can be really simple steps. Truly as easy as putting on a face mask and lotion socks. But I believe in taking steps towards sustainable self-care as a culture because it will heal so much more than our cracked heels.
If truly embraced, there is the freedom to lay down our need to live our lives for others. Release judgement of how our bodies were made and truly delight in ourselves (and others). Stop carrying burdens from the past and anxieties of the future, stop victimizing ourselves or playing weak to our own inner critic, stop partaking in trends that are harmful because our own insecurities lead us to debt and fast-fashion. Pick-up more joy. Pick-up more curiosity and exploration. Pick-up more love and clarity of mind. Lay down the need to impress and pick-up the passions of our own hearts.
How to Curate Sustainable Self-Care in Your Life
This is probably the most obvious and also the most difficult step. Learn to be intentional with your self-care. This means really going after it. This means taking steps to carve out time, energy, thought and resources.
A few tricks that can be helpful:
- Make regular appointments in your week that are specifically carved out for self-care
- Do one small thing a day that fuels you (this should cost little to no money...be creative!)
- Identify where it is that you most need care right now. Create themes for your self-care sessions that align with this need. For example: if you are truly hoping to love on your body and show it care, have your self-care sessions revolve around this. Go on hikes, research new workouts that make you feel good, spend time in the kitchen learning a new recipe, invite friends over for a healthy dinner that you prepared, go to a cooking class, journal about your favorite thing your body has done for you, save your latte money for supplements or a nutrition consultation...the possibilities are endless. The point is, identify where it is you need self-care the most and then be intentional with loving yourself in that way.
Self-care can be an instant fix, but I want to challenge you to think long-term about your sustainable self-care regime. This means that (most likely) your self-care shouldn’t be something that is ridiculously expensive, it shouldn’t be something that depends on others and it shouldn’t be solely based on consuming. All of these “types” of self-care have a time and place, most definitely, but we are talking big picture here.
Thinking long-term about your self-care means that you are going to be willing to do it, even when it tastes like steamed broccoli. It means that you are going to get outside because you know it will lift your spirits, even when no one is willing to go on that walk with you. It means asking the question “is what I am about to do going to have a positive impact in my life over the next hour, week, month?”.
Sometimes that can also mean treats and splurges, but I think your relationship with treats and splurges is actually a different conversation. #Self-care isn’t eating that chocolate bar. Having a healthy relationship with play and balance is derived from a flourishing lifestyle of “I know how to take care of myself”...and that means I know how to interact with treats and splurges. But the “treat” itself is not the self-care and so your self-care practice should not be limited to just “treats”. Are you following me?
Think big picture. Think about developing a well-rounded self-care practice (and relationship with yourself). Think sustainable.
Get to Know Yourself
This is part of practicing self-care that I commonly see clients struggle with. Why? Because we live in a society that is happy to tell you who you are if you do not take the time to do the dirty work yourself.
How many of us forget our hobbies in place of hours scrolling social media? Swap the books we love to read for the chance to numb our brain with TV that we don’t really enjoy?
How often do you ask yourself questions with real curiosity and open minded anticipation about what your response might be?
When it comes to sustainable self-care, it takes a developed (and developing) self-awareness. Continue to grow in your relationship with yourself, stay open to who you are becoming. Self-care takes curiosity, love and awareness.
Keep Yourself Accountable (and ask for help)
Learn to say no to self-care sabotagers. There was a period in my life that I would swear I was taking time for myself, but still I was running on empty and giving the rest away to others. Why do you think this is?
My time with “myself” practicing “self-care” looked more like hours of social media until I eventually passed out with my hand still in the bowl of popcorn. Just because you are dedicating time to yourself, be aware of what you are actually using this time for. Don’t be fooled by self-care sabotagers in disguise.
Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Is starting a new workout program part of your self-care game plan? Great! Ask a friend to go with you. Or better yet, join a friend who is already committed to going. Starting new habits can be difficult. Surround yourself with people who are doing what you hope to be doing. Don’t be afraid to be the “student” and ask for some help.
Practice With Others
The more we practice our desired way of thinking/being with others, the easier it can be to implement these practices when we are alone. I have a hard time believing that “you have to love yourself before you can love others”. Instead, I picture it as this growing tree inside of ourselves. We nurture this ability to love and we reap fruit from it. We learn to encounter love as we encounter others, and in-turn, we can learn new ways to love ourselves.
Similarly, we learn to love ourselves (nurture the tree) and we produce more love (the fruit that we then turn into fresh jam and give to our neighbors). It’s a balance. Don’t feel confined to loving yourself perfectly before you embrace those around you. The way you speak to them may come in handy when you are unsure of how to speak to yourself.
Self-care and love should be ever evolving and growing.
What to Consider for Your Sustainable Self-Care in 2020
Turning to things that fuel you
- Know the difference between "fuel" and "distraction"
- Make space to do BIG self-care things that will have lasting impact
- Try something new! Step outside your comfort zone, especially if you are having a hard time identifying what is "fueling" to you
Sustainable for you + the planet
- Make a habit of self-awareness and asking yourself questions
- Make a habit of giving and expressing care outwards/to others
- Make a habit of "checking-in" on your habits. We can't change what we don't acknowledge!
Books for your care
- Quite by Susan Cain
- Fear Less by Dean Sluyter
- My Friend Fear by Meera Lee Patel
- Resilient by Rick Hanson and Forrest Hanson
- Surprise Yourself by Lisa Currie
- Ikigai by Hector Garcia and Albert Liebermann
- The Conscious Closet by Elizabeth L. Cline
- Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100 Mile Diet by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon
- Plant Powered Beauty: The Essential Guide to Using Natural Ingredients for Health, Wellness and Personal Skin-Care by Amy Galper and Christina Daigneault
- Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin
I also made a Pinterest board with some of my favorite self-care quotes and routines. Check it out here!
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