I made this dumb statement in my Time Management Tuesday post of two weeks ago: "I don't even know what else self-care would entail at this point." The me of 10 years ago, with a full-time job and three little kids, would wanted to have strangled the person who wrote that sentence. The me of 14 years ago, with two five-month-old infants and a four year, old would really have wanted to strangle her. Even the me of next January, working 10-hour days in the dark of winter, would want to strangle her.
I tend to think of "self-care" as things that would take place at a spa—massages, mud baths, face masks with cucumbers on the eye lids and soothing music—pampering the body, in other words, and, since I never even took the time to polish my toenails all summer, I don't allow myself much pampering.
But in addition to nurturing the body, self-care can encompass anything that feeds the spirit, as my long-time blog reader and cyber friend Rachel commented: "I'll just toss out what I consider as [self-care] (though I know you're not asking) ... tea, chocolate, walks in nature, conversation with friends, concerts and readings that fire me up creatively, foot rubs that I give myself, road trips."
I'd already gone for a walk that afternoon and figured out that walking outside on a beautiful fall afternoon is self-care, even if I made myself go out for exercise (walking outside on the ice in January, however, might be a different story). And though my cup of Sleepytime tea at bedtime is more than self-care, it's pampering, since C usually makes it for me, I'm hesitant to add chocolate to my list, because from there it would be an easy slide to a daily trip out for a cinnamon role in the service of treating myself. My ten-to-fifteen minutes of yoga every morning is self-care, even if I have to drag myself out of bed to do it. Going on a hike with a friend on a Monday is self-care. Watercolor painting and nature journaling is self-care. Reading in bed at night is self-care. Knitting is self-care (a friend recently posted on Instagram about all the health benefits, mental and physical, of knitting, and though I don't feel compelled to look it up myself to verify her facts, I'm convinced). Even watching television with one of my kids can be self-care, if we're relaxing and enjoying ourselves.
The fact is that for much of the year under my current work situation, most of my time is self-care. Writing is how I want to spend my time, even if it's a struggle sometimes. And though there are often niggling little tasks that I don't always feel like doing involved in the volunteer work I do for my nonprofits, I believe in their missions and derive a lot of personal satisfaction from giving them my time. I get to sleep in later than if I had to go into an office, I get to go outside when I want or take a long lunch with a friend. I've been known to blow off a whole day of writing and read an entire book.
So forget what I said about not knowing what self-care is. I'm living it, for now. And when I go back to work, I'll be sure to up the bubble bath frequency, and maybe paint my toenails one time before sock season fully sets in.