As a work-a-holic with anxiety I wonder some days how I don’t live on coffee and valium. There are days I’m ready to run away and join the circus because I think a circus would be relaxing compared to my life. Between my business, my kids and a husband who is constantly traveling for work, at the end of the day I’m tanked, and not the fun kind like in my 20’s. As I've gotten older I've realized how much of my days are spent taking care of everyone else. I’ve also come to realize how necessary is for me to also take care of myself, for my sanity and the sake of my relationships. Over the last couple of years I have started making self-care a priority and when I’m consistent, the positive shift in my life is prominent.
A few months ago I read an article that classified the self-care trend as frivolous and useless. I was instantly infuriated! Self-care is not frivolous, nor is it a luxury, it is a necessity. As I’ve mulled it over since, I’ve come to realize many people don’t understand what self-care actually is. In this article the writer spoke of self-care as getting manicures. Well, if you like manicures then that may be the perfect act of self-care for you, but not everyone is going to resonate with that.
The point of self-care is doing something for yourself. Something that brings you joy. Self-care doesn’t just help us on the physical or mental level, it also helps us on a spiritual level. It helps us get out of our heads and connect with our soul to find some semblance of peace in our day-to-day crazy.
Only days away from 40, I can see the necessity in taking time out for myself to simply slow down and enjoy the simple things. Last week I was in a haze of busy and my daughter begged to go to the park. I was reluctant, but in these Arizona summers, mornings are all we have for outside playtime. We spent about 30 minutes on the playground and then she noticed the park sprinklers were on. She wandered over and I watched her watch the sprinklers. Slowly she put her hand out to touch one. The force of the erupting water shocked her and she looked back at me with wide eyes and a huge smile. She then stuck her foot in and before I knew it I was pulling her back from planting her entire body in front of it. She continued playing in the water, splashing in the puddles and feeling the water droplets raining down on her. Watching the joy of her discovery and playfulness brought me a profound realization, I am desperately missing fun in my life. And with it, I am missing incredible moments to live in the now and enjoy my present.
As we get older, life gets more complicated, emotional, stressful, painful…and we lose joy in simple things. We focus on the future or re-live the past, forgetting about the importance of the now. The aspect of fun gets more daunting and we need things like alcohol or thrill-seeking to help us feel joy again. Yet fun and joy are right there in front of us, in our present, and self-care can help us connect to those emotions in a healthy way. Anymore, I have to schedule self-care, but I know I need it. Some days I do my nails, because it helps me feel more feminine. Other days I watch a movie with my kids and cross-stitch instead of getting on my computer. This past Saturday, my husband told me to take a day for myself so I spent several hours at Hobby Lobby, my happy place. Some days I go to yoga. And some days, I just sit and watch my kids play, reveling in the fact they are happy, healthy and finding their own joy.
No matter what chaos unfolds around me, I know I always need to make time for myself. I know I need to make time for things that bring me joy and help me disengage from the stresses of my day-to-day. Things that help me re-connect with my inner-child. Maybe help me feel more feminine or strong, playful or youthful…whatever I need that day no matter if it’s cocktails with friends or sprinklers with my daughter. Life doesn’t slow down it just gets faster. Opportunities for self-care and enjoying my present pass me by like freeway exits at 90 m.p.h. amidst all the chaos, I have decided to make self-care a priority. And with it, a renewed purpose to live in the present, have fun and find what brings me joy.