Back when I was a massage therapist, I was always pushing the necessity of self-care onto my clients. I thought that was what they needed to keep the aches and pains and strains away.
Even back then I knew it was a buzzword, but I strongly believed that it was something everyone needed to incorporate into their lives.
It’s taken me a little while away from that industry to see the faulty logic there. Self-care certainly sounds like a good thing, but the problem lies in the idea that it’s not something that is a part of regular life.
But the truth is that the care of the self should be woven into the fabric of our daily life. Our lifestyles should be a complete practice, from morning until night until morning again so that we aren’t someone who practices healthy self-care, we are healthy people who live a healthy lifestyle.
If we live in a healthy way, we won’t have a build-up that we have to finally release-whether that’s stress or muscle tension or whatever.
This is especially important for us moms, who need to “perform” at our bests everyday while simultaneously not having a lot of extra time to make that happen, and who can easily fall into overwhelm and frustration.
We need the integration for our sanity. We don’t need to go to gyms to workout, we don’t need to attend a yoga class to stretch, and we don’t need to break free at the end of the week to finally blow-off steam. Know what I mean? Daily life can be all these things.
So here’s what I’m suggesting: days that naturally incorporates movement, stress-relief, stretching, nourishment, joy, and creativity. These can all be done, even with a little baby by your side, and it’s actually incredibly easy.
It took me a few months postpartum to get back into this, but I’m totally a walker again. I wake up early and R and I go for 3-5 miles every single day.
Walking is truly an amazing exercise: It simultaneously loosens and strengthens the joints and muscles, gets the blood circulating, increases endorphins, gets you a megadose of early-morning Vitamin D, and releases tons of stress.
You have just got to move in a big way during the day, there’s no way around it. Carry your baby in your arms or in a carrier, or if you have a little one over 2 years who is slow moving, use one of these brilliant carriers.
Take a shower & get dressed:
So simple, yet so game-changing. I feel like a human when I do this in the morning instead of lounging in sweats. Listen to the podcast episode linked below to hear more about this.
Get on the ground:
I use a coffee table as my desk, so I am up and down and sitting in different positions on the ground all throughout the day. Our bed is close to the ground, and I’m on the floor a lot of the time hanging out with R when she’s awake.
I squat a ton instead of bending down, and stay in that position while I fold laundry or do other things that are close to the ground.
My floor desk also encourages lots of stretching and yoga poses and moving in-between positions. When I walk through the house I stretch my arms up and grab the top of doorways.
I carry R, alternating between picking her up and putting her down, and this is a great arm and should movement. I also use these balls (here) to roll out my feet all day long. It feels amazing.
This is huge, and something that is consistently forgotten for a lot of people. Don’t discount the importance of water.
Your muscles need it to stay hydrated, your blood needs it so that it can flow smoothly and efficiently through your body, your brain needs it for optimal function. I drink 2 quart-jars a day plus what’s in my daily smoothie, and this has single-handedly turbocharged my energy levels.
I heard an interview with a lady who talked about “fueling your hustle,” and as much as I can’t stand the idea of hustling, I loved the point she was making.
If I want to stay alert and feel great throughout the day, I have to be mindful of what I eat. I’m not spouting any individual way of eating, I’m just saying eat well. It makes such a difference. I’ll link the podcast episode below if you wanna listen to it.
This is sanity, and can be done while breastfeeding, during naps, or while watching the baby play. A daily practice negates any build-up of stress and tension, so you’re not approaching the end of the week tearing your hair out.
It’s amazing how the mental act of meditating translates into a looser and more relaxed body. You don’t need a big chunk of time, either. Five minutes, ten minutes, whatever you’ve got.
I struggled with this until around R’s five-month B-day when I finally felt strong enough to get out a walk for miles. Now that I’m up early and out before 7am, I wind down hard in the evenings and am asleep by 9 or 10 and sleep really well all night long.
(I do co-sleep though, and this helps tremendously because I don’t wake completely or get out of bed when R needs to eat)
Our spirits shrivel when we don’t create, so this has to be something that we do everyday. Now that I have R, I do most of my crafting and writing on the floor right next to her while she explores and plays.
I usually only get 10 or 20 minutes at a time to work on something, but that’s just fine. I’ve learned to take advantage of small amounts of time.
Read real books:
The more I choose reading real books over scrolling through the internet, the calmer and more grounded I feel. It is a rejuvenating, relaxing practice that I can fit in during nap times and right before bed.
So look, none of these are groundbreaking, but when you live your days like this, you’re going to feel gooooood. Like really good. Your body is going to be loose, you're going to feel well-nourished, well-hydrated, well-read, more patient, healthy, well-rested, and grounded in reality.
You’ll be living a life of self-care, not using it as a separate practice that you have to remind yourself to do. I’m a lifelong bath-lover, and it’s a huge stress-relief for me. I don’t consider it self-care. I consider it a thing I love and do on a regular basis.
I love alone-time, and make sure that I have some every so often. But I don't consider that self-care, either. It’s just who I am. See the difference?
You might say it’s semantics, but I say it’s a small shift in perception that makes a world of difference. Make your life a healthy one where you’re naturally moving a ton throughout the day, taking in good foods and liquids, and practicing short meditations to release pent-up stress, and you won’t have a need for “self-care.”
And as always, I’ve got some really good reads and listens for you if you want to go a little further with this stuff. Enjoy :)
Read: Movement Matters by Katy Bowman
From the book: “Each day, in addition to the tasks required for work, are those must-dos on my list: spend time with my family, educate my children, source wholesome ingredients, feed my family, move my body, move my kids’ bodies, and expose our bodies to nature (sunlight, the sounds of nature, temperature variations, etc.)
….When I look at these to-dos as a list, I start calculating the time necessary to accomplish them all. I require at least a few hours of daily movement. I need to shop and cook, which takes a couple hours as well. Playing games or reading books-designed with some learning schema for kids-can also take an hour to facilitate.
Right away, each day, I’m overwhelmed because I do not have the extra six hours in the day to facilitate what I consider to be essential tasks alongside the reality that I must work….Nature is a good teacher, and I have learned quite a bit about efficiency from observing it. In nature, functions aren’t plotted side by side, each holding their own personal space in time.
Nature accomplishes many tasks at the same time. With this in mind, I changed the way I thought about and scheduled my own life. Instead of breaking up my obligations and allotting time to each fractured component….I organized my life essentials so that the same portion of time fulfills multiple obligations. I call this way of relating time to essential tasks “stacking your life.”
Listen: The Easiest Form of Self-Care
Listen: How to Fuel Your Greatest Asset
Okay, now I want to know what you think. What are your thought on self-care versus a lifestyle that naturally cares for the self? Tell me in the comments below :)
And of you liked this post, be sure to check out: