Cindie Chavez ⓒ2018
On the evening of November 8, 2016, I had a bottle of good champagne on ice preparing to celebrate the election of our first woman president. Spirits were high as we settled in to wait for the moment we would celebrate the most qualified candidate in history become the first female leader of the United States. At some point in the evening, we started getting nervous. We joked that if Madame President didn’t win we’d need to go back to the store for a case of hard liquor. I still remember the sinking feeling as the margin between the candidates started looking very narrow. As the night wore on we were stunned to realize this was no joking matter.
Of course, it’s all history now. We eventually opened the champagne for another small family celebration, and no, in case you’re wondering we did not actually run back to the store to stock up on hard liquor. Even so, I will admit that I’ve probably poured a few more than usual in the past 18 months. I’m reminded of Bill Maher’s joke relating to how stressful things feel since Trump has been in office – “Ask your doctor if day drinking is right for you!”
All joking aside, distilled spirit sales in the U.S. hit a record high in 2017. And my guess is that the sales are continuing to climb right along with the frustration and angst over the current state of U.S. and world affairs.
Here’s the thing that keeps rising to the surface of my thought processes – when the world is on fire we need to take care of ourselves. And as dramatic as it is I keep thinking about Sarah Connor in the Terminator movie franchise, definitely looking like someone who was taking care of herself – “There’s a storm coming.”
Which brings me to my topic: Self-care – It might not be what you think it is.
Centuries ago “self-care” actually referred to a philosophical idea – knowledge of self. This might include knowing your principles, knowing your core values, knowing who you are at the soul level, being confident of what you believe and why. Taking the time to read, study, ponder, and learn, prioritizing meditation and musing – these were the avenues to self-care. It was important to “know thyself”.
Nowadays we most often hear about self-care from life-coaches, and personal development blogs and women’s magazines – all encouraging us to take good care of ourselves – and as Wall Street joins the chorus we’re often encouraged to accomplish this “self-care” by buying more stuff. (“Because I’m worth it!”)
As a life-coach, and a personal development fan, the topic of self-care comes up frequently in my conversations, and I admit that in the past I’ve probably been guilty of lumping a bunch of stuff into the “self-care” category that might not actually belong there.
As much as I love a manicure (and I REALLY do love a manicure) – mani-pedis actually fall into the category of “pampering” – right along with bubble baths and fancy moisturizers and sheet masks and ultra conditioning hair stuff that smells like bananas. These are all things I regularly use – and I enjoy them immensely. So, I’m not judging – go ahead, slather it on and choose a pretty color for your nails. And while you’re soaking in that bubble bath take a few moments to ponder what is truly important to you. Because the world is on fire and you need to know what you stand for.
Besides soaking in a tub full of bubbles, I also love Belgian chocolate, cafe au lait, cut flowers all over the house, good lipstick, high-quality perfume, candles, fine crystal, filet mignon and a good gin & tonic. Luxuries, yes, and I indulge in quite of few of them on a regular basis. But still – they aren’t really self-care. Self-soothing is a skill we need, and sometimes self-soothing includes indulging ourselves. But it isn’t always the healthiest choice if the thing we choose to indulge in is actually a choice to numb out. Moderation is the key. Have a chocolate. Have two. And then, let’s talk about awareness because it’s important to be aware instead of numb when the world is on fire.
Let’s be frank, if self-care could be accomplished with a bubble bath and a good G&T I’d be a whole lot healthier, because that would be a whole lot easier than doing the actual work of taking good care of myself. True self-care takes effort, awareness, and a big dose of grace and kindness.
And I get it, when things feel hard sometimes all we want is for things to feel easier – and sinking down into the couch to binge on Netflix and Cherry Garcia is pretty easy. Indulging eases the pain for a while. But then…
Then we wake up in the morning and hear the latest news. Burn baby burn. Stress at every turn. So, we need to take good care of ourselves because self-care is important when the world is on fire. And right now, it’s getting pretty hot in here.
We KNOW that stress is the cause of most health problems. And when the daily news is serving up a never-ending buffet of stress, injustice, and WTF – that’s when we need to be strong, healthy, clear-headed, sober, vigilant, and aware – all things that true self-care fosters and supports.
True self-care supports us at the foundational level – that part of our being that underpins everything else we create and experience. It starts with awareness. Know thyself is a very appropriate direction here, because knowing what we need to function at an optimal level is very personal. Knowing ourselves well enough to discover how to meet our own personal needs takes some time and effort.
Of course, as humans, we all have pretty much the same basic needs to tend to, and these basic needs are a good place to start in our search to understand how to take the best care of ourselves. Let’s start here:
Enough sleep – Sleep deprivation is a form of torture (can you tell I’m not a fan of “6:00 am boot camp” as self-care?) Deep sleep that includes dreaming, is necessary for optimal health. The right amount of sleep varies from individual to individual – but experts say adults need 7 to 9 hours each night. Here are some great tips for better sleep hygiene.
Enough pure water – after all we humans are about 60% water – and remember, thirst is not always an adequate indicator of dehydration. Starting the day with a full glass of water first thing upon waking is a good habit. Your body has been sleeping for 7 to 9 hours (right?) and is ready for some hydration at this point. Continue to drink water throughout the day.
The right nutrition – this is very personal. Knowing yourself here is essential. Eating the right amount of the right foods for you can be a learning curve. Listen to your body.
Enough movement – walking is great, and dancing might be even better – in fact, recent studies show that dancing is so good for our brains it’s now being used to help treat patients with Parkinson’s disease. Political marches are good for moving the body too, (just saying – and remember to stay hydrated).
Reading and learning new things is a key component of personal development. And, especially right now, expanding your understanding of the world and of current events is important. Included in this is knowing your rights (which could be the ultimate in self-care when the world is on fire).
Meditation, prayer, spending time in silence, allowing yourself to ruminate on what you’re thinking and feeling – these are essential to self-knowledge. They are also important habits that relieve stress and bring about peace, harmony, and confidence. Knowing your own personal core values will improve every aspect of your life. Here’s a great resource for discovering your core values.
Learning to say no is part and parcel to good self-care because people-pleasing behavior is not healthy. When I was a young wife and mother I would say yes to anyone who asked anything of me unless I had what I considered to be a “valid” excuse. One day I finally learned that sometimes just not wanting to do it was enough. I could say “no” and didn’t have to have an excuse. I am an adult; I can make my own decisions. I’m not in fifth grade and I don’t need a note from my parents when I want to say no.
Learning to say yes is also important. Saying yes to win-win situations supports our own sense of value, as well as our need to contribute. Contribution is a basic human need (however, over-caring and over-contributing is usually indicative of people pleasing behavior and will eventually create resentment – which is stressful and causes other health issues. Learn what works for you.) Both saying yes and saying no take practice. This will strengthen your own sense of personal power.
Create something – by nature we are creative beings, so using your creativity in whatever way you enjoy most can fulfill the basic human need to be creative. (Perhaps you’d enjoy breaking out the poster board and painting a sign for the next time you move your body in a march? Remember to stay hydrated.)
Bubble baths and sparkly manicures are two of my favorite ways to pamper myself. I hope you allow yourself some pampering, too. It’s good for the soul.
Chocolate and a good glass of pinot noir are luxuries I’m fortunate to enjoy. I hope you get to indulge in some luxuries you enjoy, too. Variety is the spice of life! Try something new!
“Know Thyself” might just be the very best place we can start in our journey towards better self-care. Start with the basics – get enough sleep, drink enough water, get the right nutrition, take time to learn, read, meditate, ponder, and create.
And remember to be kind to yourself. Because it’s important to take care of yourself when the world is on fire.
More by Cindie:
Cindie Chavez is known as “The Love & Magic Coach”. She is the creator of MOONLIGHT™ – A Course in Manifesting Love and she has some great free stuff for you at her website: www.cindiechavez.com
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