I am feeling the irony of getting up extra early this morning so that I can squeeze the writing of a Self-Care blog post into an already over-scheduled day. But isn’t that just what we do? Isn’t this why we need to draw attention to those two little words self and care, with the hope that we will turn off the busyness, even for just a few moments, so that each of us may realize that, yes, this applies to me too?
My first challenge is just getting my mind around that. I am well-practiced at being a care-giver. I just never see myself as needing my own attentions. I treat my car the same way, and I suspect, without all the sensors and electronic reminders on the dash, I maybe would just keep driving it until it stopped! The other catch is that as soon as life gets really crazy, or tragedy strikes or I just get propelled off my mark by the unexpected twists and turns that make up our existence, self- care is usually one of the first things I throw out the window. In survival mode, I am trying to get control of the wheel, concentrating on the road ahead. There is no time or mental space for spa treatments or anything remotely relaxing and yet, that is when we need to take care of ourselves the most!
So in order to get the self -care I need, I do what the car manufacturers did in the form of beeping blinking seat belt signs and bright red “check engine” lights. I routinely remind myself to get out of my head, to slow down, to breathe and relax. I programmed my phone to send me little reminders throughout the day to “smile” and “breathe”. The sticky notes on my kitchen window sill direct me to look out the window while washing dishes and prompt me to recall that the present moment is indeed a wonderful one.
I also have a few unshakable habits which keep me grounded. I see the sun rise every morning and witness its setting every day. I try to do this in a mindful way and for the effort, I have been present for some spectacular shows. For me, it is about gratitude and I list either mentally or on paper three things I am truly grateful for at the beginning and end of each day.
And I walk. The health benefits are similar to those of other more intense forms of activity, in addition to all the stress-relieving deep conversations, laughter and pure joy of walking with friends, surrounded by the sounds and colors of early morning.
The important part is, of course, the commitment. I follow the seasons and set my alarm for the early pre-dawn hours every day (and ok, yes, sometimes I am tempted to crawl back into bed 5 minutes later). My walking date is a permanently blocked time on my agenda only rarely postponed by the most extreme weather, illness or crisis.
So gradually self-care becomes habit; an integral part of the way I live life each day. It is a powerful stabilizer no matter what the details of my life look like at any given moment and well, just helps me loosen my grip on the wheel, sit back more often and enjoy the ride.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Shelley Buisson lives on 9 acres in rural North Carolina. She drives many miles per week teaching music to families in their homes. She is a permaculture enthusiast, so when not in her car, she can be found working in her “ trial and error” garden or mothering her small flock of laying hens. Shelley is an enthusiastic volunteer at Abundance NC ‘s fabulous events and a board member.