Why Radical Self-Care Isn't Just An Activity: It's A State Of Mind

Sometimes self-care isn't about an activity, it's about our frame of mind. This was a shocking revelation for me!

Self-care for me usually involves eating healthy food, exercising, spending time laughing with friends, practicing yoga, enjoying nature, having fun with my family, acting, writing, and getting adequate sleep. Basically, it means doing the things that make me feel happy and alive.

For the past two months I've been doing these things with real commitment because my world has been rocked, both literally and metaphorically. Last month, my family celebrated my grandfather's life at his memorial service. I was very close with him, and my heart broke when he died. I'm still grieving. A few weeks ago, my country was hit by a major earthquake, which left me and my family in disarray and angst because we were not together when it happened.

No matter how much self-care I practiced, though, I couldn't seem to shake this sinking feeling in my chest. I didn't feel peaceful and content. Each moment I found myself in silence or stillness, heartbreak and exhaustion would well up in my chest. Worst of all, I could feel myself slipping gently into a deep place where there was no light, where I felt defeated and had a desire to give up.

All that changed this morning, though, from a seemingly trivial decision!

Are you ready? Here it is...

I decided not to walk the dog to school with my kids.

That's it.

Self-care redefined itself for me this morning. It slapped a whole new meaning in my face, and I got the message.

Sometimes self-care isn't about anything other than making the choice to put yourself first. It's about your frame of mind; it's about empowerment as much as it's about routine and important activities you like to do; it's about you choosing you.

Self-care at this level can be difficult, especially for parents and anyone responsible for someone else's well-being. We feel obligated to take the best possible care we can of the people around us. Although we do a kick-ass job of it — AND still find time to make it to yoga class, spend time with friends, and grab catnaps when we can — we can easily fall into a pattern of thinking the self-care we're practicing is for ourselves.

In reality, it often comes from a place within us that believes we must take care of ourselves so that we're healthy enough to care for others. This belief simply isn't healthy. For a do-er like me, it can be not only a slippery slope, but also difficult to detect or bring to consciousness; it can be in shadows until we recognize it.

My decision to leave my pooch in her crate this morning helped me realize that it was OK for me to practice self-care solely for the purpose of cultivating my own happiness. It was OK for me want to ditch my responsibilities for 10 minutes. It was OK for me to want to have some silence, some time to just be with myself and acknowledge all I have been through these past couple months — the anxiety, the fear, the grief. It was OK for me to give myself time and space.

That walk was fantastic, and I felt fabulous during the entire thing! I reclaimed myself, my healthy sense of entitlement, and most importantly my genuine, heartfelt feelings of gratitude and contentment. I found myself again, and I was so happy!

What do you for self-care of your frame of mind? Does your usual routine involve making choices that help bring you the happiness you deserve?

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