Notice your response as you read those words. What type of thoughts do they bring up? What feelings arise? How does your body react? There are no right or wrong answers.
Prior to learning how to take care of myself and feed my heart, mind, and body with boundless compassion, “self-care” sounded like a hippy-dippy excuse for not working as hard and as much as possible. When barreling through the burnout is the cultural norm, it takes an incredible amount of wisdom and integrity to practice self-care.
Self-care is the pause. It’s the complete exhale that allows us to soften deeper inside of who we are, what we believe, and what we want. It’s an active choice we make to offer ourselves healing through compassion, understanding, and empathy. And it can look like whatever you want it to look like.
If you’re well acquainted with the hustle-and-grind energy of cities like New York or professions like acting where it seems as if taking any sort of break will cost you, the very idea of slowing down to take care of yourself feels antithetical. Which leads to a friction: body, mind, and heart sense that a pause needs to happen but the pace of the world around us says otherwise.
So how do we navigate this friction?
Shout out to Chance the Rapper for his insightful and spot on tweet: “canceling plans to read is ok. skipping a party for the gym is ok. staying home to cook is ok. lets encourage it & respect self improvement.” [sic]
It takes a ton of courage to do the opposite of what’s popular and so solidarity helps. Find a group of like-minded individuals who value taking time for the whole self to recalibrate. It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself an artist—every single human can benefit from the daily choice to recalibrate. THIS is self-care. We tune into the intricate workings of our energetic world. We find alignment by doing something that brings us joy without attachment to outcome. In “The Artist’s Way,” Julia Cameron talks about the artist date. This is a self-care practice. Take yourself on a date. Get your nails done. Go to that museum. Roam a bookstore.
As a yoga teacher and mentor, when my clients are having a particularly rough day I ask them to brainstorm with me. We come up with a list of actionable items to help them feel the ground beneath their feet and the air in their lungs and the heartbeat in their chest. As interests change or develop, we modify the list. It’s something we can come back to every day to show ourselves that we matter, that we are worthy of a pause, that we deserve to be loved.
A list could look like:
- Listen to your favorite song
- Turn the lights off and dance
- Focus on breathing
- Make a cup of tea
- Read a passage from your favorite book
- Take a stroll by the water
- Walk through the park
- Cook or bake
- Do yoga
- Go upside down for a bit
More than anything, these lists are a tool. They offer activities we can choose to fill our days with. Imagine if we actively created space in our lives for even one thing that brought us joy every day. How much more present would we be in the world when it mattered most?
We live in a wellness boom; information pouring in from so many digital sources makes it hard to sift through all of the content to find gold. Like the beginning of any journey interacting with self-care in a conscious way for the first time can feel overwhelming, so start with one small action you can take every day to offer yourself a moment of surrender. Give yourself the opportunity to pause, to re-tune to your truth, and in the process cultivate a more joyful and resilient way of being.
What are the ways that your offer yourself that sigh of relief? What is the hardest part of self-care for you?
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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.