Self-care is one of those words (or phrases? Not sure if it’s actually a word, but I digress), isn’t it? Everyone says it, it sounds amazing, but it’s anyone’s guess as to what it really means — especially on a day-to-day basis.
My self-care these days looks like constantly (and I do mean constantly) coming back to the question: “What would feel really good to do right now?”
Now before you get worried that all I do is have massages and naps all day, let me explain.
- 7:15am: alarm goes off & I hit snooze (repeat x2). I make the decision not to check my email until later (never easy for me!)
- 8:00am: breakfast with my hubby, taking care of the dogs
- 8:30am: To my office! And here’s where the feel good questions begin in earnest. I know, know, know that starting my day with a little yoga & meditation will feel really good — much better than starting with email. And I also know that I do have the time, despite my internal worrier telling me I do not. After a short internal struggle, I choose the mat and the cushion — and am glad that I did (of course).
- 9:15am: Computer time: check email and begin my ongoing sort process: answer, delete, save for later today, save for later this week. Quick stop by FB, Twitter & Google Reader.
- 9:45am: To-do list! (I use Toodledo and love it!) Do a quick gut check with each item. The ones that don’t feel good and aren’t time sensitive get moved to another day. I have writing on my list every day, but I just haven’t been feeling it much lately. I have a brief shaming conversation with myself where I tell myself what a terrible person I’ve become for dropping my daily writing practice. Then, because my inner critic has asserted herself so loudly, I see her message as the red flag that it is and give myself permission to do writing last today — if at all.
- 10:00-11:30am: Make headway on some projects, with brief interludes to FB, Twitter, Google Reader and the New York Times.
- 11:30am: Hungry — lunch time! I consider eating in front of my desk but then ask myself if that would feel good. Of course it wouldn’t, and there is literally no reason for me to, so I get myself settled on the couch and catch up on Scandal (sheesh that show is good!).
- 12:45pm: I let the dogs out and play with them a bit before heading back to work.
- 1:00pm: To-do list check-in time. Up next is a project I’ve been resisting for quite awhile. At first I think it would feel good to skip it again, but I close my eyes, take a deep breath and give myself a moment to actually feel it. And lo and behold, I decide it would feel good to finally get the ball rolling on this.
- 1:00-2:30pm: Get said ball rolling. Even turn on my Antisocial app to block my access to social media. Am loving feeling like I’m in a groove.
- 2:30pm: Break. I find I can only work steady like that for about an hour and a half before I need to get up, walk around, go to the bathroom, drink some water, check FB, etc.
- 3:00pm: Call with a sweet student. Hooray!
- 4:00pm: The debate is back: should I go to a yoga class, or should I stay home and work? Even though this seems like it should be a no-brainer, I almost always don’t decide to go until the very last minute. To the point that I am rushing around to get out the door. Definitely puts me in the yoga mood (not exactly). I check in again (I told you about the constantly thing, right?) and decide that yes, going to yoga would feel better than continuing to work (shocker, I know).
- 4:00-6:00pm: Drive to yoga, yoga, drive home. Amazing, as usual.
- 6:00-8:00pm: Catching up with my hubby, dinner, Daily Show, Colbert Report.
- 8:00-9:30pm: Respond to those end-of-day emails I’ve been filing away, puttering on social media, check a few easy tasks off the to-do list.
- 9:30-11:30pm: Getting ready for bed time: bath, journal, read, laugh at dogs, snuggle.
- 11:30pm: Lights out.
What Feeling Good Isn’t
Feeling good is another sounds-great-but-what-does-it-mean type concepts. It’s something that’s difficult for many of us to understand because it’s so far outside our cultural constructs on how we “should” prioritize our days.
I’ve had a daily practice of doing what feels good for close to a year and a half, and I’ll be the first to tell you that it isn’t always what you’d think. I still do stuff I’d kind of rather put off. And it’s definitely not all pedicures and lunches out (although there’s some of that sometimes).
What Feeling Good Is
I find that a commitment to feeling good is a fundamental commitment to trust. It’s trusting, on a sometimes minute-by-minute basis, that meeting my body’s needs will ultimately best serve, not only me, but also everyone around me.
Every time I take a step to do what feels good rather than follow the “shoulds,” I contract. It is not. easy. But then I remember that everytime I follow through on that step, I expand. I make more space for self-care, trust and exactly what I need.
I truly see this as my off-the-mat yoga (because on the mat is where I learned how to do this – making space and accommodations for my body and striking a balance between effort and ease in each pose). It’s constantly (there’s that word again) coming back to my body and breath, ahimsa and svhadyaya. Feeling good.