What My Self-Care Practice Really Looks Like

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.


perfectlyimperfectProbably the easiest way to explain this is just to give an example. So here’s a quick peek at my day yesterday:

  • 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.

This post is part of the fabulous Mara Glatzel & Tamarisk Saunders-Davies‘ Perfectly Imperfect Project: Real Self-Care. To read all the inspiring posts in this series, please click here.

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