Every September, after the back to school rush and preceding the next holiday season, I can feel like caring well for myself is a full-time job. Which is a little ironic, since I am a therapist who helps people care well for themselves year-round. I prefer to look at self-care as soul-care, as do many of my colleagues at Ebenezer Counseling Services. What are we doing to care for the deeper parts?
The term “self-care” is thrown around loosely these days—it covers any activity we do to deliberately and intentionally care for ourselves mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. While a leisurely scroll through Instagram may pass the time in the carpool line, I’ve done nothing for my soul, or the deeper parts of who I am. If I took that time to exercise or read a book, I would feed my physical and mental needs with an enriching, not draining, activity.
Artist Hannah Daisy developed the hashtag #boringselfcare on social media to show ways to care for yourself that are not glamorous. It’s unloading the dishwasher or preparing coffee; it’s putting laundry away and going to the doctor for a check-up. It doesn’t cost anything, other than a few extra minutes. In these boring ways, we are simply being considerate of our needs and our “future self.” When I make lunches (for kids and myself) the night before, I am so grateful when I stumble into the kitchen the next morning. I like to celebrate the mundane, daily victories of self-care with my clients, especially when they feel overwhelmed by their particular season of life.
Our routines and practices and preferences teach us about ourselves and reveal what makes us feel anxious or depressed when we pay attention. For example, some of my friends can operate on very little sleep. Not me! I need an hour to unwind before going to bed, then at least seven hours of uninterrupted sleep to function properly. Self, or soul, care is as individual as the person who needs it. Some women love to read; some walk and talk with a friend; some bake or craft; or do a tough exercise class. I often tell women who come to my office that caring for themselves is caring for their family because they will be better caregivers when their needs have been met, too. You might make a list or talk about how you feel after a certain activity, and enjoy finding out what works for you! s