Much to my chagrin, I’m realizing that self-care is practiced moment by moment. Self-care is not a checklist, or a strategy, or a plan to follow. Yes, you can make checklists and come up with strategies and follow the plan, but they will not always work. There will be times when the strategies you’ve so lovingly devised and pointless in the face of today’s very particular set of challenges. And when that happens, it becomes very clear that the answer is not so ‘simple’ as following a prescribed set of behaviours, even if you’re the one who prescribed them.
Instead, it becomes moment by moment. Instead, we take action, pause, integrate, reassess. We ask ourselves “how do I feel” and “how about now?” and “was that helpful?” over and over again. We figure out what we need in each moment, and try our best to give that to ourselves. We don’t think about all the moments to come, just the one we’re in. We take it bird by bird. We lead with our gut.
This ‘strategy’ of checking in constantly works every time. My intuition never leads me astray, even when it’s hard to hear it or when I’m feeling lost and confused about my next moment’s steps. Eventually my gut allows me to pivot and change course if I make the “wrong” decision in any moment. It leads me back to what feels good in this moment, and that one, and the next.
The only problem with this way of practicing self-care is that it requires us to suspend our self-judgment. It requires us to take our thinking minds offline, to shut up our inner critics, and to argue with our own sense of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, ‘productive’ or ‘lazy’. Or is this just me?
Yesterday I declared it a personal admin day, but I couldn’t focus on anything. I was trying to ‘be productive’, but I was exhausted, and more than that, emotionally depleted. I needed to rest. I didn’t know how to rest. Maybe if I just went grocery shopping…?
Once I got out of my own way and cut out my self-judgemental bullshit about what I really needed, I had a very restful day journalling, reflecting, sitting in the sun, and watching a few too many episodes of Scandal. It wasn’t a ‘productive’ day in the typical sense, but it was the self-care that I needed. And today I woke up earlier, feeling more energetic, and with the bandwidth to handle the day to come. What do you know?