People talk a lot about self care these days and it’s often in the context of remembering to do something relaxing and/or refreshing in the wake of our busy, busy lives.
Just finished a big project? Get a massage to relieve the stress. Or better yet, order takeout. Self care.
The kids getting on your last nerve? How about a bubble bath and a glass of wine? Self care.
Feeling overwhelmed with all that life is throwing at you? Download an app and take back control. Self care.
But are we really taking care of ourselves or falling prey to yet another marketing scheme?
Self care has become a $450 billion market, complete with projection guides and strategies for companies looking to capitalize on our need to feel calm amid the chaos. Commercials for mindfulness and meditation apps are now as prolific as ads for big pharma. And just like big pharma, there’s the promise that “one pill” will cure all ills.
Self care is not something that comes in a bottle nor can be controlled by an app. Self care is not something that you fit into your schedule. It’s not a reward for a job well done (or just a job done for that matter). Self care is taking a holistic approach to your own life and living each day in accord with those things that bring you joy, happiness, good health, and a true sense of being well. Self care is allowing yourself to question the world around you and accept or reject its tenets at will.
Is that big project really where you want to spend your time?
Would the kids be getting on your nerves so much if your time together was not so harried and rushed?
Would life be all that overwhelming if you knew and felt that you were in control all along?
Time is a resource more precious than gold and I’m not sure we should be spending it on things from which we need to recover, especially when the method of recovery is being sold to us. Now, that’s not to say that there won’t be things that happen in our lives that will require extra care of our bodies, minds, and souls, but for the sake of this post, I’m strictly talking about the things we choose to do with our time.
When I started questioning our routines a few months ago, it was because I felt constrained. I felt that every day was a repeat of the same play list with the occasional new track mixed in for good measure. Though we had personally selected it, the loop was growing tired, and neither of us was making much of an effort to change the channel. Self care marketing told us that we needed to adopt a new exercise routine, start using a meditation app, or go out for a “date night” to bring new life into the routine. Real self care showed us that ditching the thing altogether was the better play.
It was our time. Our most precious resource. The only currency that once squandered couldn’t be earned back. So, we decided to invest it more wisely is all of the wonderful things that really do bring us joy, happiness, good health, and a true sense of being well.
This is self care, and I promise you, the investment you make will pay huge dividends.
This summer (and in all the months beyond), I encourage you to explore what brings you joy. Find the things that you want to spend your time on and “buy” them in abundance. For us, it might be a day by the water, an afternoon in the kitchen, a picnic in the park, a stroll through the Farmer’s Market, a burst of creativity, reading a good book in the breeze, playing with the kids on the Slip ‘N Slide, or yes, even sometimes watching The Blacklist and arguing over who’s been right all along 🙂 For you, it may be all manner of different things. Whatever your happiness is, embrace it. Time is not a currency that can be banked for later.