True tea: sometimes I suck at self care. I feel like nowadays I share a lot of my successes and, while I’m not sorry for that, I worry it might look like I have somehow achieved self-love or am always on it like a car bonnet with my self care. I’m not, and that’s ok.
At the end of January I realised my overwhelm was not coming from external factors but from a list of daily self-care activities I was telling myself I must complete. I’m pretty competitive and, one could say, obsessive about completing tasks so checking off all my self care routines each day turned into something of a ‘thing.’ Fortunately I realised that the feeling of overwhelm was entirely unnecessary.
I was able to check in with myself and remind myself that there is no failing at self care and that those boxes are just things that are good to do as often as possible, not a hard and fast rule with a pass/fail grade. The key to letting go of that overwhelm though, was recognising my self care hierarchy.
Yoga: my non-negotiable
Some self care is non-negotiable. For me that’s yoga. If I am sliding, feeling I can’t do anything, lacking in energy, can’t be bothered, the one thing I ask of myself is that I get on the mat. I have discovered that, now my yoga practice is coming from a place of self love, simply rolling out my mat & spending even 5 minutes taking care of my body makes a huge difference to my mental health. It’s also something I find it easier to push myself to do when I do start struggling; it doesn’t seem as daunting as other tasks.
Next up is meditation. This is new addition but I’m already finding it incredibly helpful and, while not a non-negotiable just yet, it’s definitely number 2 on my list. I aim to do it in the morning, giving myself some time before I turn my notifications back on & get lost in the trash fire that is the news cycle. If I can’t manage it first thing, I will do a short meditation in the evening. Honestly, it is hard for me to convince myself to take 5 minutes to sit & do literally nothing in the evening though. Really hard.
Self care you can sacrifice
Then we come to self care activities that I am willing or able to sacrifice. When overwhelm hits I will take everything else off my to-do list. Everything that is not absolutely essential; gone. That means showering, altar time, reading (which is a thing I’m working on doing again), journaling, all immediately off my list.If you are struggling with overwhelm please, if you do one thing, remove everything non-essential from your to-do list. Click To Tweet
I remove them not because they aren’t helpful or good for me, but because if I feel overwhelmed I can’t do anything. And doing only the absolute essentials is 100% preferable to doing literally nothing.
I have also discovered, through trial and error, that if I prioritise showering I will more than likely not do anything else and only feel marginally better. If I prioritise other things I may feel better but then I don’t have time to do anything else (I tend to spend over an hour at my altar or journaling). Whereas getting on the mat, in itself, is such a powerful reminder that I choose self love, and stretching my body is obviously great too, so I tend to find that yoga gives me such a lift that I then feel more able to do other self care activities which then make me feel even better.
My self care suggestion
Work out your hierarchy. Write it down if you need to. Make a list of things you do, or want to do, that are self caring for you and then figure out which of them is the most helpful. What, when you are struggling, is the most nourishing for you? Maybe it doesn’t stop your slide into darkness completely, maybe it takes every last drop of energy you have, maybe it isn’t the thing that’s supposed to help, it doesn’t matter.
If dancing round your garden at 3am with your chickens is the thing that brings you joy and you can push yourself to do it even when it’s hard, do that.
If it’s phoning your friend, or listening to your favourite songs, or doing a breathing exercise, or writing down how you feel, or going for a walk, or making a nutritious meal, or having someone hold you while you cry, or purposely colouring outside the lines in garish, clashing colours in your very expensive colouring book. Do that.
Find your non-negotiable and make it non-negotiable.