We talk a lot about the importance of self-care. Chances are you can list many of the components of self-care – adequate sleep, a healthy diet, a healthy balance of work and play and so forth. The components become a mindless mantra on what we know we should do, but somehow never get to. Life and work seem to get in the way. We go to what’s quick, easy, and feels good versus what we “know” we should be doing. We do a lot of thinking about self-care, but the doing gets put on tomorrow’s to-do list. Essentially, the idea of self-care becomes a philosophy more than a practice.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines philosophy as “a set of ideas about how to do something or how to live.” Practice is “to do (something) regularly or constantly as an ordinary part of your life.” We need both the philosophical underpinnings and the practice of self-care in order to reap the benefits. It’s when we neglect the practice that we most feel the effects of stress in the form of illness, burnout, mental fatigue, or anxiety/depression.
If this resonates with you, you are not alone. Like many others, we find ourselves sick of talking and thinking about self-care and feeling awful. Whether it is a physical illness, a spiritual crisis, an emotional issue, or mental exhaustion; it becomes apparent something radical has to happen. We need to do something different now. This is radical self-care. You’ve moved from maintenance to survival mode and it is a crucial turning point. Here’s what you can do:
Start with the radical part.
Radical means something new, different or out of your normal day. It’s shaking things up. It is also relevant. One person’s radical could mean having oatmeal for breakfast instead of the long-term habit of skipping breakfast. For another person, radical could mean taking off work early to get a massage. Someone else may decide to go on a silent retreat Whatever it is, you’ll know. It will be slightly uncomfortable because it is new and different.
There is calendar space, physical space, mental space, and energetic space. Radical self-care requires all. Block off time on your calendar to spend time in a healing space. This could be a yoga studio, a massage room, a garden, a museum, or any number of soothing spaces. To create mental space, practice mindfulness or simply let yourself unplug without screens or devices. To create energetic space, try taking 2-3 breathes before responding or making any decisions. This helps you to check in with yourself about what you are willing and capable of committing to in that moment. Reiki is another way to help open up energetically.
The more you move, the more space you will create. Movement can be slow and big like Tai Chi or fast and strong like running. Yoga will support physical and emotional movement, helping you to stretch into new areas. Whatever you choose, move with intention, even if it is going for a walk.
In her book Rising Strong, author and researcher Dr. Brené Brown teaches living BIG – Boundaries, Integrity and Generosity. Radical self-care means setting boundaries, which can only be done with integrity (staying true to who you are) and having generous assumptions about others. We can’t be generous to ourselves if we can’t be generous with others. Living BIG means asking ourselves, “what boundaries to I need to put in place so I can work from a place of integrity and extend the most generous interpretations of the intentions, words, and actions of others?”
Radical self-care requires repetition. Unfortunately, it’s not a “one and done” deal. Because it’s a practice, it is not about being perfect. Practice means that you will falter and make mistakes. Start small and work your way up. This is about creating something sustainable, not becoming an overnight success.
Get support and accountability.
Radical movement needs reinforcements. The mind is naturally efficient and will try to pull you back to old habits – the philosophy versus the practice. Be sure to elicit the help and support of others. Who can you find to do some of this with? Who lifts you up? Consider professional support. This could be a trainer, a health coach, or even a medical provider or therapist.
This is the time. No regrets, no looking back. You can either keep thinking about self-care or get BIG and make a radical decision to practice self-care. We’re happy to be a support and know you can do it!