Welcome back! Ok, let’s get to the how. How else was I to infuse my life with sustainable self-care aside from identifying the “who’s.” While I love schedules and routines, I found it incredibly difficult to “add” things in. Bubble baths and manicures sounded wonderful but really aside from bathing our kids in our bathtub, I have not actually taken a bubble bath in our fancy new master bathroom even once since we moved into our house, over 1 year ago! While I love, manicures, pedicures, and massages as self-care, I found it wasn’t regularly sustainable. So, I decided I would have to make use of the things that I already had in my life and upcycle them.
I identified opportunities for self-care experiences, no matter how brief that already existed in my daily life. I bought my favorite tea (vanilla bean macaron!). It’s a bit expensive, but just the name makes me smile on the inside. Why didn’t I have more vanilla bean macaron tea in my life? Not only did I buy what feels like a never-ending supply, but I now leave it out on my countertop so even when going to the kitchen for something else, I am briefly reminded of the wonderful flavor, the experience of drinking and smelling it, and the moment of calm and reflection that I allow myself to experience when engaging with it.
Seeing the box has been paired with a moment of mindfulness, a moment to take a deep breath and smile a little on the inside. I know, I know, it seems a bit corny and pavlovian dog, but pavlov’s dog type associations are powerful, sustainable and effective! Encouraged by my success with vanilla bean macaroon tea, I decided to intervene with other naturally occurring activities. I replaced my boring Dove dry skin body wash with “coffee coconut dreams.” If showering anyway, why not make it the most pampering and gratifying experience. The more places I looked in my life, the more organic, brief, repeatable and naturally sourced moments of self-care presented themselves. Vanilla bean macaron tea, coconut dreams body wash, my beautiful vibrant but soft throw that I regularly drape over my feet while seeing patients, artwork on my walls that invoke a sense of peace and calm, amongst other things have become ordinary staples of self-care—primed experiences and moments that allow me to take a breath, to feel good, create a small space for myself and feel cared for.
Finally, no discussion about sustainable and naturally sourced self-care can be complete without a discussion about gratitude. The act of gratitude is finding everyday things in your life that you feel grateful for. Gratitude is a personal emotion—often used in the context of guilt and in comparison to others. This kind of gratitude is not a tool in self-care but rather hinders our own mental freedom. When we can see and experience gratitude, without comparison or in relation to those around us, that is where the real gifts of gratitude show up. Our brains as human beings are hardwired to look for the problems, look for the deficits, to look for the work and the progress that needs to be made.
Self-care in this respect is giving ourselves a few moments to recognize the things in our life that we feel good about, the things that make us feel safe, secure, and happy—kind of like wrapping our brains in a proverbial self-care blanket. A few moments of giving myself a break from the constant hustle of life and focusing on the very real things around me that make me feel nurtured (as a bubble bath might) has been the most effective, sustainable, self-care tool. My day always feels lighter, more balanced, reflective, and positive when I have allowed myself a few moments to jot down 2-3 things I feel gratitude for, as self-care.
I am happy to report self-care is a more regular part of my life now although I am constantly making improvements! I wish you luck on your self-care journey! Feel free to comment below with any self-care tricks and tips you have discovered. I would love to hear from you!
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