Now if there is one skill I have lovingly crafted over recent years, one facility that I have meticulously cherished and allowed to flourish in all its egocentric glory, it is Self Care. That's for lots of reasons I guess . . .
Being a crazed, career-obsessed lunatic in my twenties
Allowing the needs and wants of other people to repeatedly eclipse my own
Spending decades obsessed with my weight and my apparent inability to eat like a supermodel on speed
Having and rearing two demanding boys evidently sprung from the hell fires of Mordor
All these reasons and more catapulted me into the world of Self Care and now I have made a cosy home there. I have FINALLY realised that if I don't feed my soul with what it needs, there's no way on God's green earth I can do the same for others (or God's blue earth, actually, as my oldest Lad would tell me during a two-hour rant regarding his new obsession with all things marine).
But is it just me or has anybody else noticed the humongous industry that seems to have sprung up around Self Care? I have been doing very well thank you very much, over the years, with my simple hot chocolates and my barefoot walks and my extra ten minutes in bed while the Lads scream at each other over Fortnite tactics. Why do I need to buy a load of fancy things to convince myself I am getting my full measure of the stuff? Surely this is a myth.
Should I buy forty-seven bracelets with positive affirmations emblazoned across them so that I can remember how freakin' wonderful I am? Do I need to have personalised, boxed meals delivered to my door because we all know what I cook repulses my Lads daily? Shall I jump on that 40-day shred fitness programme because the yoga and walking I do everyday just aren't cutting it? And the candles and the oils and the holidays and the energy bars and the flowers and the effing leggings in every effing pattern known to man, woman and child aren't currently part of my Self Care world so am I even doing this right?!
*shuffles to kitchen to brew vat of hot chocolate. Returns to laptop with said drink*
I guess what I'm saying is, don't be fooled. If you're going to spend your readies on anything remotely related to you caring for you, make sure it really does come from a place of caring. Something that already complements the things you KNOW make you feel good rather than something that you hope will transform you into a sparkling, effervescent body of ever-lasting love and light (we all know this can only ever be achieved by Kylie, so what's the point?).
Whilst money may sometimes be involved in the transaction of loveliness and the self - it doesn't always have to be so. There are a squillion ways we can get a decent inner glow without doling out. Running might be your thing (I have NEVER understood why, but each to their own) - free. An afternoon nana nap might float your boat - free. A long overdue chinwag with your bestie - free. Sniffing your child's head after their bath (please tell me I'm not the only one who does this) - free. Or a craftily chosen, loud and proud swear word screamed into the night sky in response to the wheelie bin shenanigans after a bank holiday - free!
It's really all about Awareness. Being aware of how you feel in any one moment and acting on that. Ok, so we can't always jump into a hot bubble bath when there are babies to feed or floors to vacuum or emails to send. But we can make a mental note to find time for those bubbles. Or slow down and breathe for a few seconds. Or ask ourselves, 'how do I feel right now?' and if the answer is 'fucking awful thank you very much', then Self Care needs to be higher on our agenda, in a way that doesn't drain our bank balance.
Typically, this time of year pisses me off. Yes, I am a mindfulness teacher and I help others how to find their inner resources of calm. But I am also human, am I not? And cold dark mornings, followed by cold, dark evenings do not the best Abi make. However, as Self Care is my thang, I've totally got it covered. For me, it's getting up early and doing a bit of yoga for FREE on the brilliant Yoga With Adriene channel. Followed by some meditation on the Calm app (also FREE). And then a creamy coffee in my favourite massive mug before anybody else can pinch it. See? Self Care.
I love Self Care. Because it is so personal and it is so poetic even if it does tend to involve rather a lot of Doritos or palming the kids off on somebody else for an afternoon. Yes, buy yourself something lovely from time to time (I've got a friend who's a sucker for the £1.49 bouquets in Aldi, and rightly so) but also tend to what's really going on with YOU. The idea that you have to have all these products in your life is a myth. Choose them well, if at all, and be safe in the knowledge that Self Care is just waiting, ever so patiently, for you.
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P.P.S. If you fancy a dip into self care through mindfulness, then here is a perfect (FREE) Breathing Space meditation to start with from my You Tube channel. Enjoy!