Way back in 2015, I wrote a blog post about radical self care. People seemed to dig it.
In retrospect though, I’m not sure I fully understood what radical self care even was back then. But seven years (!) later, I have a better understanding, (and more experience actually doing it) so it felt like a good time to revisit the topic.
Put on your own oxygen mask first
Most of us know what self care is, (whether we actually practice it or not is another story!)
It’s the tasks you do to make yourself feel stronger, clearer, happier, or healthier so that you have the bandwidth to then, in turn, care for others, (as well as the tasks you do simply because you are a lovely human who deserves to be taken care of!)
Self care is doing things like going for a walk, taking a bath, doing a hobby, or going on vacation–any act that recharges your batteries and helps support your mental, physical, or spiritual well-being.
However, sometimes we use our self care practices to mask, escape, or avoid bigger problems in our life. For example, no amount of soothing bubble baths will make your crappy boss less crappy. To actually address that problem, you may need to do something more radical, (like draw a boundary with your boss or change jobs.)
Radical self care is about getting to the SOURCE of the stuff that’s draining you and requiring all those walks and bubble baths. It’s about treating the disease not just soothing the symptoms.
To be clear, that’s a tough project to tackle when you’re exhausted, depressed, or angry, (which I was when I wrote that post back in 2015.) Sometimes basic self care is all you can manage, and that’s OK. Ultimately though, it can be helpful to have BOTH types of self care in your life–the basic stuff to fill up your tank, and the radical stuff to help you drive far, far away from the source of your suffering.
So what if, for the next 30 days, you focused on making time for both? What if you made the radical choice to invest in yourself, even at the expense of your immediate comfort, in order to find more self compassion and well being?
Wanna try it with me? If so, here are some ideas…
Some regular self care ideas
Only YOU know what makes you feel better, balanced, and peaceful. But below are some ideas of basic self care practices you might want to explore in the coming month. No need to do them ALL. Just explore.
- Take some sort of digital sabbatical. This could be for a day, a weekend, a week or the whole dang month. Cut loose whatever digital habit are holding you back the most, (whether that be Candy Crush, Facebook, playing on your phone when your kids are around, or Netflix binges.)
- Reach out to people who make you feel good and set up times to get together with them, face-to-face or virtually. TELL THEM how much they mean to you.
- Engage in a daily writing habit. This could be keeping a journal/diary, gratitude journal, or writing morning pages. If that feels too overwhelming, just start by logging a single sentence.
- Make a playlist of music that makes you happy and listen to it. Don’t put it on in the background while you multitask and do other stuff. Just sit and listen to the music and enjoy it.
- Move your body, however that works best for you. Try something active every day, even if it’s just five minutes.
- Take a few minutes every day to close your eyes, calm your thoughts and your nervous system, and get quiet, (whether that’s meditation, prayer, etc.)
- Slow down and really notice the world around you. Eat more slowly. Walk more slowly. Schedule less in your day. Fall out of love with the cult of busy.
- Take a day off and go do whatever makes you happy or schedule/take a vacation (NOT a staycation where you rest but also knock out a couple of household projects.)
- Make that doctors appointment you’ve been putting off. That mole that looks weird? Time to check it out. That mammogram or colonoscopy you’ve been avoiding? Put it on the calendar. That exhaustion you’re fighting on a daily basis? Address it.
- Play with your kid(s), with your pet(s), or with a friend. Get down on the ground or get messy. Be fully present, (not like, “this will make for a fun share on Facebook. Let me try to snap a picture”) and fully occupied in the moment.
- Purge your house of things you do not use or love, thank them for their service to you, and then give them away.
- Try a new hobby or activity, even if you think you’ll suck at it. Add some novelty into your life by experimenting with something unexpected.
- Skip the news and read inspirational books instead. Hell, read ANY books. Books are good for you. Hit me up in the comments if you want some recommendations.
- Go outside and get some sunshine. Literally stop and smell some flowers. Opt for a walking meeting with a co-worker. Dine al fresco.
Some more radical ideas
Ready for something a little more radical? if you’re feeling brave and healthy, pick one thing from the list below and give that a try in the coming month, too.
Remember, radical self care isn’t always fun to do, but it can be seriously life-changing.
- Forgive yourself or the person you have beef with. Let go of the notion of who “won” or “lost” that fight. Take all your grief and anger and let it out. Have a good cry. Scream into a pillow. Write them a letter (you don’t have to mail it.) This isn’t your baggage to carry anymore.
- If you’ve behaved in poorly in the past or present, accept it, apologize for it, and decide to do better next time. If the people you hurt are still mad at you, make peace with that. You have no control of other people’s feelings or actions, only your own.
- Address something toxic in your life–a practice or person that it actively causing you pain or harm. Maybe your task this month is simply to admit it’s toxic. Work up to setting boundaries with them or cutting them loose.
- Let go of limiting beliefs about yourself, (e.g. that you’re ugly, that you’re not successful enough, that you’ll never find love.) For example, you can write those thoughts down on a piece of paper and then destroy it, (burn it, rip it up, toss it in a river. Whatever floats your boat.)
- Sit with discomfort for maybe 30 minutes. Are you really sad or pissed or hurt? OK, just sit there and FEEL it. Don’t pick up your phone. Don’t clean the house. Simply let all of those yucky sensations flow through your body and react to them however feels natural. (Repeat as necessary)
- If you’re struggling, hire someone to help you do some radical work. It doesn’t matter if it’s a therapist, a mentor, a coach, a trainer, or a healer–the point is to make an investment in yourself. Think you’re not worth it? Well, then ask yourself, “When will it be appropriate to make myself and my needs a priority?” Sit with the understanding that there are no assurances that you’ll be alive on that date you’ve chosen.
Happy healing, friends
If you are game for this challenge, choose some projects, write them down, and share that list with others to hold yourself accountable.
Then, beginning August 1, start radically caring for yourself, however that looks for you!
I’d love to hear how the challenge goes. Feel free to leave comments below or connect with me via social media to share your thoughts.
Good luck! I hope you have an amazing month.
Photo credit: Adrian FernándezUnsplash