Exactly a year ago, I was in a totally different situation, as were most of you. However, I was on my way out of a dark alley. The matter at hand was completely unlike what we have been experiencing these days; I mean, these are trying times.
And yet I feel like this moment is a tiny wave from old friends passing through. Not a hug, not a visit. Simply a wave. And it is simply that and nothing more because I've grown familiar to those old friends over the course of my life and I know very well how to keep them at arm's length thanks to all my past experiences and dare I say successes. Ding ding ding! You guessed it: my old friends are called Depression and Anxiety.
You probably know them, but if you're lucky enough, you've never crossed paths with either of them. Sometimes they walk by my house to simply remind me of their existence. Sometimes their stay is a bit more long-lived. But either way, with each time they make an appearance, the faster they vanish into thin air.
Unfortunately, I'm not here to hand you a step-by-step guide on making them go away —because they'll most likely pop in to say hi during self-isolation —, but today I'll talk about a single aspect I took on a bit more than a year ago that helped me out of that dark alley.
A self care challenge.
Hold on a minute. I heard that "here we go again with the facemasks and candles," that sounded in your head. We've been trained to think of the consumer version of self care as if self care was a synonym for indulgence because that's exactly where companies want our heads to go. It totally makes sense; think about it. Sometimes self care is indulging, but often times it is completely and absolutely the opposite. Self care is often going deep within oneself to clean up the nitty-gritty bits and do the things we've been avoiding. So I'm here to set the record straight and also hand you a worksheet to build your own 30-day self care challenge.
(I've written self care so many times, I apologize for these and the many more to come.)
I'd like to share an excerpt from my favorite article about self care by Brianna Wiest (2017):
"It is making the choice to build a life you don’t need to regularly escape from. And that often takes doing the thing you least want to do. It often means looking at your failures and disappointments square in the eye and re-strategizing. It is choosing not to satiate your immediate desires. It is letting go. It is choosing new. It is disappointing some people. It is making sacrifices for others. It is living in a way that other people won’t, so maybe you can live in a way that other people can’t... If you find yourself having to regularly indulge in consumer self-care, it’s because you are disconnected from actual self-care, which has very little to do with “treating yourself” and a whole lot to do with parenting yourself and making choices for your long-term wellness."
In other words,
Self care is not exclusive to only eating the cake but also having eaten your greens beforehand.
Self care is not exclusive to putting on a facemask but also getting to know yourself enough to understand why you need that time out in the first place.
Self care is not exclusive to unplugging for a single day but also regularly limiting your use of social media to avoid a sudden need to run from it.
Self care is not exclusive to pouring yourself a big wine glass but also comprehending that wine is something you enjoy and finding a way to healthily incorporate that into your life.
Self care is not exclusive to blowing off your limits now and then but also about setting realistic boundaries that keep you in focus while at the same time allowing you to explore and grow.
Self care is not exclusive to doing a 30-day challenge but it is a very good place to start, especially with today being the 1st of the month.
So now it's your turn: print the worksheet and arrange as many challenge ideas —that come in the second page— or your own into your calendar (first page), writing the date for each day. Don't be shy, put some more if you feel like doing two or three a day. The sky is the limit! I know most of us are not allowed outside, but most of the ideas on the list are home-approved.
Help me put in evidence to everyone that self care runs deeper than any pore-cleansing facemask.
Subscribe and get the free printable worksheet here.
I'd love it if you post an Instagram story with your very own self care challenge and tag me, so I can feature you. It would mean the world to me. You can find my Instagram at the header of this page.