Let’s just take a second and talk about the term self-care. It gets thrown around a lot. It gets thrown around as this “thing” you have to do, something else for you to add to the to do list. It gets thrown around as a thing for you to try, like something shiny and new that you have purchased online and can’t wait to try it out. It gets thrown around as a should. How you should do certain self-care tasks, how you should devote a certain amount of time to it each day, how you should make sure that you are doing specific tasks, routines and rituals. In many ways, self-care has become another thing that we need to add to our agenda or planner so that we can check it off each day. It is another task.
And while I’m all about the importance of making time for looking after ourselves, making time for giving ourselves the extra little bit of love and care we deserve, there’s so much out there about the topic and how to do it and what to do (or not do), that sometimes it seems like it is just another overwhelming thing we have to sort through to try to figure out. And then by the time we do that, it’s like “well there goes the 20 minutes I had set aside for my self-care routine!”
But maybe it’s not about self-care, as much as it is about self-maintenance. Maybe it’s not as much about these one-off things that we consider a “treat,” or a “must do,” as much as it is just a passive action. Like brushing your teeth. That’s self-care; but we don’t think about it like that. We think of it just as daily, necessary maintenance and proper hygiene. But that’s what self-care is: the maintenance of life; helping us stay healthy, happy and able to carry on each day doing the things we love or the things we need to do.
It’s time to stop upholding this self-care pedestal and start seeing it as just a real part of our every day, as opposed to a carved out special thing or time or event. The same as eating and brushing our teeth and going to bed.
If you’ve been feeling like you don’t have time for self-care because you don’t have time for these fancy massages and heated oil treatments and spa days, it’s time to make the transition from self-care to self-maintenance. It’s just about maintenance. And in the process of maintenance, you prolong and improve, and isn’t that what we are trying to do with self-care anyway?
The reality is it can be really simple. Drink more water. Have a handful of greens. Go outside. Breathe in fresh air for five minutes. Light a candle and sit in silence. Sure, go to the spa, or have a massage, but don’t let yourself become trapped into thinking those are the only ways you can show self-care. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Start now with the transition and by next week, you’ll be in the throes of self-care via self-maintenance, and by default, self-love!
3 Steps to transition from self-care to self-maintenance
- Do it now – If you can do it in 5 minutes, do it right now. Part of the reason self-care gets turned into a big event is because we think that we need some big open-ended block of time to do this self-care thing. And who has that in their schedule? Because most of us don’t we push self-care to the bottom of our list. And then it becomes that thing that is always stuck on your to-do list, making it, again, more complicated and turning it into a bigger issue than it needs to be. Just do it now instead.
- Do it at home – As soon as we factor in the need to go somewhere for our self-care routine, it becomes way more complicated than it needs to be. Sure sometimes it is nice to get out of the house and treat yourself to an afternoon at the spa, but most of the time, it’s not reasonable for our bank account or schedule. Instead, run yourself a nice bath at home; drink some tea outside in the garden; buy a DIY face mask when you’re getting groceries and lie on your bed reading a magazine while you let it sink into your face. There are so many fun, quick and relaxing things you can do at home that you can also do on a regular basis, to maintain your healthy self!
- Do it alone – Part of maintaining yourself is knowing yourself. When was the last time you sat in silence, alone, with just you and your thoughts? Do you regularly spend time by yourself? Do you always rely on other people to do things with or take the initiative in organizing things? Self care is about you as your self. Come as your. Start from here, from now. As well as being great for your physical self (think exercise, more sleep, improved skin), doing acts of self-maintenance alone is great for your emotional self. It’s an amazing way to understand yourself better, appreciate yourself more and be more confident in who you are and the self that you are trying to maintain or improve upon.
There will always be a time and a place for a big fancy self-care session, where you go all out, treating yourself to a massage, and a pedicure, followed by a scheduled mid afternoon nap. But self-care can also be way simpler than that. Self care is about the maintenance of our self.