Extraordinary self-care is a mantra of mine, though that fact shouldn’t create any assumptions about my ability to practice it. It’s rigorous stuff, at least for me, requiring constant self-examination toward clarity about energy investments, about healthy foods and fresh air and exercise, about motivations that are often unconscious, driving us rather than the other way around. About passionate pursuits that may be healthy, or not. About down time!
Can you relate? If so, take a memo: my super-healthy 76 year-old fitness trainer dad, still at his weight-lifting workout three days a week, likes to joke people into clarity. There’s the ever-ready, “take a lesson from whoever said if I’d have known I was gonna live this long, I’d have taken better care of myself”, and a personal fave of mine, the always slightly comforting and shocking, “Teresa, make no mistake about it: these (the new empty-nester early ’50s phase) are your Golden Years.”
So what might the essential elements of extraordinary self-care be? Here’s my list. Let me know what you think we should add to it.
- Be ever aware of the uniqueness of your particular journey. Take things in stride. It’s all fascinating!
- Pay close attention to what energizes you and makes you happy, and dwell there. Is it a form of work? A form of play? A relationship? A belief or value system? Is it healthy? Does it wish the best for others and applaud it in them? If so, go for it.
- Eat well. I mean really. Fresh, local, light, energizing food and drink make a difference, and you deserve it. Eat less rather than more in affording and honoring quality food. After all, food is pleasure as much as anything else. Choose your food pleasures as fine, precious bites, knowing that a diet slightly under what Americans generally consume in daily calories is highly conducive to longevity.
- Get regular fresh air and exercise, not in a nebulous way, but really. You’re worth it.
- Rest. Sleep. Sleep in. Turn down the shade, turn off the alarm, take some real time to renew your energy and perspective. (I know it’s tough. Just figure it out. DO IT.)
- Have a regular practice of self-renewal. Is it yoga? Church? Music? Dancing? Basketball? Scrapbooking? Gardening? Being an auntie/uncle to your best friend’s baby? Whatever it is, revel in it. One of mine is watching great food shows, with incredible chefs, ingredients, and improvisational dishes. It just makes me happy, quieting my busy mind and helping me relate to food as artistic experience, with the minimalism of a few great ingredients prepared and presented beautifully.
- Really love the people you love. Extravagantly. Create and experience that juicy reality. And tell me about it. Wooooo!
I have more thinking to do on this, while–I confess–way too busy on a beautiful April SoCal weekend. Meanwhile, what does extraordinary self-care mean to you? Please share!