antiques on bedstand

Unconventional Self-Care: 5 Refreshing Tips to Recharge Your Soul

In addition to managing my own business as a healthcare advocate, you may also know that I am a mother of five and the guardian of my mother, who has dementia and lives with me (with an amazing live-in carer btw!).

I get asked about self-care a lot. From friends. From clients. “How should I take care of myself?” they ask. “What do you do for self-care?”

I actually hate that term. It’s always felt a bit disconnected to me and makes me think of massages and solo vacations, activities that have never been part of my life schedule.

Or maybe I hate it because I’m bad at it?

Between the kids’ lunches, the doctors’ appointments, the phone calls , the hospital visits, self-care seemed rather secondary.

But I know, both professionally and personally, how wrong that statement is. Making our own physical and mental health a priority is essential, whatever life challenges we have.

I realized, lately, that I have developed some self-care routines that work for me and I think could be helpful for others:

My nightstand which always makes me smile
  1. Choose your sanctuary. When my mother came to live with us, I knew that having someone with Alzheimer’s in the home would be challenging for my family, but also for me. I knew that I needed a quiet soothing place to go where I could remove myself, even for a few minutes, and take a breath. For me, that is my bedroom. I decorated it with soothing colors. I always make sure it’s tidy, and clean and welcoming. Everyone needs that haven to regroup.
  2. Date yourself. I wish I could say I’m consistent about this, but I don’t do it on a regular basis. However, every once in a while, I take myself out for a coffee, a new book, lipstick. A tiny present of time when I enjoy the frivolity and let myself just be.
  3. Date your significant other. I learned this from an amazing teacher when I was first married, and we have really tried to implement it during our 26 years and counting. Every week, even if it’s a half-hour sitting in your kitchen, no children, no logistics, no planning. Just you, your partner, (maybe a glass of wine), and some low stakes conversation.
  4. Play. As adults, we are responsible for a lot. Period. Add on the tensions of divorce, death, illness, moving house, you name it, we sometimes forget that we can, and need to let go. Although I have not seen the Barbie movie, it did make me think of my own childhood and the hours I spent playing with my barbie dolls. Now, I no longer find joy in dressing them up, unfortunately, but I can play other things. Cards, frisbee, soccer with my boys. For you it could be a video game, or practicing a makeup routine. It doesn’t matter. Let yourself just connect with the child inside,.
  5. Be gentle to yourself. I don’t know about you, but I can be my own worst enemy. I’m really good at berating myself about, ‘Why did I say that, instead of this?’ or ‘Why did I get so emotional then?’ or ‘I can’t believe I forgot to do that’. I’m less good at saying, ‘Hey, you were amazing back there,’ or ‘So impressed with how you held it together in the meeting’ or a simple, ‘You are awesome!’ [yes, I did grow up in the 80’s]. Remember, you deserve kind words just like anyone else.

Remember, you don’t have to do these things perfectly, or consistently, or even these things specifically. But you do owe it to yourself to do something that will feed your soul, just for you.

What are your self-care tips?

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