Over the weekend, I attended a pop-up event for WMNSpace, a relatively new LA-based “conscious space for women to gather in service to their own healing.” I only stayed a bit to hear the co-founders, Danielle DuBoise and Whitney Tingle of Sakara, a plant-based food delivery service (that is growing quickly and is quite fantastic) and makeup artist/natural beauty expert Jessa Blades discuss self-care rituals. There is so much about women-focused self-care these days and this post could be a book, but I still wanted to share some thoughts as I try to motivate to take better care of myself. Perhaps it will speak to you too.
There have been myriads of studies done that show women spend little or no time taking care of themselves. Whether you’re a mother or not, many women excel at being selfless. Everyone else comes first. And if your full-time job is in an office or taking care of your kids, you probably still have many more responsibilities….cooking, cleaning, booking family vacations, paying bills, doctor’s appointments…that are the equivalent of having a second job. To find time to care of yourself, something else has to give. It’s not always easy. But I think many women give up on the idea of self-care, because sometimes the idea of self-care gets mixed up with being self-indulgent. Being self-indulgent is amazing on occasion, but it is not the same.
I was talking with my husband about this topic and he said something that really struck me. Far from being self-caring, he thinks many women are self-destructive. Ouch. That feels like a harsh assessment. But on some level, he’s right. (Not to say men aren’t too.) Whether you starve yourself or overeat, squeeze yourself into Spanx everyday to feel better about your sagging butt or stomach, or try to erase your wrinkles or some facial feature you don’t like to attain some impossible ideal, many of us are constantly beating ourselves up to “feel better”. Not good. We need to learn to be more accepting of ourselves and others. And to treat ourselves nicer by taking proper care of our bodies and minds.
Self-care, at it’s most basic, is about creating a solid routine of eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep. All things that don’t require massive amounts of money (you can exercise outside), or even time, but often take Herculean effort. I sleep enough (though many women I know don’t) and exercise plenty (this is where the discipline of studying to be a classical dancer in high school pays off, it is a non-negotioble for me and if I have to wake up an hour earlier, so be it). Where I definitely fall down is eating healthy. Sure I’ve taken my daughter’s vegetarian challenge and am three weeks in and doing fine….but I’m not sure having powdered donuts for breakfast and eating bars for lunch on the run is a good idea. (If you listen to the Sakara ladies, you realize how much of your health and well-being is directly tied to nutrition.) Indulging aside (definitely a necessity in my book) I’ve fallen into the trap of shopping for healthy breakfast and lunch options for my daughter but ignoring my meals. There’s no excuse, it’s a stubborn mindset I got used to and need to let go. There is never enough time in the morning, but I am going to find five minutes to prepare at least a proper breakfast and some healthier on-the-go snacks. One notion that was constantly drilled into my head during my ballet years was “your body is your instrument”. (Not that dancer’s haven’t been known for being fairly sadistic to what they do and put into their bodies.) Still, the idea has great merit. What can you do to take better care of yours?
photo: Edward Weston