What better time to think and write about self care than when Mercury is in retrograde? Now this may seem like a woo-woo buzz phrase that people use, but if you pay close attention to your life when Mercury is in retrograde (this happens about once every four months), you may start to notice some things. Mercury is a planet in charge of communication and clear thinking, and it's taking a little orbit nap right now so it looks like it's going backwards in the sky for the next couple of weeks (from 8/30-9/22). Basically, everything having to do with communication and clarity (travel, business deals, electronics, basic communication with others) tends to be a hot mess during this time. Like many things in this beautiful messy crazy life, we don't have control over Mercury's orbit. What we do have control over is our self care patterns, which should be kicked into high gear when things feel chaotic or unsettled.
Many times in life, our focus is external; making sure others are okay, paying bills, setting and reaching goals, handling the day to day issues that come up. All of these things leave little room to really reflect on how you treat yourself! And even when we do, we can be really hard on ourselves. This can be for a number of reasons; people who have been in abusive relationships (verbally/emotionally, sexually, physically) have a hard time feeling that they're worth their own kindness. Or if you're that "go to" family member/friend that is always there for everyone else, you begin to see yourself as only that and forget that you need that same support! The other piece is, even if we know we need some extra TLC for our emotional health, it can be difficult to know how to give it to yourself.
The first step is acknowledging that you are worth it. If this is a hard concept to grasp, that you're worth your own love and time, then you may want to take a closer look at that. What beliefs do you have about yourself that prevent you to value you, and where did they come from? This may take some extra work; work with yourself to improve your self esteem, work with a positive support system and/or a mental health professional for added guidance (no shame in getting help).
If you can acknowledge that yes, you are worth it, write down your schedule for the week. How many hours are you spending doing "have to's", or "should's"? How much is just because it feels good? Try to get 30 minutes to an hour of "feel good" in each day; this is something I've struggled with because my job can leave me tired at the end of the day (and wanting to bingewatch Love and Hip Hop, which is not self care for me, it's more like a "blah" thing I do on my couch while I mindlessly chew something crunchy). Not to say that bingewatching can't be self care, it can sometimes. You just want to make sure this activity is something that really makes you feel good and isn't you just numbing yourself, zoning out. Be present and engaged in what it is that you're doing, and make sure it's something you enjoy.
Now that you've taken a look at your behavior, let's look at your thoughts. Notice what your internal dialogue sounds like, especially when frustrated or uncomfortable with things. A lot of people feel they have to be "hard on themselves" to get stuff done. Untrue. There is a way to be kind and compassionate to yourself and not be a slacker, I promise. If you notice your self critic, kindly tell him/her to take a seat, and talk to yourself the way you would your best friend. You deserve the same thought and care that others do. At first this is hard to do, because our thoughts are so automatic that we identify them as who we are, but they aren't. They're the firing off of neurons that do what they do out of habit, and they can be changed if you bring awareness to them and practice purposefully choosing how you think about yourself (over and over and over and over....etc.).
Oh, and what is self care? It can be so many things. Actively doing something that feels good for you: for one person that could be taking a drive and listening to their favorite playlist. It could be running a hot bath and lighting some candles. Exercising, trying a new recipe to cook, art, poetry, going somewhere new, doing your makeup while watching a YouTube makeup guru then taking 103920 selfies. Do what feels good and schedule it in like it's an appointment; like your life depends on it, because it actually does.
And if you're thinking you couldn't possibly do these things because you're too busy and too many people depend on you and whatever other rationalization your brain has come up with because self care isn't the norm for you, then just know that better emotional health has a ripple effect. Your positive healthy presence can uplift another person simply because you know how to take care of you! And you give others permission to live healthier lives and take care of themselves as well. Win-win. Plus, I know you have an extra 30 minutes in your day somewhere. You can do it.
Bonus Challenge: Make yourself a priority for the next 30 days. Practice self care daily (it doesn't have to be huge, just consistent and enough to make you feel like you connected with yourself and took care of you); say "no" to other people if that's what it takes, and "yes" to yourself.
Love and light,
Ps. Happy Mercury in Retrograde, may the odds be ever in your favor