In a wider-culture that can seem obsessed with self-care, it can be a bit shameful to admit that you might not be “good” at it. For some, that means not taking the time to get off the hamster-wheel of non-stop activity, meetings, and work. For others though, not being “good” at self-care can look more like a person who is trying out a new activity, in this case self-care, and finding that they just don’t have the skills to get started. If this rings true to you, I want you to know that you are not alone. Many people are with you in the bewildering moments in which you do have time for self-care, but just can’t figure out what to do. In today’s blog post, I bring you a few notes on self-care that I hope can operate as a cheat sheet and get you started on your self-care journey.
- Remember that not all self-care is about bubble baths and meditation. Self-care is also about taking care of the systemic aspects of your life. Paying your bills. Getting your license renewed. Making an appointment for your annual physical. These are all forms of self-care. If you need some reminders of the different realms of your life that might need some care, consider these: physical, mental, social, relational, financial, spiritual, domestic.
- Consider which self-care activities you can make a habit of and which are best left as occasional activities. For example, perhaps meditation works better for you when you make it a daily five-minute habit rather than an occasional practice. Or, perhaps you need a routine of paying your rent on a certain day each month rather than letting it float around on the calendar, causing stress. Remember that habits aren’t formed overnight. But, habit formation is worth the work, as it allows your brain and body to work with you in the achieving of your goal. Check out James Clear and Charles Duhigg’s work on habit formation for more information.
- My personal favorite way to do self-care. Some time ago, I listed all of my go to self-care activities on tiny slips of paper, with one activity per slip. I then took a field trip to the container store for a handy little container to put the slips in. This container is stored in our kitchen cabinet, but comes out for most of the day, to be used throughout the day. When I am in need of a break in my day, even for just five minutes, I draw a slip out of the container and proceed to engage in the self-care activity listed. (If I’m not feeling the one I draw, I just draw another…) I might pull out a slip of paper that says “sit outside” or another that says “work out” or another that says “hang out with the dogs”. Anything I draw is something that will benefit me in the short term, long term, or both. Most things can be done in a short period of time or made into a longer activity. Most can be done solo or with other members of the family. This practice of drawing self-care activities out of the container has a game-ified nature to it and is one of my core practices of personal mental health care.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a few self-care activities to get you started in your own brainstorming: meditate, take a bath, sit outside, take a walk, eat a snack, bake something, have a cup of tea, cook something, tidy up a room, deep clean a drawer or shelf, process a piece of paperwork, walk your dog/pet your cat, call or text a friend or family member, pray, read scripture, have a dance party, do yoga, read a book, color, plan an adventure, watch a tv show, take a nap, play music…
Know that you are worth kindness and care, beloved Child of God.
Rev. Dr. Ciarán Osborn (he/him)
Rev. Dr. Ciarán Osborn is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, serving in the Boston metro area. He has served as Pastor of several UCC churches in the Boston area as well as in clinical Chaplain positions. Throughout his ministry, Rev. Ciarán has officiated weddings, baptisms, and memorial services in the wider community.
Rev. Ciarán also lives with chronic mental health conditions. He writes, teaches, and preaches regularly on the topics of mental health, mental illness, and faith. Rev. Ciarán writes for the United Church of Christ Mental Health Network. Ciarán is a board game nerd and hiking and Krav Maga enthusiast. His family lives in the Boston area and they share their life with numerous dogs and chickens.