Winter is nearly over in the Northern Hemisphere. In the technical sense, anyway. It’s been a long, cold haul for many of us. The sight of flowering bulbs pushing greenery through semi-frozen soil is balm for the winter-worn heart. But what about the rest of the body and mind? Enter the practice of self-care.
You know how much I hate to practice!
It’s not like practicing the piano, 9, where someone is constantly pressuring you to do it because you have a weekly lesson that costs six dollars*- -money down the drain every week you don’t progress! Not to mention the annual recital- –
Please don’t mention the annual recital! I get zits just thinking about it.
I understand, Lily. Let’s see if I can offer you both some reassurance. Stepping back from the word practice, let’s take a moment to define self-care.
Self-care, noun, does not appear in my Merriam-Webster paperback dictionary (12th edition, 1976). Apparently it didn’t exist at that time, but if it had it would have fallen between self-betrayal and self-closing. Turning to an online dictionary, self-care is “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health” or, with a slightly different nuance, “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”
So self-care is stuff like exercise?
And eating a healthy diet.
Stop looking at me!
Stop stuffing your face with Oreos!
Thank you, 9 and Lily, for illustrating the dual concepts of self-care and stress.
Sometimes I cannot believe we are the same person.
We are and we aren’t. I think of us more as the Id, Ego and Superego, but that’s a topic for another day.
Getting back to self-care, you probably feel pretty good physically, mentally and emotionally if you’ve been taking care of yourself in addition to life’s other demands during the winter. But if you haven’t, now is the next best time to start.
Since we all have “things to work on” everyone can play the game. I started a couple of very simple, no-or-low cost self-care activities this month to make my existence happier and healthier.
Face Yoga is something I mentioned a few blogs back. I do this not in the vain hope of once again looking forty, but to mitigate the side-effects of regular routine swimming (aka skin damage from goggles and chlorine). My source is an online, on demand course from dailyom.com titled “Nonsurgical Facelift.” I find this title somewhat misleading as it implies the use of subcutaneous injections.
Putting fillers and fat under your skin to plump it up. They do it with needles.
Shots? No way!
The online course comes in fourteen 5-minute lessons targeted for different areas of the face. Each lesson involves a massage, a muscle-building exercise, and a relaxation.
Does it work?
It feels like it works, Lily. Especially this month when I’ve been doing it every day. The combined techniques make your face feel refreshed and relaxed. Building the muscles underneath tightens and tautens the skin on top. The skin itself benefits from improved circulation, and some of the relaxation techniques ease eye strain and tension in the neck, head and jaw. Plus, it’s inexpensive: as little as a one-time payment of $19.99 to use the course forever.
The other self-care activity I’m pursuing this month is a quick routine of daily exercises the chiropractor gave me to improve strength and balance. The areas involved are the toes, the feet and the ankles, including some very effective (aka painful) stretches that I can also feel in my arches and shins. After doing these consistently for a few days I already feel an improvement in my gait. The heel is working harder to roll the rest of the foot forward, and the toes feel slightly lifted inside my shoes which prevents the occasional stumble.
People seem busier than ever in our age of digital helpers (which require time and attention, too). But is it impossible to carve out ten or twenty minutes a day for self-care, especially if improved well-being makes us more efficient and effective in addressing life’s other demands? Not to mention feeling better from a little bit of self-nurturing. . .
Easy for me to preach as my household is comprised of one person and one cat (though Hoosegow is a tough negotiator when he decides it’s time for brushing or sit on my lap). But, hey, just tell those other people or animals or demands in your life that you’re taking a time out! Make your own time for self-care, long or short but truly your time, and hold onto it fiercely.
Because you are worth it.
And if reading that last sentence brings tears to your eyes, you really need it, too.
*Cost of one half-hour of piano instruction, Port Townsend, WA, c. 1969