In January we think about resolutions, intentions, and how to improve. Self-care can be another item on that to-do list. Are we really just another fixer-upper project?
Like so many things, “wellness” has been defined and commercialized as yet another commodity. Running around taking care of ourselves, and buying services and products to do it, seems counterproductive to the result we want. A more authentic way to look at maintaining health - in all aspects - is to think of it as ”self-nurture”.
A lot of what I heard this new year was about minimizing our expectations. One person lamented, “I had so many hopes for 2022, all dashed. Let’s not put too much pressure on 2023!” How do we manage to stay sane with all the demands of daily life?
Pushing ourselves to relax more is just that - a push. We all have the desire to improve ourselves, but that also can also lead to more effort, time, money - and stress. I once read that we need 90% of our energy for maintenance, with 10% available for change and growth. No wonder we’re exhausted! We need less on our plates and more in our bellies; to do less and be more satisfied.
It’s actually true that the best things in life are free. Here are a few: breathing, listening, walking, soaking, sleeping, watching, loving, cooking and eating, writing, and touching… These are things that are part of every day, but the key to being nourished by the world instead of feeling pressured is how we are doing them.
- We are constantly breathing, but how often do you take one long, slow deep breath in the midst of activity?
- We look at our world every moment our eyes are open, but how often do you really notice anything in particular, in detail?
- We read and write, but how often do you spend time reflecting on those words?
- How often do you simply touch another living being (even a plant?)
- When eating, what is the texture and taste as you chew?
- What is the feeling of moving your body through space? Where do we put our weight when we walk, what is our posture, what surrounds us?
- Have you ever just stopped and listened? Wild geese honking overhead always does that for me. And chirping crickets…
It’s funny that what seems like slowing things down really “takes” no extra time at all. The biggest problem with these tiny practices is just remembering to do them in the moment. So no pressure, no guilt or “should haves” - just do it when you think of it! Eventually these small ways of nurture become more frequent, bringing pleasure and calm back into your everyday experience.
Be well. Be gentle. And remember - the best things in life are free!
Peace, love and healing -