I have two kids, a full-time job, a freelance partnership, a blog, friends, and a marriage to maintain. Self care, as a concept - as currently defined by millennial media, seems like a frivolous time suck. I'm a good decade past the target demographic, I put in about 14+ hours a day on various activities and projects, and I'm tired A F. The odds of me meditating in nature about what I'm grateful for in order to ease my anxiety are pretty slim - after all, that's why Barolo and Xanax exist.
According to Psych Central: Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health. So... I'm pretty sure Barolo and Xanax count - but are probably not sustainable in the long term. In the name of (extremely) amateur journalism, I've been researching what self care means in the real world, and what types of activities qualify as self-care. Based on most of the blogs and posts I read, and a few Facebook lunchtime polls, it seems like self-care is just putting yourself first. Which is most definitely a millennial concept. Does it really need it's own terminology and rabid following? Am I just being a crusty old cynic?
Here are just a few of the myriad activities that count as self care - according to the interwebs:
- Go workout - Already on top of this due to fear of middle-age flubber, thanks Todd Pilates + Barre!
- Go for a walk - We have a dog, this is not optional. It's not self-care, it's Sally care.
- Get a kite out of the attic and fly it - Really? I don't have a kite and I've never been in our attic. I'm 43 years old. Fuck this.
- Read a good book - I read every night to keep myself sane. Always have - since age 5. Am I self-care pioneer? Yeah, I totally am. I invented this shit.
- Read some motivational quotes - Holy crap, I hate these. HATE them. I'm a terrible person.
- Avoid emotional triggers - What the fuck? I don't even know what this means. #old
- Put on comfy clothes - If I was any more comfortable, I'd be in bed. Plus there's a time and a place - I find I get farther in heels and a dress (and Spanx), at least 9-5.
- Watch your favorite TV show or movie - Yeah, this is all we ever do. We are on our 50th sequential viewing of every season of The West Wing, and 30 Rock. Done.
- Stargaze or watch the clouds - No. Just no.
- Repeat positive affirmations - See above. Seriously, my friends and family would institutionalize me. Being an asshole is my personal "brand" (note my millennial terminology here).
- Buy yourself flowers - I do this every week because I like color in the house. I'm a self-care guru!
- Make a list of 10 things you are thankful for - 1. family 2. friends 3. work 4-10. Cava. Done.
I know this is an unpopular opinion , but "putting myself first" sounds selfish to me. I know that it's not, I know I have to be healthy and happy to be a decent wife, mother, friend and coworker - but that's where my head is. So, I've reclassified self-care in my brain as both: death avoidance and sanity maintenance. With that in mind, my routines could use a little bit more me time and a bit less scramble to check everything off my list time.
So, like everything else in my life, I scheduled it. Put the workouts in the calendar so I have no choice but to plank 4x/week. Add "reading" to G Cal every night at 10pm so that I get a reminder to do it. Embargoing my cell phone from 10pm-7pm. Reminding myself that everyone's perfectly curated Instagram lives are total bullshit and that they also have to clean up dog pee from their chunky knit throws and they also have to ground their perfectly dressed children.
Stress is what keeps me focused. Pressure helps me get shit done. I wouldn't recognize myself as some perfectly calm, poreless goddess with beach waves and a poncho. I'm a hot mess on a deadline.
I have karaoke sessions - but only after several cocktails, and only with my lady coven. I have impromptu dance parties with my sons - because someone has to keep the "Roger Rabbit" alive. I read and move and love on my family and friends - like every other 40-something I know. We just don't have a label for it. Well - death avoidance works I guess.