We’ve all seen it, heard it, and felt it in the course of this global pandemic: self-care is more important than ever. There is clear evidence of its benefit and an overwhelming abundance of support online , and yet can be so difficult to actually do it and partake in this thing we need so badly. Especially true when the internet’s idea of self-care is not exactly attainable right now…(if I see another luxurious self-care checklist I can’t accomplish I might be sick).
A self-care checklist is a great idea…
In the early months of 2020, I saw #wellnesswednesday and #selfcaresunday taking my instagram feed by storm, and I wanted more. I loved seeing so much support and #inspo for people caring for themselves and prioritizing their mental health!
Inspired, I found my own ways to incorporate a little bit of wellness in my day. I made myself a daily #stayhome self-care checklist and posted it on my fridge, complete with a white board backing so I could check things off and easily start over again the next day.
Mass following inspiring instagram accounts and seeing my note for “daily self-care” on the fridge WORKED…at first. I drank my water, I washed my face, I engaged with content that was cheering me on, and I even made the bed on a daily basis. With these tools and others I’d honed over the years, I was ready and able to #slaytheday.
As time went on though, it became harder to prioritize these things. I was running out of steam, but I had to keep going.
…But what about when I can’t accomplish it all?
The weekly wellness ritual hashtags now held a bit less power for me, and even started to blend together. I’d scroll past the same post several times in the same day, sometimes bookmarking for a “later” that never came around.
Occasionally, after everyone else had gone to bed, I’d stay up late to partake in a wellness ritual, perhaps taking a long shower or giving myself an acupressure foot massage, but self-care at the cost of sleep felt a bit counterintuitive, so I stopped.
At some point, the fatigue-bordering-burnout from the burden of the great balancing act of 2020 really set in.
I took more and more “mental breaks” on social media, essentially zoning out to avoid putting in effort to feel better. Scrolling past cute illustrations with self-care checklist suggestions or a meaningful quote, my mindset shifted to, “that’s nice, but who has time for that?” — entirely missing the point and my body’s underlying message to put my phone down and change activities.
I made myself feel like I didn’t have time to check-in with a friend or ask for help. I’d often have a thought to reach out to someone “just” to chat and maybe feel a bit normal, but even that felt unattainable. I felt that making space and time for that would be impossible.
Eventually, I took my self-care checklist off the fridge because I was tired of having to address that I had accomplished none of it. Why was it so hard? So exhausting? Why was doing the barest of minimums so difficult? I figured I had to trim the fat somewhere, and I didn’t need to be feeling badly about one more thing, and it went into a pile on my desk.
One night lying in bed, toeing the line of sleep, without warning I started crying. More than that, I started heaving and gasping for air in between full-blown sobs. I was exhausted, overloaded and overwhelmed. Unable to vocalize except to groan, thrash, and cry out nonsense, I sobbed in the arms of my suddenly awake, very concerned spouse, and eventually fell asleep.
In the light of day the following morning, I saw that every plane of my existence was struggling — the mental, the physical, the emotional, even the spiritual, and I had ignored all the warning signs.
I had completely lost it while trying to keep it all together.
I could not carry on like this. Feeling completely drained from the experience the night before, I scrounged my last drops of precious energy to take some steps forward. The way I had been functioning was not sustainable, and it was not healthy. I needed things to be different.
I could not allow myself to abandon my well-being again, and yet, dedicating time and space to self-care felt daunting.
I needed something small, something attainable, something sustainable. My bandwidth was long past being able to support in-depth, consistent wellness rituals. Above all, it had to be simple and doable.
My new, simpler self-care checklist
I gave myself permission to do one nice thing for myself for 5 minutes each day, with no pressure to perform or check it off my list. I couldn’t wrap my head around anything more specific than that, but I felt pumped to get into a rhythm of a micro self-care practice. Just the idea gave me a tingle of energy.
The day-to-day reality of micro self-care ebbs and flows. Some days, I can give myself way more than 5 minutes and indulge in luxurious self-care heaven. Other days, the best I can do for myself is go to the bathroom when I need to. #itiswhatitis
The fact is, I’m doing things with increased awareness now. When I catch myself going through the motions, it’s actually an opportunity to turn even the most mundane of tasks into a replenishing moment. When I start to feel like #aintnobodygottimefordat it means that it is time to make time.
This is where my made up hashtag #microselfcaremonday comes in. Born of desperation and awareness that I could not be the only person feeling this way, the hashtag is my own reminder that I need a small dose of kindness each day, and frankly, its the only thing I can manage on my self-care checklist right now.
In this blog (on Mondays, when I can swing it), I’ll share a new blog post along with how I’ve incorporated (or stumbled through) my micro self-care practice that week.
#microselfcaremonday is my plea to you: take 5 minutes to do something nice for yourself, right now, if you can. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it doesn’t have to be instagrammable, but ideally it brings you a little more space, and maybe even a little more joy.
My hope for #microselfcaremonday is that you can take action and do ONE kind thing for yourself today, hopefully sooner rather than later, and each day going forward.
Tell me, in what small way did you show yourself kindness today? Send me a message or connect with me on Instagram. If you’re not sure, I have it on good authority that five minutes for yourself is a good place to start…