We women are natural caretakers. Our Mother archetype is strong, even if we're not currently raising any children of our own, and we're encouraged to help, support, and shore up everyone around us. In fact, when people see women practicing self-care or pampering themselves, they often view this behavior as indulgent or even selfish. But I'm here to tell you that self-care is not optional, and it's not frivolous!
Think about it: How can you be a great mom or wife or coworker or friend if your batteries are always drained? How can you reach your goals and travel the world and have great sex if you're constantly exhausted? How can you take care of anyone else if you haven't spent some time caring for yourself first?
I created SPA Day so that the wives of Wounded Warriors would have the chance to rest, relax, and rejuvenate. Many of these brave women care for their injured husbands while simultaneously raising their kids and struggling to keep the family afloat financially. And many of them haven't had two seconds to themselves in years. Let that sink in a minute: No downtime, no zoning out in front of trashy TV shows, no much-needed shoulder massages, no days off in multiple years. SPA Day gives them the chance to focus on themselves so they can recharge their internal batteries and dive back into their hectic, stressful lives.
But even if your life isn't hectic and stressful all the time, you still deserve to invest in self-care. We all do. And although a tropical vacation or a shopping spree on someone else's dime would be marvelous, there are easier and more affordable ways to help yourself unwind and regroup.
READ There are countless studies showing that the time we spend in front of screens - computers, smart phones, televisions - aren't nearly as relaxing as we think. In fact, many experts urge us all to turn off the electronics for at least 30 minutes before hopping into bed, if we want a good night's sleep. Reading, on the other hand, engages our imaginations, takes us out of the everyday grind, and has been scientifically proven to reduce stress. So put down the phone, and pick up a paperback. Even if it's only for 20 minutes!
CREATE A MORNING RITUAL Busy moms and high-powered career women know that morning is usually a frantic time, full of worrying over outfits, shoveling down breakfast, and running for the train. But each morning is our introduction to a new day, and creating a quiet, meditative practice can help you feel more centered and capable. This can be as simple as making tea or coffee - boiling the water, cracking open the coffee beans and inhaling deeply, pouring yourself a cup, and taking 15 sweet seconds to enjoy that first sip. Or it can be reciting a mantra for a minute or two while you shower or blow-dry your hair - something like, "I am strong and smart and ready for my day." If you have pets, take a few moments to greet and pet them in the morning - it'll lower your blood pressure! Each of these will take no more than 10 minutes out of your morning routine, and it'll be so worth it.
STRETCH Many of us dread the e-word - "exercise" - and moan that we just don't have time to go to the gym. And honestly, we should do our best to make regular movement a part of our lives since it's vital to longevity and health! But on those days when there's zero chance you're making it to Zumba class, take three to five minutes to stretch. You can do a few simple yoga poses, roll your head and shoulders, or even try some desk stretches. Stretching is great for your muscles, and it's a quick, simple practice that makes you stop, breathe, and remember that you're a physical being.
Naturally, all of the cliched self-care practices are cliched for a reason: Manicures, bubble baths, and massages are all GREAT things to do to help ourselves feel refreshed. But they can be expensive and time-consuming, and most of us feel short on money and time nearly every day. So don't feel like self-care needs to drain your bank account or clutter up your schedule. Try any of these three practices - or anything you can think of that will give you a quick, restive boost - and you'll see that self-care can be as easy as breathing.
Images Manicure image: credit Equipe Integrada
Wine image: credit Flood G
Beach image: credit Randy Robertson