Un-Doing Self-Care

When I was a graduate student at the UT School of Social Work there was a lot of talk about the importance of doing self-care.  We do self-care to prevent burn-out, to be more effective with our clients, to be less reactive in our personal relationships, and to nurture ourselves.   I am a big advocate of self-care with my clients.   My own self-care involves a steady rotation of yoga, good food, plenty of chocolate, a good cup of coffee or tea, a good night of sleep, inspiring movies and books, a date with my husband, a pedicure, walking with a good friend, meditation in my Sangha, a run on a crisp autumnal day, a massage, my own therapy, and acupuncture just to name a few...

When I look over my self-care list, the problem is both obvious and ironic; so much of self-care to do, so little time!  Sometimes, when I catch myself rushing to my meditation group or fighting for the time to "get a run in," or halfway through a chocolate bar that I have eaten and yet somehow not yet tasted, I realize that I am doing self-care.

When I am doing self-care, it's a slippery slope.  Even the most nurturing activity can be used against me.  When I am doing self-care, I can turn something good into something that I am not “doing well," something to “keep up” with, and eventually the same self care that was once restorative becomes something that lacks vitality.  

So, recently I've been thinking less in terms of doing self-care and more in terms of un-doing self-care.   It's a bit like cleaning house and throwing out the stuff that no longer fits.  This un-doing has meant viewing my habits of self-care through fresh eyes and with a warmhearted and caring approach to myself.  I invite you to explore your own practices of self-care with lots of tenderness for yourself, be on the lookout for what has become restrictive, boring or obligatory, and allow self-care to become a way of being, rather than a list for doing.