Thankfully, self-care is getting more attention these days than it did just a couple of decades ago. However, I often find myself wondering if the general message I see is getting at the heart of it. Is the “you deserve it” mantra really true when it pertains to chocolate, wine, Netflix, or tools? When seeing the advertisement I’m easily drawn in for the moment. The idea of respite the ad offers is welcomed in the midst of whatever harried moment I might find myself. But when I really think about it, I wonder, “Is that all I am worth? Chocolate. A Netflix binge. A new power tool." Sure those things might be nice, but when conflated with self-care we are losing something much more powerful: true self-care.
To really care for ourselves we need to do more than feel good for a moment or have some time to check out from life’s responsibilities. What we need is to engage in something that helps us check in to life. True self-care will be that which helps us be more present to our life. The point of being more present is that we can feel more fully alive, and be more present to joy, and more present to the people who matter most to us. What we really want is more fulfillment, not more numbing.
But therein can lie a problem. While becoming present is often very good, the reality is there are times when what we become present to is not always positive. Maybe the joy we hope for isn’t there, or the relationships we become present to offer pain rather than connection. Sometimes deeper existential questions arise and we don’t know where to take them. In those moments self-care can feel a bit more like fear, and we would prefer checking OUT rather than checking IN. But I have great news.
While being present to life's moments can be a gift in and of itself, it can be helpful to remember that there is also more to your life than any moment may suggest. This is especially helpful to remember when those moments bring pain. This is why the Mansio Center exists, to be your place of transforming your what is, into what it can be. We want what you become present to in life to be more fulfilling and connective than you have believed possible.
Wherever you find yourself this midsummer, here are some simple do-it-right-now self-care ideas!
Summer Self-Care Ideas:
- Unplug and get outside. Turn off all devices and notifications. Bike, walk, sit, picnic. Take some time to notice what is always going on around you while you rush about. Be present to nature and allow it to ease your soul into true rest and presence. Bonus: watch a sunset without distraction on one of these longer summer evenings.
- Try meditation. There are apps, articles, and always the availability of just taking time to simply focus on your breath. There are numerous physiological benefits to meditation, but also psychological ones as well. You can feel more centered and grounded and ready to live life more fully after meditation. Bonus: sign up for our upcoming 6-week mindfulness & relaxation class being held at the Mansio Center beginning mid-September.
- Notice kids playing. Maybe your own kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews. Watch their creativity and consider their joy as they are present to the world just as it is. Bonus: play a game with them.
- Be playful and get outside of comfort zone. Far too many adults underestimate the simple refreshment that comes from doing something even slightly silly. Dance at a wedding this summer if you normally would not, play peek-a-boo with a baby and laugh with her, make a special dessert and invite others to share, grab some fresh flowers just for the fun of it. Simple pleasures can have profound impact. Taking in the seriousness of life requires us to take ourselves less seriously at times. Bonus: say “yes” to the next (healthy, safe) outside of your comfort zone request you receive.
- Schedule therapy or spiritual direction. I know this doesn’t exactly sound like all the fun things mentioned above, but tending to your inner life is paramount for your overall health and enjoyment of life. This inner work will lead to more freedom and life than you can right now imagine. Bonus: do it now.
There are so many things you can do to become more present to life; I hope some of these ideas will get you started. Cheers to a summer of self-care!
Director of Soul Care
Kimberly is a trained spiritual director through Christos Center for Spiritual Formation. She has been facilitating group and individual spiritual direction for 6 years and is the Director of Soul Care at the Mansio Center. Kimberly is currently accepting new directees. You can read more about Kimberly here.