Tag Archives: self-care

Self-care can be fun!

That “self-care” thing..

Self-care. It’s quite the buzz word. Who else sees “self-care” and internally rolls their eyes with a, “Yeah yeah, I know..” response? It’s easy to know it’s good for us, but somehow really difficult for a lot of us to act on.

So first, let’s pull it out of the jacket of shame of “shoulds”. Let’s dress it up with a little pizzazz that might make it a bit more appealing.

Word Choice

Maybe “self-care” works for you, you don’t have the response I describe. Cool! Keep using self-care if that’s the case. But let’s be clear on what we’re talking about here. Self-care can often conjure up images of massages, meditation music, essential oils and baths. Those images aren’t wrong, but they are not ALL of what it’s about!

Sometimes we need the very basics of self-care. Remembering to shower, eat something. On some days, maybe it’s the mere commitment to get out of bed. Other days, maybe getting to bed on time and getting enough sleep.

What ELSE can it mean? Self-care, Care for self. How do you like to be cared for? Maybe massages are totally your jam! Maybe you find meditation BORING. Care for self means paying attention to what you like, want, and need. It’s not just a common therapy homework assignment. Self-care goes along with respect, listening, and love. So take a moment and ask your self what you want, what would help you feel loved and respected. Maybe you want excitement and adventure! Maybe you want to challenge yourself. With others, we might show we care by writing a nice note, or planning a fun date. So do this for yourself, too!

Self-care is tinged for me, and I prefer other terms. Brainstorm or pull out the thesaurus, and see what resonates with you. Some terms I use include Nourishment Recipe, Personal Enrichment Activities, Fun, and Recreation. Does it change anything for you to consider FUN as your therapy ‘assignment’? Does it give you more permission to dance in the kitchen or sing in the bathroom if that’s part of your nourishment recipe? Are you more likely to finally sign up for those art classes, seeing it validated as a healthy thing to do? What choice of words for defining self-care make it look sparkly and enticing for you?


Word choice is one reason we might dismiss self-care. Lack of time is probably the most common excuse. In reality, the underlying issue here is usually dedication. We dismiss the value of showing care for ourselves, put it off until ‘later’ that may never come. If you wait until you have time, you might be too exhausted and burned out to actually enjoy it. Self-care doesn’t have to take extreme amounts of time. It means checking in, maybe using the time we spend scrolling social media to instead engage in something with a much more rewarding payoff. How often do we spend a lot more time than we ever planned? Maybe that language lesson is 10 minutes long, you could have gotten through 3 instead of glazing over a hundred posts! Which feels more fulfilling?


Sometimes we skip personal enrichment because of decision paralysis. Working more can be an easy go-to because we often know what needs to be done. This is where I highly encourage writing out your Health Recipe. Maybe even take this as a step in itself, to make a collage of the things you enjoy, or decorate the list you make to pin on the wall as an easy reminder for yourself! Having reminders can help bridge the barrier to entry when we struggle with initiating something new. And if you’re stalled here, take more time. Maybe you build a list over a series of weeks, just paying attention to what you enjoy, what rejuvenates you and makes you happy. Maybe you’ve felt so pressured that the idea of dreaming up fun activities is something you’ve prevented yourself from doing to avoid the pain of Missing Out. So start the kindness now, and start to listen to the inner child who wants to play.


Maybe you already know exactly what belongs on your list, maybe language isn’t much of a problem. Oftentimes, if self-care is an issue for us, it’s because of a deeper, more painful truth: We don’t believe we deserve it. We haven’t “worked hard enough” or “earned it”, we’re still too busy proving our value (to a boss, a parent, a child, ourselves?). Maybe you have high values of “being responsible” and “hard working”. Learning that down-time may help make you more productive still doesn’t help.

Self-worth issues are quite prevalent. Going to self-care when we don’t feel we deserve it just makes us put it off, and maybe add feeling bad about putting it off on top of everything! Don’t “should” it. Take it as information to be curious about. Ask yourself, “Why do I procrastinate enjoyment?” Yes, the answer may be painful. But listen to it, and care for it. Feel the sadness of the part of you that’s been ignored all this time you’ve been striving to earn the right to enjoy.

Pressure to succeed

Avoidance of self-care because we dismiss it as unlikely to help is a common rationalization. If this resonates with you, please know this: you don’t have to feel immediate gratification from self-care. Self-care is not just an action we take. It’s a relationship with ourself. When we deny ourselves recreation, it reinforces the message that we don’t deserve it. It’s a form of self-abandonment. It’s ok to pick something off of your recipe with 100% cynicism that you’ll feel any different and that it wasn’t a waste of time. If you do that, you’re still giving your inner child the message that you care enough to try. And that matters. It’s one step to building a rich, satisfying relationship with yourself, and joy will come out of it if you keep up the dedication.

Making the Most of “Shelter in place”

There’s a lot of anxious energy in our area as we move into the unfamiliar territory of county shutdowns in light of COVID-19. It will be some trial and error as we navigate this time, but panic will not serve us. Most important is that we do not abandon ourselves while we isolate from each other!

She’s speaking that weird therapist language again. Don’t abandon yourself? What does that mean?? It means that while this time is uncertain and perhaps scary, it is also an opportunity. Some of us are still working, maybe we’ve gained back a bit of time we’d normally commute and that’s it. Maybe we’ve lost time to ourselves while taking care of the kids or partners also working from home, crowding our spaces.

This means we need to pay more attention to how we’re feeling and our needs. It’s easy to blur the lines between work and home and work more, or less. It’s easy to be excited about being able to work in pajamas and accidentally not shower for several days. It’s easy to be more sedentary and not get exercise we might normally get in our normal errands. But how do we feel when we do that? If we lose track of our routines, hygiene, health measures, more can slip away than we think.


-Get outside at some point during the day. Fresh air is healthy! The reminder that the world is still there can be reassuring. The open space can reduce the sense of claustrophobia of being indoors for so long. Taking a walk or a run gives us a physical sense of ‘moving forward’ and not feeling stuck. Increased oxygen and a little exercise are good for our health and burning some of the anxiety.

-Keep up with hygiene. Showering regularly does more than keep us from getting smelly, more than washing away germs. It reminds us of the boundary between our skin and our house. Sure that sounds funny, but most of us have had the experience of ‘melting into the couch’ from being too sedentary at some point. Reminders of our physical boundaries help our sense of identity.

-Discuss boundaries with people you live with. Talk about how much ‘alone time’ each of you needs and figure out ways to meet those needs.

-Address your environment. Many people have suggested this is an opportunity to get a household project done- and it may well be. If you are working from home for the first time, or sharing a home workspace for the first time, your space may not be ideal. Consider ergonomics, lighting, and general space. Is there clutter that could be moved to make the space feel better? Lighting a candle can change the ambiance, as well as help with an intentionality around when you’re in a particular room.

-Consider sound. Perhaps some background music will help you focus better, or create some calm, or joy, or some sound buffer against distracting sounds from housemates.

-Stay connected. We aren’t supposed to be physically close with others, but it doesn’t mean to not connect with friends. Reach out to each other. Check in on each other and vent as needed. Phone calls, video chats (perhaps not during the workday as bandwidth may be limited) are still ways of connecting. We can still play charades and word games from a distance. We can help create grounding for one another.

-If anxious thoughts start taking over, try some reframes. While this is scary for many, it is also an opportunity. The world is learning to slow down. We’re forced to be more creative. Let’s be curious about our own responses to this new experience and learn from it what we can. This time indoors is healing the planet of the pollution we subject it to.

-Create structure in your day. Where lines are blurred, we can create new ones for ourselves. Without change of environment, it may be even more important to be intentional with scheduling. A time for movement or stretching. A time to tidy the house. A time for play, a time for connecting. We can still work toward balance.

-Most strongly, I highly recommend staying off the news or social media a good 4 hours before bed. A lot of the information out there stimulates our brains and may leave us anxious before bed, unable to sleep. Protect your rest and be mindful about what stimulation you take in during the evening. Most of the news won’t be urgent and will wait for you to check it out tomorrow.

Take care. And if you need some support and want to check in, many mental health care professionals, including myself, are still available via telehealth. Call me at 408-418-6638 if you’d like to discuss making an appointment.