I am not proud of this, but I have admittedly been known to internally roll my eyes when I find myself caught up in conversations about self care. My first thought always seems to be “Who actually has time for that?” But since the pandemic, the need for this “me time” became mandatory for my mental health. And what I’ve quickly realized is that people really are pretty good at practicing self care, but becoming more mindful at recognizing it makes a big difference.
I’ve always assumed that self care is a four-hour spa treatment, complete with massage, some sort of mud bath, and who knows what else because I’ve never done that. And while that may be exactly what some people need for self care, there are a lot of other iterations of what that can look like.
For example, I have joked for years that I am a much nicer person if I am exercising regularly. EVERYONE in my house, including my dog, will agree with that. For me, something about a hard workout that leaves me super sweaty just completely changes my mindset. Lately, that’s been hitting up my local OrangeTheory studio for a workout over my lunch hour. I used to be an early bird worker-outer, but that, like everything else, has had to change. My husband’s work schedule changed, and I could no longer hit my beloved 5 a.m. class and make it home in time for him to get to work in time. We have young kids, so we always have to coordinate. I definitely moped about it for a bit but quickly realized that wasn’t doing any good, so I started to swap my lunch hour for a workout a couple times a week. Since making that a habit, I’m a better employee, a better mom and I’m just generally not a giant jerk, which is good for everyone.
Another self-care move I’ve made is buying a kayak. I’ve talked about it for years and finally pulled the trigger. I’ve gone out on a couple maiden voyages and there is something invigorating about trying something new. I’m not great at it. Yet. But I will be.
I’ve also watched others around me pull some pretty sweet self-care moves that I’ll mention. My daughters ride horses, which means we are out at a barn several times a week. I’ve made a mom friend there whose daughter rides with my oldest. We’ve been there for years now together, week after week, watching our daughters ride. She recently decided to quit sitting on the sidelines and take lessons herself! This is the coolest thing, and it just goes to show it’s never too late to try something new or, in her case, reignite a passion she had from childhood.
I know we talk about fellow moms, friends and women a lot here, but I’d be remiss not to mention my big brother. Stay with me here, but he raced motocross since we were kids. It was our family’s whole life for years. He stopped racing about 13 years ago, but has never stopped riding motorcycles. My brother and I are close, and when I got the text that he decided to enter a race, I got tears in my eyes. He is pursuing his passion again and is brave enough to take action. It helps that he’s still really fast and is blowing the competition away, but that’s not the point. Motocross is his form of self care. He made a comment that he’s having more fun right now than he’s had in years. Awesome.
My husband is another example. He took up mountain biking several years back, and although I complain about how much those bikes cost, I know it is how he blows off steam. He’s also now picked up riding dirt bikes, so there’s a lot of two-wheel action happening in our house.
I guess I’ve sort of always thought that you kind of hang up your hat a little as you get older. Settled into your ways, got into a routine. That always scared me because I love adventure and new things. It’s been inspiring to see the people around me use self care in ways I never imagined. I hope it is something I keep doing as I continue to age, especially since my kids recognize and understand how important self care is, despite my initial internal eye roll.