I ask, “What do you do for yourself or for fun?”

I receive a blank stare followed by a quizzical look that turns into a furrowed brow, then a slight head tilt to the right. “I guess I don’t really know.”

This small snippet of conversation is one that happens a lot (perhaps too often). And it’s not hard to understand how or why when you look at how today’s woman has so much on her plate. While progression in our society has contributed to increased women in the workforce, what hasn’t caught up is how we support these same women and their families with the dynamic shifts in roles and responsibilities.

Natural traits lead women to be more compassionate, caring and nurturing which often means that when someone or something needs to be taken care of, it’s a female leading the charge. Until our society shifts to fully supporting the needs of today’s women, many women are self-imposing sacrifices to their self-care that can lead to increases in depression, anxiety and illness such as heart disease and cancer.

Self-care has been elevated to “buzz-word” status lately – and for good reason. It’s needed.

So, what is it? Self-care is when you connect to a health (mental or physical) need that you have and deliberately intervene on your own behalf to make sure that your needs are being met. Self-care looks different for everyone as our interests, bodies, and desires are all different.

This month, Barbie shares some of her favorite and necessary interventions that she connects with in her regular life.

Read on!

Self-Care = Self-Preservation (#Sanity)

Because my own self-care expands beyond the realm of important to necessary for me, I want to encourage and advocate for you to find ways to engage in daily and monthly means of SELF-CARE. When I first thought about how I participate in self-care is, I was initially thrown for a loop until I begin thinking about how I intentionally do (or not do) different types of activities based on how I’m feeling. I’m a mover, a creator, a dreamer and a player and while I’ve tended to do activities related to these traits very innately, they have become such a key component of my daily (or monthly) routine, that I can’t imagine living without them. Here’s what I need to do:

Embracing my menstrual cycle and Getting feroscious instead of fetal: For starters, I exercise when cramps kick in. Cramps leading up to and during your menstrual cycle can range from being absolutely overwhelming to just whelming (as Jenn likes to say.) Despite some pain, discomfort and experiencing an “I am just not feeling good” kind of day, I pull myself out of a fetal position and uncomfortableness by exercising. Yes, I occasionally have to drag myself from my bed or couch to do this, but let me tell you, amazing results occur.

That is the only reason why it motivates me. Because I know it works.

I start with warm-up stretching to some meditative music. Then I move into dance moves to my favorite music, the cramps

Move Your Body

dissipate, and are no longer distinguishable.  My body feels light, full of energy, and breathing no longer causes me to exhale in moans.   It can be dance, riding a bike, lifting weights, kayaking, or walking lunges in the front yard – just get those bodies moving! You may find yourself thanking the relief that movement can bring. There are certainly days in which rest is best so use your women’s wisdom to help make your health choice.

CREATIVITY MATTERS.  Yes, yes it does.  Take time to swing your brain into a whole different area that is less travelled.  We work so hard using our noggin for computer work, spending too much time and attention to cell phones, project work, generating to do lists, planning our calendars, solving problems, researching, analyzing, completing tasks and chores, the list goes on and on.

Owl Box

When was the last time you tried painting, coloring, drawing, crafting, dancing, playing an instrument, exploring with clay, really playing, for fun – in general? I find, for myself, I get worn and fatigued fast with too many thinking tasks, and not enough creative play.  My husband, Wayne, knows that it is not unusual if I just randomly go off and grab my paints and go outside, take the guitar into our corncrib porch to strum, or announce I want to make an owl box to hang in a tree.  He will let me do what I need to do, and in some cases, help me with a creative project, as he realizes the need for balance, too.

Creating is fundamental in expressing our own thoughts and ideas, in forming new thoughts, and in growth.  It allows us to think outside the box and promotes ingenuity.  If it has not been tried before, how about we try?  For me, taking the time for this play, allows me to be rejuvenated and I come away feeling refreshed and ready to dive into that other side of my brain with confidence, calmness and productiveness. Let us all be risk takers and ensure creativity remains a part of our world.  Your mind, body and spirit will thank you.

LEAVE SPACE FOR NOTHING. I love my alone time. No white noise, talking, tv, radio, music, road construction, people, etc. I really cherish times when I can just be alone. With minimum input, one will experience lots of calm, quiet, and peacefulness.

My Soul LOVES this.

Take a quiet hike

I believe quiet times can help us to be better listeners. A hike in the woods doesn’t just allow for you to connect to the many voices of nature. Solitude allows for you to connect to your inner-voice that we often try to ignore with mindless activity. Listening to your inner-voice allows you to be in touch with your feelings – all of them. Often, we try to avoid experiencing upset because of the emotional discomfort associated with what some would refer to as “bad feelings” such as sadness, anger or frustration. Left unchecked, these emotions and feelings can settle into our bodies and have the potential to manifest as health symptoms. Pay attention.  Let them arise, acknowledge them, and let them pass. This type of practice can also be referred to as mindfulness.

Mindfulness involves being with your thoughts as they are, neither grasping at them nor pushing them away.  Instead of letting your life go by without living it, you awaken to experience it all. If you want to move towards mindfulness, you can move towards a connected state with some of my favorite ways to embrace silence:

  • Read a book with a cup of tea, getting lost in the story.
  • Meditate or hike outside in the essence of nature.
  • Take a nap with no timeline.
  • Play catch with my dog, Minni, in the yard.

By practicing mindfulness in my down time, it gets easier and easier to transition this to my not so down times and the busyness that sometime seems to take more than its fair share of my day. I am grateful for my down time and opportunity to self-reflect.

Self-care is so very crucial to honor balance in our lives.  I hope that you take the time to initiate self –care practices of your own and would love to hear what it is that you do!

Take care, well wishes, always.

Barbie