This post is written in collaboration with some of the most stellar and deep-thinking women I've met. It's a series called The Refined Collective, organized by The Refined Woman. Each month, we'll each share our thoughts on an assigned topic. This month is all about Self-Care. Be sure and check out the other women who are a part of this Collective: Katherine Harris, Lauren Scruggs Kennedy, Chelsey Korus, Danielle Bennet, Kate Labat, Joanne Encarnacion and Nikia Phoenix.
How cute of the universe to bring the topic of self-care into my life right now. At this transitional phase, I'll be honest with you: I don't have the answers. I only have experiences, reflections and lessons. Isn't that the way life works though? If we take a moment to step out of our own lives and allow ourselves to see the bigger picture, doesn't it all boil down to experiences and lessons? Well, I'll share my reflections on how to navigate smoothly between the two. Hint: it's all about self-care.
How can I love myself well? How can I show myself grace and compassion when I'm uncertain or perhaps even hopeless about my visions for the future? What can I do to reverse negative cycles of thoughts and emotions? These are some of the questions I've been asking myself a lot recently and because I love talking to people, I've come to realize that so many people, if not the majority of them, ask themselves the same exact questions. I see so much beauty in this realization; not for the uncertainty, but for the camaraderie that exists between us for simply being creatures who feel. It's what binds us and what helps us step out of our own way to invite in a broader perspective. Broader perspectives are the base for self-care. Perspective on what we feel, what we want to feel and what we need to do to feel that way are the beautiful gifts from practicing self-care. Self-care has become a coined term relating to practices that range from quietude to luxurious treatments, and although they’re all fair definitions for it, I want to include perhaps a new way for you to approach it.
It involves stepping outside our minds and entering our hearts. One of the most recent revelations I've had is that I want to be able to be as aware of my feelings and needs during times of joy as I am during times of stress. Self-care facilitates this transparency. It's the link between our hearts and our perspectives on life. That's where I think the gift of the precious present lies. The pot of gold. The edge of the rainbow.
The ultimate lessons in self-care that I can pass on to you are this:
Self-care is fun
Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. - Dr. Seuss
A life of leisure in my everyday life is what I strive for. These are some of my favorite spontaneous practices: middle-of-the-day DIY face scrubs and masks, extra essential oil drops on my skin to feel like a goddess, long walks to the plant store while listening to my favorite music, gym time for hours at a time because I pretend it's a spa, reading all kinds of books that enlighten and inspire me, signing up for that class I've been wanting to take, etc. Thinking of "normal" activities as luxurious ones or even switching the time of day I enjoy them adds an element of fun and playfulness to my self-care routines. In addition, taking a leisurely approach to my day immediately adds the illusion of time to my life, which makes me more prone to notice, acknowledge and perhaps even smile to the person next to me. This is one of the truest benefits from practicing self-care: when we care for our internal selves we're better able to externalize feelings of peace, compassion and love to the world around us.
Self-care is quiet
Silence is the quickest avenue to our soul. In quietude, we face ourselves, our feelings, our lacks, our desires, our questions and our dreams. I find that each day is different when it comes to sitting quietly. Sometimes I'm in the zone for twenty minutes straight and other times it's a huge struggle to stay still for two minutes. It's always telling of what's underneath the surface of course. I've experienced enough of the bliss that happens when I push through the chatter and arrive to my inner peaceful place to know that it's worth pushing through in those difficult times. Bliss, my loves. BLISS. And I want that for you, for everyone in my life. If you're willing, I encourage you to check out these apps. I use them either at home in the mornings, in bed at night, or even on a long subway commute. Make this experience your own and don't overthink it. In yoga, it's said that a still body will facilitate a still mind, but just remember that the goal isn't to quiet the mind completely, it's to slow it down enough for you to see what's there, without judgement. These are my favorite meditation apps:
Stop, Breathe & Think
They each have free + premium options. I usually just choose a free one and it does the trick!
I hope you enjoy this approach to self-care. I'd love to hear about your journey as you incorporate some of these or maybe even come up with ones that your heart is yearning for! I find that taking a step back from our busy lives, listening to our hearts and honoring what it needs always brings a sacred perspective to our days and lives.
Sending you all love,