My Declaration: Self-care

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Illustration by the lovely Jessica Swift.

My previous declarations around enthusiasm, uniquity, and intention were fraught with varying degrees of introspective struggle (wrong word, but you know what I mean). I was/am working my way into a comfortable space with those declarations. However, now that we've reached the self-care week, I'm all about it. Seriously, Internet, I got this.

As I watched Michelle and Jessica's video for the self-care week, I heard them talk about the difficulty and guilt of self-care. It's a familiar refrain among women, but I have a confession to make: I don't actually find it all that difficult or guilt-inducing. Of course now I feel guilty for apparently being selfish and indulgent. Wait. Just a second. Okay, it passed. Here's the thing: I understand and completely respect women who talk about their families and/or the struggle to put themselves first. That's just not an experience I share. Maybe it's a sensual Libra thing. Maybe it's a perspective I've intentionally grown into over time and fully own in my 30s. Maybe it's a luxury of being single with no children. The context for my conclusion is technically irrelevant because this single gal's perspective on self-care may resonate with you regardless of your situation. People tend to think this declaration is scary, but I find it empowering:

As part of The Happiness Project, my brunch group just read Gretchen Rubin's chapter on friendship. A specific statement in the chapter resonated with everyone. It honors the beautiful aspect of our nature that desires to take care of others, but it also recognizes the reality of self-care:

One of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy. One of the best ways to make other people happy is to be happy yourself. {tweet it}

Okay, but how do you actually go about taking care of yourself? What does that even look like? One of the most profound resources I've discovered is Gary Chapman's work around the idea of Love Languages. There are five possible love languages: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, and Physical Touch. Love languages govern every relationship we have (including with ourselves), and it goes way beyond romantic partnerships. I am conscious of love languages in relationships with co-workers, family, friends, boyfriends, even strangers. Once you tune in, it's something you'll notice everywhere. If the word "love" trips you up, think of it in general terms as the way we demonstrate that we care about something. Meaning - the way you demonstrate that you care about yourself can align with your love language. Loving and caring for yourself will come more naturally if this alignment is in place.

Discover your Love Language for free!

For example: My love language is time, by far. The test ranks each of your languages on a 1-12 scale. My Quality Time score is 11/12, whereas Receiving Gifts is 1/12. In Chapman's words: "In the language of Quality Time, nothing says 'I love you' like full, undivided attention." What does this mean in terms of self-care? It means that in my busy schedule, I need to intentionally block out Quality Time, name it as such, and stick to it. It also means that saying yes, or saying no, to social commitments is a form of self-care. It means that making time to meditate every day, a practice I recently started, is an act of self-care. It means that two-hour brunches on a Sunday morning are totally luxurious acts of love. Other ways I make time and spend it caring for myself: mani/pedis, movies, bubble baths and face masks, monthly massage appointment, alone time, slowing down my work week by blocking out non-negotiable meeting-free times in my calendar, planning events with friends where the only purpose is to catch up on each other's stories, allowing myself windows of time to do absolutely nothing productive and not feeling guilty about it, and on and on.

I thankfully manage to do all of this pretty well and pretty regularly -- but Declaration of You author Michelle Ward raises a larger point: An even deeper meaning of self-care is about expression, passion, longing, and identity. It's about not denying any part of yourself, or in other words, declaring every part of yourself. Therefore, fully embracing myself as a creative person is an act of self-care. I may find it easy to make time for a good massage, but the idea of fully realizing my creative self will take some growing into. *drumroll* I can now feel free to take my own advice:

It's called self-care for a reason. No one will prioritize this for me. I commit time to self-care so that I can more fully care for those I love, including myself.


The Fine Print: The Declaration of You will be published by North Light Craft Books this summer, giving readers the permission they’ve craved to step passionately into their lives, to discover how they and their gifts are unique, and to uncover what they are meant to do! 

Pre-order your copy now. Learn more by clicking here.

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