Self-Care to Self-Curate: Taking a healthy habit and making it meaningful for you!
Self-care is a recurring, inescapable practice in the pursuit of long-lasting wellness. It is also a topic that tends to garner cringes when it comes up with nutrition and CrossFit clients. The term seems to carry with it a lot of preconceived notions… froo froo, pampering, indulgent, selfish. As well as questions like “who has that kind of time or money to be constantly drawing an elixir-filled bath or visiting the spa on a regular basis?” Talks of self-care are often met with a quick dismissal of “it’s not for me” or resentment for those jerks that practice it and let you know all about it… #selfcare ✌💗
I too failed to find value in my first attempts at self-care. My reaction was somewhere in the middle of complete dismissal, some confusion, to annoyance. I thought, yeah baths and pedis are nice but help me again to see how they are helping my overall goals?
What does self-curate mean?
Over time I started to see it as more self-curating. And no, I don’t mean curating all my best staged and altered selfies for the socials making it look like #selfcare has somehow led me to perfect hair, a peachy behind, and larger than reality eyeballs.
Curate in the sense that I have selected habits that may have been presented as one thing and then I altered or refined that habit to work for me in my routines and lifestyles.
Picture smoothies… What is your first impression? I Google the term, nearly every single photo has a cute decorative straw, some fruit hanging off the side, and some beautifully vibrant colors in tall frosty glasses. Sweet, they are fun to look at and even drink once in a while, but I don’t need that much fruit or dairy in my daily routine.
So what happens when someone suggests a smoothie to help me get in extra veggies in my day? I think of beautifully crafted drinks and the energy it takes to recreate one. I remember past attempts at making one and hating how crappy my blender was or how hard it was to clean out all those berry seeds. The idea becomes a hard stop before I even attempt.
Smoothies snuck into my daily life though. How? First, they are nothing like those pictured throughout Pinterest. I had to come to them in my own way, I wanted to create my own version of V8 in quantities that satisfied most of my daily vegetable intake.
I have somehow stuck to this routine in my life for almost 2 years. Why? Firstly, because it was my creation born out of a problem I wanted to remedy, needing more variety of veggies daily. But then the benefits and how they made me feel kept me coming back!
I had a nutrition client recently tell me she wanted to practice more self-care, but also felt a little squirmy about it. “Who am I turning into!?” It seemed she was saying. We hashed it out a little and then she went forth to practice.
Two weeks later we met and most excitedly she reported having taken a bath the night before. Not because I or someone else told her to, or she read about it in an article, but because she realized that habit after a long hard workout was going to serve her in better sleep and less pain the next day. The thing she cared about for that bath was how hot the water was, not if it lived up to any commonly held ideas of what the experience or purpose “should” be. Suddenly taking a bath didn’t seem like a self-indulgent practice to her, it held a valuable purpose.
I have a friend who has a 3+ year strong practice of creating a tinyExpanse painting every single day. In her words “tinyExpanse paintings are a daily practice of meditation and contemplation through visual journaling.” She posted this recently:
Sometimes I’m asked if I cheat, like do a bunch of paintings on one day to make up for missed days. No, never. If I miss a day you will see a blank canvas posted…
But a practice is pointless unless it is meaningful to the practitioner.
And I realized she hit on exactly the piece that was missing for a lot of people in their attempts at self-care. They have an idea of what “should” be happening, but there is no personal meaning behind the practice yet. It is as if they are trying to fulfill someone else’s lifestyle ideals and getting frustrated when it doesn’t create the same magic for them that the other person is experiencing.
How to make your practice meaningful
So how do you arrive at the meaningful practice, the self-curated habits that make your days nourishing, exciting, and smoother?
First, examine the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” you have around self-care routines. Find statements that are definitive like; I always, or I never, or my family doesn’t, or the people who do x are…
State those assumptions, question them and remain open. This will help you find your purpose behind the practice or why you may avoid it.
Once you have arrived at a habit you are comfortable attempting, look at your environment.
Do you have the resources you need to make practicing that habit enjoyable and repeatable?
If not, what do you need to get or do to take the first step?