Self-care is a strange and wonderful thing. What might be an intense burden or chore for one person might be liberating and relaxing for another person. Take me, for example. Putting on makeup is something that is a huge chore for me. I hate it. But there are a lot of folx I know that find putting makeup on to be very therapeutic. Conversely, I love to write, and I have been blessed in the last couple years to be able to grow my platform from my own WordPress site to being a guest here and on several other publications. I know that for some, trying to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard, as is often the case for me) is a trial that they’d rather avoid.
Those moments that are only for you are precious.
In your relationship, taking time for self-care is critical to your success as a couple. As I write this post (my form of self-care), Nateanite is (I hope) playing Mass Effect: Andromeda. Exploring planets, saving the galaxy, and solving problems in a (generally) “paragon” style soothes him. Maybe this separation is counterintuitive, but if you want your relationship (really, any relationship) to last you have to spend time apart. Otherwise, that cute way your partner’s clothes *almost* make their way to the dirty clothes basket will drive you wild (and not in the good way).
Making Time for You
Now, if you’re anything like me, there are times when taking time for self-care just feels like another chore. Just one more thing to add to never-ending list of things to do. In that spirit, I am going to conclude this piece with a very short list of ideas for engaging in self-care that I know have helped me to not feel quite so overwhelmed.Block Out Your Time: By this I mean, give yourself a time limit for any given task. I get restless if I’m sitting for too long. Since I work at a desk all day and am also a graduate student, I end up doing a lot of sitting. What I find to be effective it to break up my day into shorter chunks. Work at something at the desk (writing, reading, checking emails) for 30 minutes to an hour, and then getting up and doing something active for a corresponding amount of time (admittedly more difficult in the office). At home this might mean standing to fold laundry (a never ending task with small children, that’s for sure), to wash dishes or vacuum, or to take a walk with my family. At work it might mean getting up to fill up my water bottle, empty the recycling, or use the restroom.
You Do You: Outside of the work, do something you enjoy. Writing, reading, taking a bath, learning a new skill (I’ll admit, there are some community ed classes I’ve had my eye on for several years now), baking, exercising. In this section I will say this – you might be in a phase in your life where you have no idea what you like. I say that because I’ve been solidly in that phase from time to time. School consumed my life until I was 24, and when I graduated I had no idea what my hobbies were. Just reading reading reading, with a little writing and heated debate intermixed. Throw in some job loss after graduation, working multiple jobs to make ends meet, and babies being born I am finally able to embrace writing as something I love to do. But as a graduate student, I know the writing I like to do is not the writing I’ll be spending the next 2 years doing.
You Do Someone Else: This could mean a few different things, and what springs to mind for me are two things (you’re probably thinking one of them, hehe). A healthy sex life, whatever that looks like for you, is critical to your self-care. That might be no sex, sex multiple times a day, or anywhere in between. When it comes to sex, you do you. But this piece also means pushing your comfort level a little bit, especially if you’re not sure what you like. Do something you think you probably won’t like. If you really don’t like it, no harm done. If you do like it, then you have an awesome new hobby to add into your self-care arsenal!
Doing something on your own also means you can come back and have something to talk to your partner about. And that really ties back to my piece a few weeks ago about how important it is to communicate. Do things you’re excited about, or that scare you, or that make your life just a little bit more manageable and you’ll have fabulous things to discuss with your partner and you’ll feel infinitely better about yourself in the process.
Rachel is a blogger who writes predominantly about parenting and ways to juggle “having it all,” even though she thinks that phrase is overblown and generally impossible. She also thinks that time management and cutting yourself a little (or a lot of) slack are key to managing all the pieces of your life. Rachel and Nateanite have been married since 2010 and they have two daughters. Electric is three years old and Adorable is 10 months old.