Have you ever had one of those conversations with someone where, within minutes into it, you just wanna’ hold up a bright red stop sign and say “whoa, there’s a BIG misunderstanding happening here!”
That’s exactly what happened to me a few months ago. It was late at night. I was sitting on my couch, laptop on my lap desk (per usual). Babies quietly sleeping, cup of tea on my table, earphones plugged in so I wouldn’t miss anything.
I was hosting a group coaching call for mamas and, not long after we started, I heard it. The proverbial elephant in the room.
This mama was telling us how she takes care of herself and, in particular, how stressful it can be.
You know, like, when you…
- race to get to the massage appointment on time so you don’t miss one precious moment on that heated table?
- sweat bullets trying to get to yoga class early enough so you don’t get stuck unrolling your mat on the crappy spot in the corner next to the weird dude who always wears Speedos and flicks sweat on you when he chatarungas? (Just me?)
- spend weeks with your eyes glazed over looking for travel deals for a weekend getaway, and eventually you just end up exhausted and Netflixing on the couch?
And I get it. Sometimes self-care IS stressful.
We work so hard to take care of ourselves that — instead of building our resilience reserves — we actually really need that treat time just to get back to a basic level of balance.
From a brain science perspective, the additional stress we feel gives our bodies and brains the signal that there’s danger here (of being late, for instance). This triggers the “sympathetic” nervous system. This starts our fight-or-flight mode — and the flood of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline. Then, we spend extra time trying to our “parasympathetic” nervous system back in control (specifically led by the ventral vagus nerve which, when driving our bodies, helps move back into a calmer, happier place).
It took about 3.5 seconds into the conversation for me to see the problem here. And I hear it all the time.
It’s one of the most common misconceptions about true self-care: it has to be big.
This is soooooooooooo not true!
You don’t always have to have a hot stone massage with a homemade sugar scrub and vichey shower afterward (although, okay, yeah, that is super-nice). Sometimes, it’s having a hot shower at the end of a long day.
You don’t always have to take a 90-minute yoga class in a studio (especially if you’re always stuck next to Speedo Guy). Sometimes, it’s plopping down on your mat in the corner of your own, comfortable, familiar home base.
And you certainly don’t have to always hop on a plane in order to feel better (promises the person who *loves* traveling so much, I’ve lived bi-continentally for over 3 years). Sometimes, it’s about reading a fabulous novel that’s set in a foreign land.
Self-care can be extraordinary… or ordinary.
Both help regulate your nervous system… though the “small stuff” may be more effective overall, if the big stuff is stressing you out.
Notice that when you feel too tired to take self-care, maybe you’re making it too exhausting. You can always do something for yourself. Big or small.
Every moment counts.
Our New Mama Care Kit helps you cultivate your very own self-care resources. Get it here for free.