Supportive friendship as well as time + space for ourselves are both important elements of our thriving, healing, rejuvenation + wellness. And yet, I believe that self-care is not truly self-care, if it ultimately leaves us feeling more stressed about our health, time or money. Again our circumstances + preferences can vary widely in this area...and even over an individual lifetime.
Social media tells us that people are enjoying fabulous times together sitting on exotic beaches, eating colorful meals out on the town, attending lovely parties, dancing wildly at concerts + sipping drinks on picturesque rooftops...laughing all the while. The same social media tells us that time spent alone in self-care involves pedicures + facials + massages + shopping bags. And while lots of those things sound like a lot of fun, I can't honestly afford to do even one of them every week. We can get into real trouble with our budgets, if we let ourselves get carried along by every whim, invitation or expectation (whether our own or other's). Our fear of missing out may leave us without ample time to truly slow down + tune into our own souls.
If time spent with friends is to be true self-care, it might need to look a bit more like this (at least a majority of the time) ::
-instead of meeting at a coffee shop :: tea + store-bought cookies together at home (a favorite custom from our time in London)
-instead of a weekly zumba class :: morning walks together...or decide on a challenge to do together- to hike all the parks in your city or visit all the landmarks
-instead of a night at the theater :: movie night at home with popcorn (find an air popper on craigslist)- switch off who picks the movie + assigns the next category- fave 80s movie, fave Matt Damon movie, high school fave...
-instead of a day out shopping :: a clothing swap, a tour de thrift shops, a trip to the flea market
-instead of eating out ::
-taco night- everyone bring a topping or two
-every one bring their own dinner to a park
-club sandwich- everyone bring a sandwich + cut them to share
-instead of a night out on the town :: um...most nights out on the town don't leave one feeling better in the morning ;)
-instead of sporadic texting :: make a phone call...facetime
-instead of a manicure :: paint nails at home for the cost of the nail polish or grow out the damaged nails + enjoy those healthy, naked nails (!)
-instead of a massage :: use a foam roller...trade massages with your partner...maybe even find a massage table on craigslist to up the luxury for both giver + receiver
-instead of a coffee shop drink :: figure out some tasty drinks to make at home...even a few little splurges at the grocery store go a lot further than the same money spent at a cafe
-instead of shopping :: wear what's already in the closet or make-up bag...take the fairdare...declutter your closet...embrace "less" + "enough"...take a no-buy challenge for a period of time...explore what it feels like...learn...grow
-instead of an all day netflix marathon :: declutter, learn something, visit the library, turn on music + dance
-instead of scrolling instagram :: journal, make moonlists, meditate, write out feelings in letter form (to God, a friend...send it or don't), stretch, move or get outside
Time spent alone becomes a luxury for moms of young children in particular, not because we want time away from our beloved babes...but because suddenly none of our time or even our own bodies belong to us. As a mama of small children, perhaps my best bit of self-care was protecting my little ones' naps + bedtimes. An overall (not militant) routine is important. Even as my girls grew out of naps, I tried to protect a quiet time when they would play on their own in their rooms for a period of time...so that we could each foster a little independence + alone time. As children grow older, trading playdates + sleepovers + having friends whose children love yours can provide time for self-care...both alone + with friends.
I think that one of the main rejuvenating aspects of time spent either alone or with friends is being intentional about slowing down enough to fully engage + be present in the moments we are spending in this type of self-care. We spend so much of our time trying to multitask or struggling to remember something else we need to get done or feeling stressed about what we have not done. Whether we take two minutes to meditate or sing out loud to that song we love...or four hours to lay on the couch + laugh with friends...we can just try to be fully there.
Be gentle with yourself, friend.
Also in this series on self-care :: roots + wellness
Lots of love,