Have you ever browsed the hashtag "selfcaresunday" on Instagram? It's a fun rabbit-hole to fall down. Just check out the "top posts" and "most recent" images on any given Sunday and I guarantee a majority of the stream will consist of:
• immaculately clean bathroom counters brimming with expensive beauty products, all tagged and affiliate-linked
• immaculately clean bathtubs filled with flower petals, often accompanied by the perfectly spray tanned calves of a upper-middle class/wealthy white woman
• carefully curated images of smoothies and açia bowls filled with precisely placed ingredients with $$ per lb price-tags that make me LOL in the Whole Foods produce section
• Face masks. So. Many. Face. Masks.
Now, I'm not trying to throw shade at any of these things. Smoothies are the shit. I LOVE a long soak in the tub. I have a skincare product obsession (anyone who has seen my counter FULL of products can attest that my obsession *really* toes that fine line between aficionado and full-on hoarder) and I sheet mask religiously. That said, the hashtag pushes the "aspirational," and it seems like the primary message is that, as women, what we're supposed to be aspiring to is some glossy-magazine-adjacent aesthetic, and the self we need to be caring about is external, mainly "fixing" or "treating" our faces and bodies for the aesthetic pleasure of others. UGH.
Once in a blue moon, however, something beautiful happens admist all the intricate, well-lit salads and sheetmask selfies: someone posts a picture of a book they're reading. Or tags a picture from the trail they're out hiking. Or shares a snap of their toes in the sand or sticking out from under their comforter after sleeping in. THIS, my friends, I find SO👏DAMN👏REFRESHING👏
Self-care as a glass of wine, a face mask, and a Grey's Anatomy marathon is relaxing, no doubt. I've absolutely had MANY nights where I actually JUST CAN'T ANYMORE and need to TURN OFF MY BRAIN, and slapping on a mask and (accidentally) drinking a half a bottle of wine is SO EASY and mindless and numbing and feels good in the moment...but just in the moment. As inevitably as death and taxes, after Sunday night comes Monday morning, and yes, my skin might be a tad bit glowier, but the effects the prior evening's "self-care" are fleeting, and all of the problems and stressors I was trying to escape the night before are STILL THERE. If I'm honest with myself, nothing really was taken care of.
I'm gonna channel Yogi Bhajan for a minute. He said:
Homie really understood the whole self-care thing on another level, and I've really taken that to heart lately, and hav been pushing myself to cut down on the wine-drinking/sheet-masking/binge-watching in favor of deepening my self-care practice...and it's been life👏changing👏.
I'm not gonna lie: trying to do this soul/spirit level self-care work can be hard. Yes, it requires me to be present and aware of my thoughts and actions. Yes, it requires me to carve out time. Yes, it requires reflection and quiet. And it requires practice and failure and persistence, all of which can, especially when work was crazy, feel far more stressful in the moment than I feel I have the energy for. BUT BUT BUT the rewards are so much more lasting, and actually provide tools and solutions and ideas for making our day to day that much better so I don't need to take that time to just check-the-eff-out come Sunday.
It's not just the Kundalini yogis that feel this way. So many major religions and spiritual practices all have a teaching that's some sort of variation on this very theme: it is imperative that we work on ourselves on a deep, personal, soul/spirit level and only through that process and that learning are we able to show up for others. And by showing up for others as our most compassionate, empathetic, highest selves, we can truly begin to affect real change in the world.
And affecting real change in the world is something I (and many of my fellow left-leaning Americans) have been thinking about quite a bit since, oh, I don't know, the morning of November 9th of 2016. I hate to bring this up, especially after we just channeled Yogi Bhajan and looked at soothing images of crystal singing bowls and snow-capped mountains...but as of today, we're on day 422 of the National Nightmare that is 45's presidency, and the collective culture of the country could use a giant healing sound bath right about now. The national stress level is HIGH AF. Most days, when I turn on the news, I just want to let out a giant primal scream...but again, that might be easy and feel good in the moment, but it ultimately solves nothing and scares the shit out of my neighbors. The best thing I can think of to do is hold space for difficult conversations and show up in the world with my most compassionate, empathetic, highest-self. It just feels like this has never been more important or more, well, difficult.
Here on interior creature, I'm holding space for exploring the myriad ways we can level-up our #selfcare into #soulcare and #spiritcare. Going inward and taking time to really take care of #1 is super crucial, now maybe more than ever. Because until the National Nightmare is over, we're going to need every ounce of strength we've got to be able to truly show up for each other.
What are your #soulcare and #spiritcare practices? How do you nourish your interior creature? Let me know in the comments!