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South Williamsport, PA
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Self-Care Schedule

Self-care is a term that’s been bantered about for quite some time. It has different meanings for different people. It can and does include mental health, physical well-being, spiritual fortitude, and a sense of safety and security. As we begin to prepare for the rollercoaster of the holiday season, now might be the time to

Self-care is a term that’s been bantered about for quite some time. It has different meanings for different people. It can and does include mental health, physical well-being, spiritual fortitude, and a sense of safety and security. As we begin to prepare for the rollercoaster of the holiday season, now might be the time to check in with yourself and schedule some self-care practices to offset the upcoming end-of-year stressors. Routine self-care is also a great way to prevent and combat any seasonal affective disorder that tends to kick in after the holiday hubbub settles and winter looms large.

First, what does self-care look like for you? Many people mix self-care with holistic practices and new-age paraphernalia like sage or crystals. But it can also include basic things like getting enough sleep, drinking eight glasses of water a day, or stretching. Since there is a wide range of activities and methods for self-care, I find it helpful to categorize different self-care practices in a stratum from basic to indulgent, with a few levels in between.

The basics, as stated above, are solid, healthy daily things, like getting rest and staying hydrated, which would be considered low-stakes self-care. It doesn’t necessarily cost anything; they aren’t lifestyle specific; they just fall under good common sense. Personal hygiene, such as brushing teeth, taking medication, and combing hair are also forms of basic self-care. Getting clean, feeling fresh, trimming nose hairs — it’s all part of keeping your body healthy and contributing to the general social contract that allows us to participate in society. Other basic forms of self-care can include using body lotion for dry skin, wearing makeup, and making healthy food choices. In general, basic self-care should be part of your everyday routine while also being specific to your needs.

Next, we have self-care with a bit more intention. These are practices that lean more toward mental and spiritual health. Prayer and meditation are the two big ones. But anything that helps you center yourself, tools you use to relieve or respond to stress, or breaks in the day that make you smile are what I’d classify as intention-setting self-care. This type of care can also be part of your daily schedule: Morning prayers, a midday breath meditation, and reading a book before bed are all examples of how to work this type of self-care into everyday life. Or it may be deployed as needed. A stressful day at work may find you reading some inspirational quotes before a meeting. Kids driving you crazy? Give yourself a timeout to take a few deep breaths or look up funny parenting memes on your phone. Feeling like no one understands you? Listen to a podcast about your favorite niche hobby or interest. And, of course, seeking professional help when faced with a mental or emotional crisis is essential self-care.

Maintenance self-care deals more with physical well-being and health. This is what you do for your body’s upkeep. Diet and exercise are the two pillars of this type of self-care. And this type also requires the most discipline. Making a healthy meal plan for the week and sticking to it may not be much fun, but it is self-care, nonetheless. Especially with all the holiday deliciousness ahead, having a healthy diet in place beforehand will help offset the sweet goodies and huge dinners coming up. And by “diet,” I don’t mean going on a diet to lose weight; I’m using diet in the sense of typical eating habits. For instance, sticking to the food pyramid’s daily recommended servings would be a diet in this instance of self-care. Only eating grapefruit and cabbage soup between Thanksgiving and Christmas is NOT self-care; it’s disordered eating.

Exercise is the other big component of maintenance self-care, and this also takes a fair amount of willpower. Getting up early to go running in the dark, or setting aside time to go to the gym, or even taking an exercise class can feel like such a burden, especially with the limited daylight. But keeping your body in motion, in whatever way you can, is key. I, for one, count cleaning as exercise. The Dyson doesn’t push itself. Use the stairs for bathroom breaks on a different floor. My kids love “brain breaks” in YouTube videos, where they have you do quick bursts of exercise as part of a trivia game. Any movement is part of maintenance.

Lastly, there’s indulgent self-care. Think pampering, think luxurious, think treats! This is where a lot of frou-frou products can come into play. But you don’t need a $60 vanilla-honey bath emulsion or a full-body heated vibrating massage mat to indulge. Take a bath and light a candle, have a glass of wine. Indulgent does have to be, nor should it be, extreme. And luxurious doesn’t mean expensive. You can luxuriate in freshly laundered sheets and sleep in an extra hour on Saturday, which, as any parent will tell you, is luxurious indeed! Indulgent self-care is like rewarding yourself for a job well done or just being kind to yourself.

Hopefully, as we close out the year, we all have some self-care scheduled, if not firmly in place, to take on 2023. Something tells me we’re going to need it.