October 2, 2013

Essential Self-Care

What is essential self-care? The basic level of care required during the busiest, heart-wrenching, stressful periods of life. During these difficult times, we typically run on autopilot. Attention to self-care provides a mindful autopilot. If we understand our individual needs, we can maintain center when life interrupts. 

What creative, emotional, spiritual, and physical needs form my baseline? I like this question, because it requires me to notice. What's most important to me and what has the most beneficial effect on me? I might claim: I need a glass of wine at the end of a busy day or I need to zone out in front of a movie. But if I look closer these are not essential self-care. They are momentary band-aids. It's fine for me to do these things, but they don't make my essential list. They don't help me maintain balance during difficult times.

At a bare-bones level, what self-care do I need each day? Here's my current list:  sleep at least 8 hours (if not sleep, rest); drink at least 1 gallon of water; eat fruit(s) or vegetable(s) with every meal or snack; move my body; hug at least 1 person; get outside; laugh or smile; meditate; write.

I return to this list regularly. There are many ways in which I supplement these essential ingredients, but this is minimal self-care. It's helpful during difficult times. It's just as helpful at an everyday-level. With my intentional list, I have a place to return when I'm in a funk. Ah, I haven't meditated for two days or I haven't made meaningful space for my writing. That's okay, I can start again today. What a wonderful part of life: we can always start again, in this very moment. We can choose to give ourselves essential self-care.


  1. We cover ourselves with band-aides. Thank you for the reminder.

  2. Terrific post...I love your blog so much, I nominated it for the Sunshine Award. Here's the scoop: http://1000newmercies.blogspot.com/2013/10/and-nominees-are.html