The "I'll start tomorrow" self care trap
How many times have you wanted to take action toward feeling better and said to yourself: "Yes, I want that! But I can't start right now. I'm too tired, busy, distracted, overwhelmed, ____. I'll start tomorrow, when it's easier." In my work, I hear about so many walking shoes not yet broken-in, bedtimes ignored, doctor's appointments put off, vacation days unused, calls to friends never dialed, relationship conflicts never resolved, novels unwritten, lunch breaks skipped, meditation cushions gathering dust, and hammocks covered in leaves because self care is so often deferred for "tomorrow." Sometimes "tomorrow" is pushed forward for weeks, months, or even years. There are lots of good reasons to delay things until tomorrow! But what about when you continually put off things that are important to your wellbeing and you aren't getting your needs met? What if the timing never feels good enough for you to take care of yourself? Life is messy. It's awfully rare for the perfect blank slate day to arrive when you have plenty of free time, the weather is ideal, all of the resources you might need are at your disposal, you're feeling mentally and physically well, and you have the drive and energy to take action. It's ok that those days are rare. Committing to your wellbeing and happiness doesn't have to be a fresh start on a day where all of the conditions are perfect for self care. If it did, we might find ourselves waiting forever! You deserve your own care right now, no matter how frantic and messy life feels in this moment. Especially how frantic and messy life feels in this moment. When you take the pressure off of yourself to practice picture-perfect self care, you might find that taking care of yourself can happen immediately, even in the tedium and busy-ness of every day moments. It may even be as accessible and low pressure as sending a text or taking a deep breath. Self care doesn't require a fresh start. You can start now by taking one small step. How might that look? Here are a few examples. Let's say you want to start moving your body more frequently but your walking shoes haven't left the house in months. Rather than continually waiting until a Zumba class finally fits your schedule, what can you do today with the time and energy you already have available? If your energy allows it, can you walk around the block while you take a phone call? Or what if you dance while putting the dishes away? If less energy is available, how would it feel to walk to the mailbox or practice just 1 yoga pose? Let's say you know a budget would put your mind at ease but haven't been able to start without getting completely flustered. Sometimes a great first step in self care is planning your next steps! For today, how about jotting down the first 2 tasks you need to do to create your budget? If you've been putting off seeing a doctor, what can you do to start advocating for your health immediately? Depending on what obstacles you're dealing with right now, whether it's your current doctor's bias, the cost of care, concern about being weighed, or something else, would it help to start by asking a couple of local friends about their experience with their doctors? You might also find The Complete Guide to Becoming Your Own Medical Advocate by Ragen Chastain immensely helpful for determining a small first step today. (It's fantastic.) Fresh starts can be exciting and energizing. But you know what can feel even better than daydreaming about a fresh start? Taking care of yourself consistently and loyally. What one small step can you take today with the time and energy you already have available?