So, I decided to explore the world of Tiktok the other day to learn a little more about it, because well, it's Tiktok.
A friend who is a master of the platform gave me a quick tutorial on how to search based on interests, so I thought, let's see what is on there in the world of self-care tips, and I learned...a lot, sort of.
The Tiktok majority in this space would like us to believe that self-care is...
Applying moisturizer to our faces.
Hacks on making your own facials or lotions.
Jade, rose quartz or who the h%#& knows what else mini-rollers, to smooth non-existent wrinkles on 22-year old faces. (I'm not confirming/denying these work...just would like to see a crone-age woman do a before and after! If you've seen this, send it my way.)
What do these things have in common? People, friends....
this is what the OG's of self-care called hygiene,
and this Tiktok version seems to place particular emphasis on smoothing our perceived flaws, signs of age, and glamourizing our appearances with 3-inch long lashes and injected lips.
I don't know how the www got this private photo of my personal self-care Saturday regimen, but I digress.
Do you see the slippery slope here that we all go down when we offer most of our attention to these ideas?
This way of defining self-care is dangerous to our self-image and possibly notions of self-worth. Hear me out... when we mainly equate feeling better about ourselves with retaining a youthful glow, being thin, and fashionable, we limit our feel-good feelings about ourselves by attaching them to external ever-changing standards that at various points are frankly, unattainable and unrealistic. Further, we train the subconscious mind through repetitive thoughts about these things that they matter more. We may even become a bit obsessed if we don't check ourselves, right? My point is, how we feel about ourselves should not be based on our physical identity alone, or even primarily, despite that our culture tends to put it atop a shining, pretty pedestal.
And it makes me wonder,
"Is this why some of us have a hard time being still? with sitting with ourselves in silence and finding simple ease and joy in it?"
Because, if we're really being honest with ourselves, we're band-aiding what we really need. I believe that many of us are in a self-reckoning at this point of our journey - meaning, we're now more aware than ever, yet, we are (all) right now living in the "gap" between what was our normal and what it can become.
The key to physical self-image should be how well we FEEL in our bodies, shouldn't it?
While the mani/pedi/facial activities give us needed down time and lift our spirits and gives our minds a break, they do not offer much in the way of stillness or soothing of our spirits. How often do you stop and listen to what you could truly benefit from in any given moment vs. pressing forward with a frenetic sense of "must do"... (must. keep. going.)?
There is so much more we can offer ourselves to restore, sustain and nourish our whole being.
Self-care to me, implies caring for my MULTI-DIMENSIONAL self....mind/body/spirit. How often do we pause to recognize...
We are more than what we do for a living.
We are more than who we take care of day-to-day.
We are more than our paychecks.
We are more than our physical bodies.
We are more than whatever limiting beliefs we tell ourselves in our heads.
I don't know about you, but my "self" is comprised of more than face, hair, and a body.
Self = Mind + Body + Spirit...and each of those has a multi-dimensionality that we could explore for lifetimes. So, when I think of real self-care, in a holistic way, why would I put all of my self-care efforts into the more ego-based aspects of my being?
Sure, just as much as anyone, I enjoy luxuriating when I can. But luxuriating from a mystic's perspective evidently looks very different than a Tiktokker's.
When I really want to nourish my BEINGNESS, show care for myself, that may take many forms depending on the day. And no one's self-care will look exactly like someone else's. In fact, if you're really tuning into what YOU need at a given moment, it likely will not be the same. So, here are three simple steps to check in and honor what you need:
Step 1: Create space...withIN, and withOUT.
WithIN: In your head, first of all! It's even ok if you have to say out loud to yourself that you are taking a moment. If that's what you need to get your own brain's attention, do it, unapologetically!
Repeat after me: I give myself space to breathe. I give myself space to just be. I give myself space to breathe. I give myself space to just be. <audio meditation>
Do you have the kind of brain that needs convincing before you can allow yourself to take a moment? There's a ton of science now available to "prove" to your brain that you'll be better off if you make this kind of time a part of your routine. (and guess what...just doing this is a form of self-care!) Simply changing your breathing to a slower rate, especially with a longer exhale, will have a calming effect on your nervous system (and your brain.)
WithOUT: Mindfully create some space around you. Change your environment by taking a 5-minute walk - anywhere else than where you are when you're feeling closed in, overwhelmed, pressured, or anxious. If you can't leave a physical space you can probably alter it in some way. Just for five minutes, clear a space, change the lighting, stand up, stretch, sit on the floor, put on a mask and/or earphones. Most of us know that music is a powerful energy shifter!
Step 2: Take the space. Unapologetically.
Often when trying to figure out when we can make time for ourselves, we think "I don't have time for this." and it is likely a symptom that you have forgotten your own autonomy out of enduring a chaotic pace. Most of us can in fact control 5-10 minutes of our day. What is the worst thing that could happen if you block your calendar and keep a small commitment to your self? As people-pleasers, we may be tempted to move this block when something like a meeting request from the boss pops up. We so often pride ourselves on being "can do-ers" and so I invite you to shift your concept of being a can-doer to include meeting your commitments to yourself in a manner equal to how you often demonstrate your dedication to others. Demonstrate it to yourself, and keep your five minute meditation. Propose another time. Most people can wait five minutes.
Step 3: Just BE for five minutes. Accept your peace before it arrives. No efforting required.
The reality is, people...yep, pretty much all of us, not just "people who are overachievers", or "people who are struggling with overwhelm", or, "people with kids"...generally effort/struggle/endure stress their way through their responsibilities. We're accustomed to having to work hard and strive. We are trained to want results and to push ourselves to get them. The downside of this conditioning is that it often breeds impatience, perfectionism, and even negativity mostly toward ourselves. Then it trickles out of us at busy moments and we may blame others for making us feel a certain way. But I digress, the point is, take a moment to set your mindset before you breathe or meditate (or both) to simply receive peace for the next five minutes.
Maybe one day you'll meditate for six, or seven, 20, or 110 minutes and you'll get to experience mystical, ecstatic bliss (which is real, btw.) Whatever it is now, be happy you've got it, and breathe. As you take that first breath, imagine yourself in a peaceful state before it is actually what you are experiencing. This is a variation of a mental rehearsal technique used by high-performing athletes. Except in this case,
it's less about pushing our limits and more about claiming our capacity for calm, peace or even greatness.
If your mind still spins the whole time, it may sound counter-intuitive but stop resisting. Give yourself a few minutes to let your mind prattle then start again on checking in with yourself. What feels like a way you can offer space for a few minutes? If what is distracting you looms big in your mind and body, go back to Step 1. And if you really are feeling the struggle, and can spare closer to 15-minutes to destress, check out this audio meditation I created for you to begin your day with less overwhelm and remind you that you are intelligent, clear and whole.