• Amy Picco, DO

Self-Care is Your Default Setting

What do you think of when you hear the term self-care? Do you think of physical pampering, maybe a massage or manicure or a lazy morning in bed? Maybe a special meal that makes you feel good in all the right ways – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Is it your commitment to the weekly yoga class that keeps you sane and strong? Some people would say getting all of the loose ends in your life dealt with would qualify as self-care. Cleaning your office so you can work with a clear head; organizing your finances so you are comfortable with where you are presently and have a clear path ahead to achieving your financial or professional goals.

Well, I say it’s all of it and more.

It’s so much more that honestly, everything we do, all day long, is self-care.

REAL self-care is simply making sure that you are represented, heard, honored and loved. How do we do that? It’s not through a single massage, I can tell you that.

All of the media outlets we know have made self-care a soft term. You’ve been taught it’s what you do when you’ve forgotten yourself, or you’ve been forgotten by others. It’s what happens after you’ve pushed past your limits or been disrespected. It’s the attempt at achieving a balance in your life that you’ve been ignoring; and then keep denying you’ve been ignoring it. Media would have you believe it’s some sort of reckoning or almost an apology to your body, mind, or heart. Self-care is actually much stronger and deeper than that.

Self-care is NOT an apology. Real self-care is a state of mind. And it’s not really an option, people. It’s a frame of mind that, once you have it, never leaves you for long and changes absolutely everything for the better.

It hit me one day as I began my morning routine of putting away the clean dishes from the drying rack while my coffee was brewing. Just this simple act of putting away the dishes, a mindless thing, really, was actually part of a morning routine that is essential for my head to be happy. Why? Because I don’t like clutter; my heart and my mind need to see clean surfaces to truly shine, to create, to fully show up in the world. So, I clear the rest of the clutter from the day before as I start my new one. Doesn’t take long. And I hadn’t been conscious of it as anything important. But it is. It’s part of a larger series of things I do all day long that truly serves my highest good.

Then I thought about all the other things I do during the day – even the ones that I don’t enjoy. And I realized it’s all part of bigger picture that screams organization, health, goodness, comfort, perseverance, honor, and love. That screams self-care.

All the meals I make (even the ones that are better to my mouth than the rest of my body) are part of this caring for myself.

All of the conversations I have through my day are all opportunities to represent myself, honor others, be seen and heard, hold boundaries, and act lovingly and with kindness.

All of the work I do, I do it as part of my purpose here on Earth. To truly show up. To be heard.

And if it doesn’t feel like it’s part of my purpose? If it doesn’t at all represent me or honor me or feed back into who I am? Then it needs to go.

It’s not always sexy, this self-care. Doing the dishes, cleaning the toilet, working with my kids on their math homework – none of that compares on the surface to a massage, I know. But it’s part of the larger picture of representing, honoring, and loving who you are. Every time I am with my kids is an opportunity to show how much I care about being a mom. Every conversation is an opportunity for my true voice to be heard. Every meal I eat is an opportunity for me to honor the health in this body.

Every single action we take has the potential to be sacred. To be really good self-care.

How would your life be different, or your attitude to it change, if you saw everything you do in your day as self-care?

It might make doing the dishes more sexy. And if not sexy then perhaps just honored as a larger part of your day, as part of the goodness of cooking. Of feeding yourself and your family. As an act of devotion to yourself and yours. Can we see ourselves as an honored guest that has arrived today? How best to serve this person we love? Would you not love to do the dishes of the person you most admire in this world? Would you not mind cleaning the bathroom for your most honored guest? Can you turn that around so that it’s YOU you’re honoring?

It doesn’t mean it’s always going to be fun. Having the hard conversation with your husband about something that hurts you isn’t fun. Cleaning the toilet isn’t fun. Teaching your teenage boys to turn off the light when they leave the house is not fun (when? When will they get it???). But can you see it as part of the Story of You? Part of the larger picture of who you are, your values, your worth, your beauty?

What if there’s a job that truly doesn’t provide ANY sort of honor? What if you really need to see out the sliding glass window in your kitchen to start you day off right but cleaning the windows really doesn’t give you that feeling of accomplishment as part of the larger story of YOU? Then make sure someone else is there to do it. It is now, drumroll please…, your oldest kid’s job! Because you are worth honoring every minute of this life. Even in the difficult and the dirty and the unsexy moments, you can still be heard, honored, and loved. It’s the most important job you have in this life.

And if you make this mind-switch…if you can really see all of what you do during the day as self-care…you will invite gratitude and true wellness into every moment of your life.

And oh boy, that is when all the shifts begin to happen and your dreams really do come true.

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