I've recently noticed a particular hashtag coming up more and more on my social media feeds: #radicalselfcare. Typically, there is a picture of someone cheerfully cooking a healthy meal, or the inviting-looking pool in which a person is about to swim some laps. This idea of boldly and aggressively taking action to care for oneself and prioritize wellness seems to be gathering momentum, and I am a wholehearted proponent of it.
Everyone is different, however, and what constitutes self-care for one person may not be the same for another. We all know that eating healthfully, getting a good night's sleep, and moving your body in some form of exercise are good for us. Additionally, using these strategies supports our ability to effectively manage the stresses of daily life, which further contributes to our overall sense of wellbeing.
Once we've integrated these more universal approaches to wellness into our lives, the next step is to consider what each of us needs based on who we are and the circumstances within which we find ourselves. These circumstances might be overarching, like the work we do or the close relationships that impact our lives, or they might be more transient, like how fewer hours of daylight may be affecting us or a short-term challenge that we would like to navigate as skillfully as possible.
"We don't have a lot of time to take care of ourselves. We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own 'to do' list." - Michelle ObamaTweet It!
As someone who teaches mindfulness and meditation to educators, it is probably not surprising that I encourage people to seek intentional stillness and quiet as a way to find clarity about what each of us needs to be well. There are many metaphors used to describe the experience of mindfulness meditation, but the one that seems most relevant to my point is about a snow globe.
When you imagine a snow globe that has been given a good shake, you can picture all the little bits of glitter "snow" swirling around in the agitated water. Looking into the globe, you may notice it is difficult to see the scene within or to see through to the other side. If you then hold the snow globe still, or set it down somewhere, eventually the bits of snow gradually settle to the bottom, and you can easily see through the now-clear water.
Sitting in mindful stillness, or meditating, allows the glitter snow of our swirling thoughts/plans/memories/worries to settle to the bottom of our snow globe mind, so we can see more clearly what it is we truly need to be well.
I encourage people to seek intentional stillness and quiet as a way to find clarity about what each of us needs to be well.Tweet It!
We may find that we need to start saying "no" to the requests that don't align with the deeper knowing of what is most important to us. We may find that we need to practice self-compassion and letting go of negative self-talk. We may find that this meditation thing is pretty useful and that we might want to make it a daily habit.
Quiet and stillness can be an unfamiliar (and as such, sometimes uncomfortable) experience. Dipping a toe into brief moments of quiet stillness may be one way to acclimatize ourselves to it, and taking a bold, deeper dive is another. Wherever you may find yourself on the spectrum of how to go about this, I would invite you to begin. There is unquestionably a need for #radicalselfcare for all of us, and the actions we take should resonate with the truth of what each of us needs in this moment. Intentional quiet and stillness is one way to find that inner truth.
Kristin McKeown is a nationally award-winning teacher librarian passionate about bringing mindfulness and meditation to educators. Through her site, Kristin provides wellness and stress-management tools to support individuals so that they can better support others.
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