...what they have in common. My personal observation of modern self care.
Apparently, I missed the month of September. Literally. I didn't realize this until someone said "Hey, what happened to your blog??" Hmmm. I have no idea! What happened to September?? Yikes.
So here we go.
'TIS THE SEASON
In Florida, there is one tell-tale sign the fall season has arrived (even though the thermostat still reads 90 degrees most days)...everything turns to PUMPKIN. If there's a food product, toiletry item, or anything at all that can be made scented, it's certainly fair game for this fall flavor favorite. Well, of course!! Many restaurants evidently now feel obligated to introduce (or intercept) menu items such as beverages, desserts, breakfast treats...even dog biscuits...in some version of pumpkin and join what's now a $500 million industry. Trader Joe's literally sells pumpkin spice hummus and pumpkin overnight face mask. (Don't get them mixed up in your pantry...) The pressure is on. Forbes magazine actually gave Starbucks credit for converting "pumpkin spice" from a pie to a marketing phenomenon back in 2013. (PSL, anyone?)
In this strange, transitional time in our history, where we are trying to figure out if we are still in a pandemic or not, while we are still processing the remnants from virtual school/illness/death/politics/racial unrest/Afghanistan/Zoom/etcetcetc, there is another industry rapidly emerging in response. The Self Care Industry.
DISCLAIMER: I am in NO WAY saying we should not take care of ourselves. What I'm saying is...the concept can get lost in the commercialization...the principles can get lost in the products.
PART OF THE PLAN
"Self Care" has now become common nomenclature for the habits and practices we engage in to sustain a healthy and balanced life. This includes physical, psychological, emotional, social, professional, environmental, spiritual, and financial aspects. (So basically everything.) I know people who have a "Self Care Plan"...yet no Life Plan or Financial Plan...and possibly no Time Management Plan? Perhaps that's why, according to ASD Market Week, the industry grew from $10 billion in 2014 to $450 billion in 2020. From Buzz Words to Bucks Words.
EATING THE ELEPHANT...
This recent surge is no surprise. Stress, depression, and anxiety are at an all-time high, across age groups, genders, and socio-economic status. My 5th-grade teacher sister says even her 10-year-old students say they are "stressed." (What on earth do they have to be stressed about???) According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of anxiety include nervousness, unease, a sense of impending danger or doom, sweating and trembling, inability to maintain focus, uncontrollable worry, and insomnia. (Sounds like menopause!!) According to the US Census Bureau, there were 18 million students enrolled in college in the U.S. in 2017 (pre-Covid). A Statista survey says three out of four of these students reported experiencing overwhelming anxiety at least some of the time. This is to be taken seriously, as the suicide rate rises among students, young people, military personnel and females. Heartbreaking. Add Covid to the mix and watch it spike even more.
Although the tools and resources and products are well-intended and helpful, I wonder...is a gratitude journal, word cloud, or controlled breathing enough? (How about a pumpkin spice aromatherapy candle??) Are we focused so much on managing our anxiety we've forgotten how to re-manage (or remove) its source? And have we now burdened ourselves with the additional pressure to create a Self Care Plan?
I certainly don't have the answers.
The good news is accessible mental health resources and counseling are easier to engage with than ever. College campuses, military bases, many employers, public schools, and even sororities are taking action and encouraging open conversation. Celebrities are telling their stories and endorsing mental health platforms. Heck...on sites such as TalkSpace and Faithful Counseling, you can complete a form online and a trained, licensed counselor will be matched to you (and message you) within minutes. Any time of the day or night. Will it be enough? Will there be enough counselors to handle the spike??
Time will tell. I am hopeful.
In the meantime, I do know this...what My-Self needs varies by day, time, place, circumstance. Even hour!! What gives me energy one minute can drain me the next. The elephant in the room? Without a foundation of faith, I can't imagine how I would have navigated through the "twilight zone" of the last two years.
...ONE BITE AT A TIME
With the exception of homemade pumpkin pie, I can easily pass on the plethora of pumpkin spice products (although I do love an occasional day of pampering). Here are some of the nuggets I personally chew on when I'm hungry for balance. (Would love to hear yours...)
DISCLAIMER: These are not a substitute for professional help, when/if needed.
~ Pour In ~
Read a well written book. Study something new. Watch Jeopardy! Eat a healthy meal. Eat a pint of Ben & Jerry's. Get a massage. Get a good night's sleep.
~ Pour Out ~
Write. Write a note. Make a meal to share. Make a call to a friend. Volunteer for a cause I really care about.
~ Turn It On ~
A favorite album (yes, I said album). A favorite movie I've already seen several times. An inspirational message or sermon. My step counter!
~ Turn It Off ~
The phone. The social media. The laptop. The television. The notifications and alerts. (You get the gist.)
~ Look Around ~
Notice people, weather patterns, what's blooming. Go out on the porch (or balcony). Get out of my head and be present. Listen.
~ Look Up ~
Pray. Lean on God's promises. See the big picture.
~ Be A Spectator ~
Show up, hang out, watch, and enjoy. (This is a treat for a chronic event planner, hostess, organizer, and recruiter!)
~ Be Intentional ~
Choose carefully. Spend wisely. Be thoughtful about big things and mindful of small. Guard my time. Don't waste my most precious resource...myself.
And last, but not least...
~ Apply the Wisdom of Coco Chanel ~
"Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory," says Coco. The core truth of this practice can surely also be successfully applied to my daily to-do list. ;)
Happy Fall, Y'all!
NEXT UP...Best in Stream...send me your favorites from Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu or other services. What series, movies, or documentaries do you recommend?
ADDITIONAL PERSPECTIVES ON SELF CARE