If you’re like me, the answer is probably, “I don’t think so.”
You probably make basic self-care a priority, (for example, I eat regular meals otherwise I get hangry.) But, beyond that, your to-do list is likely dominated by things that serve other people or things that improve your self, career or home.
This can come back to bite you in the ass. (Trust me on this.)
Putting self-care (which is not the same thing as self-improvement) and compassion on the back burner in your life can lead to chronic illness, depression, anxiety, insomnia, exhaustion, stress and a host of other problems. Plus, it can actually make you less helpful to others in the long run. (Like they say on airplanes: you have to put your own mask on, first.)
So, maybe it’s time for a radical new approach.
Let’s Get Radical
Radical self-care is based on the notion that you are good enough exactly as you are right now, and that you deserve care and attention in order to become the person you were meant to be.
Sounds nice, huh? But, what does that actually mean?
Well, maybe you’re a person who is prone to carrying some extra weight—it’s just the reality of how your particular body is made. You accept that reality, but you also make it habit to avoid sweets and go on regular walks (self-care) to help your body function better where it’s at right now.
Radical self-care is the stuff you could do above and beyond that basic care-taking. For example, maybe you buy a CSA share for the summer to radically introduce more vegetables into your diet. Or maybe you make a conscious choice to spend less time with friends who like to go out binge drinking, since the damage that does on your body can undo a week’s worth of self-care.
When you decide to invest in radical self care, you are making a decision that proactively caring for yourself is more of a priority to you than seeking a promotion, buying a cool new gadget or Instagramming what you ate for dinner. Your health and happiness is more important than your temporary comforts, entertainment, success, popularity or wealth.
And THAT, my friends is a very radical thought indeed.
(Especially since we, as a society, champion people who operate from a place of depletion and busyness and put everything on the line–including their health–in the quest for fame and glory.)
The 30 Day Radical Self-Care Challenge
Understandably, radical self-care is a hard concept for people to wrap their brains around (myself included) and even harder to put into practice.
Sadly, for many of us, the idea of investing that much energy in ourselves seems exhausting and frivolous.
So, what if we simply decided to focus on radical self-care for just 30 days?
How might such a commitment transform our lives? What energy and space might it free up for us to contribute to our families, relationships, careers and communities?
Are you interesting in finding out with me?
How about, starting on June 1, you and I give this radical self-care thing a go and just see what happens?
30 Radical Ideas
What should you do during your 30 days? Well, I guess that depends on what you, personally need most.
As a starting place, I’ve co-opted some ideas from other people’s radical self-care challenges and augmented them with some ideas of my own to get us thinking.
(Note: you do not need to do ALL of these things!)
- Take some sort of digital sabbatical. This could be for a day, a weekend, a week or the whole dang month. Cut lose whatever digital habit is holding you back the most (maybe you give up games, Facebook, playing on your phone when your kids are around, or visiting time-wasting websites.)
- Eliminate processed foods and sugar from your diet. What does that mean? Well, you decide. Maybe go vegan for the month. Or maybe you just drop the morning doughnut, wean yourself off soda or cut refined sugar (It HURTS me to type that last part.)
- Reach out to people who make you feel good and set up times to get together with them, face-to-face (or, if they live far away, call them on the phone, FaceTime or Skype.) TELL THEM how much they mean to you. Let them know you are making some changes in your life this month and ask them to support you during them.
- Engage in a daily writing habit. This could be keeping a journal/diary, gratitude journal, writing “morning pages,” etc. If that feels too overwhelming, just start by logging a single sentence.
- Sleep 7-9 hours a night. Have trouble with that? Then maybe commit to tackling your sleep problems in June. Purchase a sleep tracker and start gathering some data on what’s keeping you up.
- Make a playlist of music that makes you happy and listen to it. Don’t put it on in the background while you multitask and do other stuff. Just sit and listen to the music you enjoy and, you know, enjoy it.
- Eliminate one or more of the biggies: caffeine, alcohol or nicotine from your life. If this is a big problem for you, then maybe just start the weaning process in June… or admit that this is such a problem it should be your ONLY radical pledge for the month of June.
- Take a break from complaining and make a conscious choice to be more grateful… even for the parts of your life that suck. This may mean asking your family to call you out on your complaining, starting a gratitude journal or pledging to finally accept something in your life which you cannot change, but that you continually fight against anyway.
- Detox your friendships. Take a 30 day break from any toxic relationships in your life. (Yep. That can include family members.)
- Let go of limiting thoughts about yourself (e.g. that you’re ugly, that you’re not successful enough, that you’ll never find love.) Write each of those thoughts down on a piece of paper and then destroy that paper (burn it, rip it up, flush it down the toilet. Whatever floats your boat.)*
- Move your body, however that works best for you. Ideally do something active every day, no less than 5 days a week.
- Disconnect from any digital communications that annoy you. Unsubscribe from spammy email lists. Hide the people on social media that trigger negative responses in you. (If you’re feeling bold unfriend/follow them, entirely.) Install the Kardashian blocker in your browser.
- Take 10 minutes a day to close your eyes, get quiet and meditate. Don’t know how to meditate? Then close your eyes and just get quiet. That’ll do.
- Slow down and really notice the world around you. Eat more slowly. Walk more slowly. Schedule less shit in your day. Fall out of love with the cult of busy.
- Go away. Take a day off and go do whatever makes you happy or schedule/take a vacation (NOT a staycation where you rest but also knock out a couple of household projects.)
- Take baths instead of showers. Hang out and enjoy yourself in there.
- Make that doctors appointment you’ve been putting off. That mole that looks weird? Time to check it out. That mammogram you’ve been avoiding? Put it on the calendar. That exhaustion you’re fighting on a daily basis? Address it.
- Hydrate like a mo fo. All day, every day with tea or water. NOT SODA.
- Turn off the TV…and leave it off. (Most of the good shows are on summer hiatus now, anyway.) If you end up not missing the TV, consider cutting the cable cord entirely.
- Play…with your kid(s), with your pet(s) with a friend. Get down on the ground and get messy. Be fully present, (not like, “this will make for a fun share on Facebook. Let me try to snap a picture”) and fully occupied with the task at hand.
- Have orgasms. This post recommends no less than 5 times a week.
- Purge your house of things you do not use or love, thank them for their service to you, and then give them away.
- Engage in some body pampering appointments. Get a massage, pedicure, etc. Self-care isn’t about getting beautiful on the outside, it’s about caring for yourself on the inside. But if hiring someone to pamper your outside allows you to pamper your inside, then do it.
- Try a new hobby or activity, even if you think you’ll suck at it. Add some novelty into your life by experimenting with something unexpected.
- Skip the news and read inspirational books instead. Hell, read ANY books. Books are good for you. Hit me up in the comments if you want some recommendations.
- Go outside and get some sunshine. Literally stop and smell some flowers. Opt for a walking meeting with a co-worker. Dine al fresco.
- Create something (even if you don’t think of yourself as “an artist.”) If you’re looking for an incentive, take part in the 30 Days of Creativity challenge (or just follow the hashtag #30DoC for inspiration.)
- Pray (or “reach out the Universe” if you’re not the praying kind.) Declare your intentions. Give thanks.
- Choose a mantra or affirmation for your 30 day challenge. Write it down and stick is somewhere where you’ll see it every day. Chant it in your head while you meditate.
- Lissa Rankin put it so eloquently in her post, I’m just going to quote her on this one: “Practice forgiveness every day. Forgive yourself. Forgive that person you’ve been holding a grudge against. Be extra specially kind to yourself and others for 30 whole days in a row.”
To be honest, I don’t know what the rules are for this challenge. (Maybe there aren’t any.)
I guess, to get started, look at the list above and decide what you want to do starting June 1…
- Maybe you do ALL of these things in the month of June (probably not, though.)
- Maybe you do ONE of these things each day, for each of the 30 days in June.
- Maybe you do a half dozen of these things EVERY day in June and try to incorporate another half dozen here and there.
- Maybe you do one thing one day, add something new the next day and cumulatively work your way through the list, leaving the thing that’s hardest for you for the last day.
- Maybe you don’t do ANY of these things and focus on one big issue that’s unique to your situation.
It’s up to you. It’s your radical pledge.
Once you choose your projects, write them down and share that list with others to hold yourself accountable. Then, starting June 1, start radically caring for yourself–however that looks for you.
I’d love to hear how the challenge goes for you. If you choose to participate, feel free to leave comments below or connect with me via social media to share your thoughts. We can even hashtag this sucker #RSC and share stuff that way, too.
Good luck! I hope your June is amazing.
*This is an actual psychological technique. For example, Dwight D. Eisenhower used to control his temper by writing down his angry thoughts and then burning them.