Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Radial Self-Care: This Shit is the Real Deal

As you know, I recently had a Radical Self-Care epiphany.  Here's my take on Radical Self-Care - what it is and what it isn’t.

Here’s the thing, as women, we are hardwired to nurture.  We constantly take care of the people we love, putting their needs before our own.  It’s a generous and loving act.  Nothing wrong with it.  Until we run out of gas.  

There’s a reason the flight attendant instructs you to put your own mask on before assisting someone else:  you can’t take care of anyone else until you take care of yourself.  Period.  It’s like pouring from an empty cup.  

Enter Radical Self-Care.

Radical self-care is about putting yourself first, not just by developing new habits, but by changing your whole approach to making decisions about what is truly important.  It’s a whole new mindset.  It’s a radical idea.

Wikipedia defines self-care as maintenance of one’s personal well-being and health.  The word radical comes from the latin “radix” which means root.  So, it tends to follow that Radical self-care is tending to your own roots.  It's a bold act.  It’s a very active and powerful choice to gain or maintain an optimal level of overall health, and not just physical health, but intellectual, emotional, social, and spiritual health as well.  Radical self-care is about taking care of the whole of you - body, mind, and spirit.

Wow, you may be thinking.  That’s a lot to take on.

Well, it is and it isn’t.  Radical self-care is vital to a balanced, vibrant life.  It demands we take our own needs into consideration and act upon them.  It’s about filling your own cup first, then giving to others from all that spills over.  Make no mistake, radical self-care is “something that fuels us, rather than takes from us,” says Dr. Agnes Wainman, PhD, C. Psych, founder of London Psychological Services.

When we come to radical self-care from that perspective, it is a little less overwhelming isn’t it?  

“Radical self-care is quantum, and radiates out into the atmosphere, like a little fresh air.  It is a huge gift to the world.  When people respond by saying, ‘well, isn’t she full of herself,’ smile obliquely, like Mona Lisa, and make both of you a nice cup of tea.”  Anne Lamott

Radical self-care is learned, purposeful, continuous.  It is a true knowledge of self.  It is a holistic approach to well-being.

Radical self-care is not a selfish act.  It is self-full.  It’s fulfilling your needs first in order to fulfill the needs of the people you love and care for.  Again, it’s filling your cup before attempting to fill everyone else’s.  If you attempt to care for everyone else, not devoting enough time to your own self-care, believe me, you’ll wind up wiped out.  And bitter.

So, let’s break it down.  I mentioned earlier some areas where we can focus our own radical self-care.  Let’s take a look at those.

Let’s get in 75-150 minutes of physical activity this week, and every week.  It increases serotonin - the runner’s high - which improves your mood and energy.  Who doesn’t want that?  And, no, you do not have to buy running shoes to accomplish this.  Try gardening, walking the dog, taking the stairs, parking further away from the door, cleaning house.  The point is, choose exercise you will enjoy and stick with it.  Also, get 7-9 hours of sleep, drink your water, and follow-up with medical care (get that mammogram, have a wellness check with your doctor, or update your eyeglass frames).  With radical self-care, you can enjoy a higher quality of life, perhaps even extend your life.  You can reduce the risk of diseases like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.  Radical self-care will boost your energy and ease pain and stiffness in your body.  This is good stuff!

Improve your mind with radical self-care.  Start a jigsaw puzzle habit.  Add some creative activities to your week - my favorites are creating journals and making jewelry.  Listen to podcasts on subjects that interest you.  Watch TED Talks.  Take yourself on a date to the art museum or historical society.  Learn a new language.  Read books.  Read more books.  Write about the books you read.  Write your own book.  You’ll begin to observe details you didn’t notice before.  You’ll question things, then go a little bit crazy until you find an answer.  Spend time alone, enjoy the peace and quiet.  Practice meditation or relaxation exercises.  And watch that negative self-talk; reprogram it to a more positive message.  Radical self-care feeds your mind and makes life more interesting.  

Religion, making time for communal worship in a religious setting, is only one aspect of radical spiritual self-care.  It’s also about reading about religious or spiritual practices that intrigue you.  Other areas which will nourish your spirit include volunteering to help others in need, hiking, biking, or canoeing to connect with nature.  Go on a long walk to contemplate purpose and meaning.  Spend time in prayer or meditation.  Walk a labyrinth.  You can also boost your spirit having fun with the people you love - do this now, life is uncertain.  Call your best friend and meet for coffee.  Plan date night with your partner.  If you’re having conflict with someone, talk it out.  Research shows that spiritual vitality positively impacts health outcomes.  That’s radical self-care.  Amen.

The goal of radical self-care is to live in a perpetual state of wellness in body, mind, and spirit.  That means reducing stress, meeting your emotional needs, maintaining relationships with your friends, family, and partners or spouses.  Radical self-care is finding balance between your personal and academic or professional life.  

Radical self-care is a bold move, a new perspective about putting yourself first in order to take care of the people you love.

Don’t put radical self-care off until you have more time.  You’ll never have more time.  Make the powerful choice to do it now.  Layer into your days and weeks the activities you know will increase your overall physical, mental, and spiritual health.  Take time to figure out how to integrate radical self-care into your day.  You won’t be sorry.

Here’s a radical question:  What can you do this week to take care of yourself?  Leave your thoughts in the comments section as a bold setting of intention.  You so deserve it.


  1. Well, I did run away from home on Monday, and pretty much did what I wanted, instead of errands for the family.

    Today I'm going (with family) to a nice mall, where I will walk briskly from one end to the other and back again. It's been too hot and muggy for outdoor activities lately, so that's my workaround.

  2. Ha! Anne, love it! Running away from home for a day is TOTALLY RADICAL! You go, girl! :)

    Oh man, we've had some hot weather here, too. Am getting my miles in early in the morning before I can talk myself out of it.

    Keep up the good work. You're a Radical Self-Caretaker!