Low-key Self Care – a practice and a mindset – for when you don’t have much energy

I experienced life circumstances, both before and after becoming a mum, that highly challenged my nervous system in different ways, and I didn’t seem to be able to cope at times, in my relationship to myself, my surroundings and my children, I would walk around with a constant feeling of upset. I had to find a way to support myself and my children through those challenging times and I did.

Self care 

Self care has been on many parents’ minds for quite some time now. As a mum to two children, it is something that was often mentioned in articles I read when they were smaller. The act of including small acts of self care in everyday lifeíss an important part of a mum’s way of looking after herself, but is something that can feel difficult when you have young children depending on you.

Is it enough?

Last year, I came upon an article ‘Self-care’ is not enough to fix how much moms are burnt out, which talked about how self-care actions are not enough, how talking about them so casually results in mothers not getting the support they really need. One of the points being, that society needs to ensure that mothers get proper support so that they can open up and be vulnerable.

While I agree with that, I also still find self-care actions really important, because they can be a way of implementing a radically different way of relating to oneself. I find it important to point out how low-key self care can transform from a practice to a mindset, and dependent on circumstances this might sometimes take years. 

Distinction between self care and low-key self care

Here I make a distinction between self care and low-key self care, which I think is important to point out. Self care consists of all actions that enhance our wellbeing, be they holidays, going to the gym, massages, hairdressers, whatever is important and feels good to a person. Low-key self care is distinctively something you can do right here right now, at home, even while you have your children safely with you. One is not better than the other, we’re just responding to different needs in different circumstances. One also doesn’t cancel out the other, so just because you’re able to cultivate a low-key self care system at home, doesn’t mean that you don’t need a holiday or any of the other activities that make you feel better. Low-key self care is a way of empowering yourself, even if you don’t have access to time alone.

Baseline and nervous system

When I met Simone and was introduced to PowerWood I was struck by the way my experiences of parenting were understood. Parenting in a household full of overexcitability made us seem quite different from most people I knew. I also learned, that self care, and specifically low-key self care, when not having a lot of energy was of utmost importance if I was to cultivate a sense of peace and safety for my children and me – safety in the sense that I felt I was in charge of my emotions and didn’t get overwhelmed and blew my top. 

Simone talked about “Baseline”. We sometimes need to “up our Baseline” to have enough physical strength and emotional resilience to tackle everyday life in a way that we are happy with.

Low-key self care

I have been encouraged to go back to apply low-key self care time after time again over the last few years. When I say low key, I am not talking about spa trips,holidays alone or massages and manicures. It’s self care that you can do here and now, with what you’ve got available.

It was not built into my habits to grant myself this kind of attention, but getting constant reminders over the last few years to build up new habits has turned into a radical healing journey that has led me to mostly be ok, even when life has been incredibly challenging. And not least, it has helped me to help my children thrive in challenging life circumstances.

Radical acts of self love and slow cooking of new habits

Stress-reducing actions can be radical acts of self love, because done over longer periods of time, you no longer do them because you “deserve” them, but you do them because you have a right as a human being to have your needs met and they have become new helpful habits. 

Over a longer period of time, for example, I took time in bed watching films, because I knew that it would calm me so I wouldn’t lose it with my children and shout or get angry. Over time I’ve learned to see it as a way to nourish myself, that taking this time for me is necessary for my wellbeing, and that one of the benefits of this is that I don’t lose it with my children. It’s a shift in perspective that has taken me a long time. It’s just like slow cooking, it takes time but ensures a quality product. 

Have I always enjoyed that I needed as much rest as I have? Certainly not. I have wished many times that my constitution and my life circumstances were different, that I was one of those supermums who has had a career, been a successful blogger, promoted her own brand while doing an awesome job as a mum. But hey, my life is more of a slow cooking one, where I have needed to nurture my nervous system and gain an understanding of past experiences, and where the sense of quality of life as a mum has emerged slowly, and that is ok – now. 

Low-key self care as a life strategy

There have been times when low-key self care felt “optional” in the sense that I could survive without it, and then I’ve been through times where it didn’t feel optional because of the level of exhaustion I was experiencing. 

I used to want quick fixes, but really, one step a time will get you far over a longer period, and I feel that is such an important message, because there is a big focus on quick results in all areas of life. 

The way I look at it now, it’s more of a strategy in life. I know I experience more joy and happiness, when I’m well rested and my Baseline XXX is taken care of, and I know that my family does too. If something is off in our family, my first go-to is no longer to ask myself “what’s going on with my children so that things are not working out”. Instead I ask myself what I need, and when my basic needs are  looked after, I can check if other things are happening in the family that need addressing. It has taken me a long time to get to this point. 

Of course I slip back in old ways sometimes, and I still have a lot to learn about asking for and receiving support, but even so, with loving support from Simone and PowerWood, my basic habits have changed in a way I never thought possible. We’re all in different places in life. I’m passionate about promoting the strength in the slow cooking of new habits that support us and our family right from where we are today. When living with overexcitability, looking after our nervous system is the first step in growing awareness and becoming our own best supporter.

© Tine Landy 2020.  

Further reading: What is Low-key self care

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