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Self-Care Happens When, Where, and How You Least Expect It

Practical Self-Care Tips for the Busy Person, Part 2.

My son and I recently returned from a Father and Son trip. It's tempting for me to say that taking a vacation is great self-care, but that's too cliche-ish and often simply not true. There is a pastor who once said, "Either take a vacation or stay at home with your family, but there is no such thing as a family vacation."

Vacations can be stressful, are almost always costly, and hardly relaxing unless designed by you to be simple, like a camping trip. But, I'm past my tent living days and perform much better after a restful sleep in a soft bed in an air-conditioned room.

But I digress.

My son and I had a great trip even though it was costly, exhausting, and stressful. But as a whole, our trip did nothing for my self-care except for one important thing: We built memories together that will last a lifetime. We laughed (I never knew he was such an incredible sense of humor), we rode rollercoasters (I had no idea he knew SO MUCH about rollercoasters), we explored Chicago (He picked our destinations and methods of travel), and we rested together in our air-conditioned rooms (he told me I snored so I bought him some earplugs). We had an incredible time together!

So how is all this self-care? When I was a boy, younger than my son is now, my dad and I went on our own father/son vacations. I fondly remember them very, very well. Those memories are precious to me. When I told my dad about my trip with my son, my dad's eyes lit up with fond memories of our trips. Those memories are precious to him, too.

You see, having special memories with those you love IS self-care. What better reprieve is there from the daily grind and stress of reality than to take a moment and recall those memories with loved ones? Creating those memories can also be self-care, too.

I recently lost one of my best friends who died due to complications from COVID and was worked too hard by his employer. His loss hurts me, a lot. But even in that pain of losing him, he has given me years of GREAT memories. His goofy smile. How he called me Padawan. How I saw him refuse to give up on people. I no longer cry when I think of him. I smile because those memories make me feel good, not sad. Self-care.

When my son and I got back from our trip, I asked him what his favorite memory of us in Chicago is. I expected to hear him talk about all the destination locations we visited. Instead, his favorite memory is of us sitting in a pizza parlor playing checkers on my phone as we waited to be served our first deep-dish Chicago-style pizza.

Wow! I told him that was my favorite memory, too. We will both remember that for our lifetime and when the day comes and I die, he will cry, but eventually, our favorite memory of Chicago will come to his mind and he will smile. Self-care.

Here are three ways you can build good memories with the person you love:

  1. Play a game together. It doesn't matter if it's a video game, board game, or cards.

  2. Take evening walks together or exercise together.

  3. Have at least a family meal together at the table at least once a week or on a weekend.

Now, go build some memories and take care of yourself and others.

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