Humans are social animals (yes, introverts, even you). This has been especially apparent during COVID times when we're much more limited in our social interactions.
So often when other people discuss self-care, the ideas listed are solitary: "me time," solo exercise, etc. This is why I talk about the 6 types of self-care that parents need. Spending time alone, especially when you have young children who are constantly in your space, can be valuable. But for a lot of parents, even though many of us spend almost every waking moment (and many sleeping ones as well) with our kids, we still need social interaction with peers and community members.
Part of this perspective includes the need for community care. Modern parents are feeling burned out, and it's not because all of us are personally failing--it's the systems that aren't set up for us to succeed. Not only do we need to recharge ourselves through self-care, but we all need to contribute to our communities so everyone can thrive.
A big idea behind self-care is that we need to take responsibility for our own happiness, but that doesn't mean we can't also invest energy in other people. All self-care has a ripple effect, but social self-care has a more immediate and direct impact since it involves multiple people by definition.
If you need more ideas to refill your cup, check out these ideas for physical self-care and mental self-care.
Social or community self-care is one of the 6 types of self-care I talk about for parents.
What Does Social Self-Care Look Like?
Social self-care is about cultivating connection and relationships in our lives. There's no "right" way to do this, so find a suggestion here to try, or think about what you're missing and want more of.
All of us just want to be heard, seen, and met where we are. The more you can do that for others and have them do that for you, the better off we'll all be.
Who Does Social Self-Care Involve?
Other humans! That could be:
- family members who respect your boundaries
- a romantic partner
- your spiritual leader
- a support group
- a sponsor
- a group chat/text
- a social group
- a book club
- community service, advocacy, or mutual aid groups
How Can You Connect With People?
The most obvious way is in person, but that might not be available right now (or you may want to reach out to someone who lives far away). The best way to connect is the way that works best for you right now. And this may change as your kids get older, you move to another area, or we're not in a global pandemic.
Are you a busy parent with young kids who don't sleep well? Maybe texting your bestie to check in, or having a group chat of like-minded parents is the support you need in this season.
Are you an introvert who hates social media but misses friends? Maybe you and a friend can write each other letters that go deeper than a status update.
Do you miss your in-person book club? How about an asynchronous Voxer or Marco Polo book discussion?
Is your family spread all over the country/world? What about a monthly Zoom family reunion?
Make your annual college friend weekend virtual. Have a friend do an online fitness challenge with you and be accountability partners. Recruit a meditation buddy. Watch the same show as some friends and discuss after each episode. Join a volunteer or mutual aid group. Show up to a protest (wear a mask!). Make sure to intentionally spend time with your partner that isn't just kid- or household-focused.
What else can you think of?
Having healthy boundaries also came up in the topic of mental and emotional self-care, and there is overlap here. Contacting family members or friends who don't respect your boundaries, are narcissists, or otherwise deplete you is NOT self-care.
Choose contact with people who light you up, energize you, or make you feel heard. In the same vein, saying no to social obligations that you don't actually want to attend is also a form of self-care. If Zoom calls drain you, don't do them when possible. If you'd rather call than text (or vice versa), do that. Find your people.
Remember that this is just one type of self-care we all need!
- Physical self-care
- Mental/Emotional self-care
- Social/Community self-care
- Lifestyle self-care
- Creative self-care
- Spiritual self-care
Looking for like-minded parents? Join the Semi-Crunchy Mama® Club on Mighty Networks (no Facebook required), or Mom School is coming soon. Sign up to get more info here.
If you need more support around self-care in general, download my free Self-Care Kit with printable worksheets to help you squeeze in self-care without having to think too hard.