Radical Self-care – The Secret to Living a Creative Life

Peace at Camp GLPToday – this post is for you. The busy, exhausted parent. The overworked and under appreciated educator. The creative adult who feels too overwhelmed and uninspired by daily life to be creative.

I’m going to share my recent struggles and realizations about self-care and hopefully it will inspire you to come up with your own radical self-care routine. It is a process, but it is so worth it!

Like the oft-used comparison of getting your breathing apparatus on before helping others in an airplane, before you can care for and inspire creativity in others, you need to make sure you are meeting your needs first.

It is hard to give ourselves the gift of time for self-care. It seems greedy, even selfish. The guilt of sacrificing time with your family, asking your partner to handle the child-care. Saying “no” to a project, someone you love, a volunteer activity, or leaving the classrooms with things still to be done. The guilt, the shame is very real. It hurts. You have to take the risk and work through the discomfort because engaging in regular and deliberate self-care is one of the most important things you can do for yourself, your family, your community.

The secret to living a creative life is this: The more time and energy you invest in radical self-care the more creative you will be, the more connected to your family. You will be happier and more productive as you operate from a state of ease and grace.

So what is “radical self-care?” As an adjective radical means: of or going to the root or origin; fundamental.

The term radical self-care is new to me. I am still exploring how I can apply radical self-care to my life. The concept was introduced to me at Camp GLP – a weekend summer camp for entrepreneurs hosted by the amazing husband and wife team of Jonathan and Stephanie Fields from Good Life Project. I went for the connection and business development. What became immediately apparent to me was I was missing something so much more fundamental in my life.

I, like so many teachers and caregivers have a habit of running on empty, living in a constant state of “burn out.” I have not created the time or space or habits that ensure I am taking care of myself. Many experiences at camp highlighted the need for radical self-care. It was so interesting seeing how over 300 other highly creative light-bringers have developed their own self-care rituals, and speak with others who just realized their own lack of  self-care was leading to illness and burnout.

In her keynote on self-care, Aviva Romm shared this awesome quote by Audre Lorde:

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

Aviva also had some great advice about creating time for self-care. For those who over-commit themselves or have the bad habit of saying “yes” to please someone without thinking about what it means to you, she suggested the following exercises:

The Pause:
Give yourself 20-30 seconds before you say yes to something. Take some deep breaths and check in with your body. How does saying “yes” feel. Is it easy and light? Does it cause a block or tightening somewhere in your body?

Ask yourself: “What is your motivation for saying yes?” If it is because you are trying to avoid something negative – a confrontation, feelings of guilt, desire to make someone else happy, you are feeling pressured? Be honest with yourself.

This is hard to do, but with practice it can make a big difference in your interactions and your workload!

The self-care Quickie:
Breath in deeply through your nose for a count of 4 while saying to yourself “IAM.”
Breathe out deeply through your mouth for a count of 4 while saying to yourself “At Peace” Take several deep breaths this way.

One of my first Camp GLP workshops was titled, “Radical Self-care” by the energetic, charismatic Kristoffer Carter (KC) from This Epic Life. One of the cornerstones of KC’s radical self-care routine is Meditation.

I have to admit I have had a love/hate relationship with meditating over the years. I know the numerous documented benefits, but I have struggled with giving myself the time and space to sit and actively do nothing. I know there is more to it than “doing nothing” but that is the guilt monkey in my mind speaking.

The thing is, I feel better, I think clearer, I have an easier time being creative when I practice meditation. I just don’t do it regularly. So this is going to be the cornerstone of my radical self-care plan that I am building. KC has some great free meditations on his website and also has programs available on the Insight Timer App.

Vitality Brainstorm:
KC had lots of tips for bringing more self-care into our lives and routines. He asked us to brainstorm around the word “VITALITY” and ask ourselves what we are already doing now, and what else we can do to bring more vitality into our lives. He asked us not to consider just physical vitality (although that is important!) but also emotional, mental and spiritual vitality. This is a very powerful exercise, and I can’t recommend it enough!

From the brainstorm, we were all able to identify areas and activities where we can practice radical self-care in our lives. One area I identified as needing some radical improvement was with my diet. Another is that I need to bring some more joy and fun in my life, not always to be in “work” mode. To be able to release the guilt about not doing “something” and just “be.”

My personal prescription for my radical self-care: create space and time to develop a meditation practice. Re-examine my relationships with food (especially sugar!) and to create space and time in my life daily for mini-adventures, new experiences, and synchronicity.

I hope this post will inspire you to create your own radical self-care rituals, and you will see the benefits flow through and inspire creativity and connection in your life!

Posted in Activites/Games, Creativity/Inspiration.


  1. The “pause” is something I first learned about in the book “Essentialism”. Well worth a read if you haven’t already – it dovetails nicely with a lot of what you wrote.

    My main self-care issue is diet. When I’m eating well, most everything falls into place. My own creative time has been withering away but I haven’t quite figured out what my issue is.

    • Thank you for the recommendation, David! I have not read “Essentialism” but I will add it to my reading list 🙂

      Everything does seem to hinge on diet, doesn’t it?

      One suggestion to rediscover your creative time: Try to figure out what is getting in your way. Is it a mental block? Not having enough time? Not having enough energy? Loss of motivation? Not feeling supported? Then identify one single thing you can do TODAY that will help you. I know I tend to feel very isolated in my creativity, so having an accountability partner I meet up over Skype has really helped me be motivated and feel connected.

  2. Hey!

    I really love this post, just stumbled upon your blog today via MMM forum.

    It is amazing what a mindful pause and a breath can do for you! Making it a habit is the tricky part indeed. It reminds me of the informal day to day practice of the principals of mindfulness based meditation, which is a great technique.

    If I may recommend a book you may like (it’s a favorite of mine): Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach. Check it out. I will be writing about this stuff too so come visit my corner of the internet if you are bored 🙂

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