Now more than ever, the need to take care of YOU exists! For almost a year, we’ve been navigating a sea of stress that’s separate from even our regular pressures and pains of daily life. We’ve been forced to take on added responsibilities for our families and our communities. We are shouting from the rooftops how tired we are. How overwhelmed we are. And really, how utterly OVER IT we are.
While the commiserating is oddly unifying, it obviously doesn’t change anything. However, something that will deliver a difference and help you resume the ranks with renewed strength, is if we make ourselves a priority amidst the mayhem. We cannot serve others if we are weak. And we cannot be the best version of ourselves if we are weary.
What does self-care look like for you? Is it fitness? Nutrition? Is it pampering? Indulging? Don’t let self-care scare you. It doesn’t have to be what the media tells you it is or what your neighbor, friend or family says it is. It is simply a practice of taking care of your own well-being. Which for many of us, means our happiness and our health. Yes, many people focus on their physical health. But our spiritual and mental health are just as important, if not more. We take care of ourselves so that we can continue to take care of others. They say, you cannot fill another cup if your own is empty.
For me, self-care wasn’t something I really believed in until a few years ago. To be honest, I thought it sounded corny. Something that people said to excuse them for being selfish. And I definitely didn’t want to appear like I was selfish. However, after my youngest was born, I found myself drowning in the highest level of exhaustion, suffering from postpartum depression, anxiety and loneliness. My body ached all the time. I was weak in more ways than one. I was a hot mess. Until one day I realized that I absolutely needed to do something FOR ME. Something that would help me find myself again. Something that would allow me to step away (even briefly) from my roles as mom and wife and allow me to feel good as a separate individual.
As I sat and stared at my sad reflection in the bathroom mirror, I knew what I wanted was to get fit and be physically active again. My happiest times in my previous years always included tennis, biking and working out. I am most definitely an endorphin-chaser. Except I honestly couldn’t remember the last time I had picked up a racquet. I didn’t own a bike anymore. And even after working at the YMCA for a couple years, I still didn’t work out. So, this was honestly going to take some a lot of effort. But I made a firm decision that I would find a way.
And I did.
I joined a new gym that changed my life and I found myself working out 4-5 days a week. I got back out on the tennis court. And I purchased a new bike. Along the way, my return to a fit lifestyle started to include other forms of self-care. I started to become more vocal in my marriage, telling my husband that I was going out to dinner with friends and I didn’t want any texts or phone calls unless someone was headed to the hospital. Informing my oldest that he could make lunch for himself and his little sister and allow me to stay curled up on the couch while I got some uninterrupted reading in. Taking time each night to indulge in my skincare routine. All of these things make me feel good. They support my well-being. And they allow me to feel refreshed so that I can be a better mom and wife.
Now, you don’t have to do any of these things. But find what works for YOU and do it, regardless of what it looks like. Perhaps it’s a monthly massage or facial; a spa treatment that allows you to get out of the house and pamper yourself properly. Maybe it’s mindful eating and planning meals around what YOU like and want and not what your family always wants. Maybe it’s indulging in some sort of trashy television show that you can watch without any interruption or distraction and only includes your favorite pint of Ben & Jerry’s. Is it shopping for a couple hours where you can browse and peruse at your leisure? Is it sitting in a quiet room in your house so you can meditate or journal your thoughts? Is it a nice hot bath with the bathroom door locked? Is it getting outside to take a long walk and enjoy nature? It can cost a lot or a little. Or maybe nothing at all! Whatever it is that makes YOU smile, feel recharged and renewed, I would encourage you to do it. Time is precious. I get it. But so are you! And you deserve to carve out the necessary minutes it takes to lift your spirits and allow you to selfishly strengthen your soul.
Self-care and self-love tends to get a bad rap. But try and remember that this is considered a desirable characteristic rather than a narcissistic one. You’re taking care of yourself so that you can better take care of others. Be brave and bold in the practice. You’re a pretty amazing individual and it’s alright to put yourself first from time to time. January is the most popular month to start a new healthy habit. It’s also the most popular month to quit one. Let this year be the one where you launch your self-care and you never look back.
Start with yourself. It’s the easiest thing to control.