When I think about the term “self-care” this is what I imagine: I wake up on my own time with no priorities, make myself a healthy breakfast, savor a nice jog, before I head to the spa, where I’d eat a healthy lunch and indulge in an afternoon of pure relaxation and bliss. I’d come home to a healthy meal already cooked by my husband. Afterwards, we’d curl up on the couch together and catch up on missed episodes of The Voice (because there’s no way he’d watch another rerun of Chopped!). Then, I’d drift off to a peaceful night’s rest…after we enjoyed some adult time first, of course!
Here’s my reality: I realize I’ve overslept, grab an Evolv Lifebar (which thankfully is healthy), and run downstairs to my car to head to work. If I’m lucky, I’ll have remembered to pack leftovers for lunch, otherwise, I’m screwed…like yesterday. I somehow make it through work without killing anyone or bawling my eyes out, and rush off to help coach my son’s Lego League. By the time we get home, it’s after 7:00 pm and none of us have eaten dinner. [Please insert an inordinate amount of expletives here.] I attempt to cook dinner and assist with homework at the same time. The result? Overcooked asparagus and a child that’s pretty convinced I truly don’t listen to him. I manage to shower (which I’m sure my husband is grateful for) and collapse into bed. No jog. No spa. No adult time. The only thing I had going for me was that I stuck with the my eating program – something not to be overlooked, especially since all day I envisioned myself pigging out on pizza and doughnuts!
Now, I know what I imagine of self-care on a daily basis is not the reality as I’m not a real-housewives of anywhere. But I also know that my reality (definitely yesterday’s reality) needs some work. I understand that I can’t help run a household effectively if I’m not taking care of myself. Self-care, in general, is a lot easier to do when life is going smoothly and you’re not in the middle of your own grief and chaos. Regardless of your beliefs are about self-care or what your daily routine looks like, let me just start off by saying it’s critical to your overall health and happiness – in any capacity.
Lately, I’ve been feeling bad for taking the time (or any time for that matter) I need in order to regenerate. Please welcome to the stage, my old friend, Catholic Guilt. OK, keep it moving CG, your presence in this episode is only for flashback cameo purposes. Though I think it’s true for most, there are moments of guilt when it comes to doing anything for ourselves. If you’re in need of some good old self-care (chances are you do), here are some things to keep in mind:
- Be kind to yourself. You need and deserve love – always – so don’t get off to the wrong foot by putting yourself down, or questioning the whats and whys of self-care. Just allow yourself to know what’s best for you and what you need most for your own well being.
- Practice some type of self-care daily. Whether it’s physical, emotional, spiritual, social, etc., there are many great options to choose! I write. A lot. That’s my self-care of choice these days. So, whatever it is for you, do it with love and gratitude.
- Know you’re doing it right. Honestly, there isn’t a right or wrong way to “do” self-care. Even if you can only muster repeating an uplifting mantra a handful of times, please know you’ve at least done something good for yourself today. Just because Betsy down the street meditates, does yoga, juices, and hand makes all of her kids school Halloween bags (you know, as a way to unwind and find her inner chi…which I think is total bullsh*t), doesn’t mean that you’re not doing enough or you’re failing at self-care…or life in general!
- Know its importance. Again, self-care is an essential part of keeping yourself healthy and sane. Stress increases inflammation, lowers your immune system, and wreaks havoc on your cortisol levels, adrenals, and overall health. It can make you sick, really sick, and in the middle of a crisis, that’s the last thing you need.
- Celebrate your successes. Give thanks to whatever you managed to do for yourself today. Yesterday, my triumph included harnessing control (power that surely was on loan from God) in order to make a healthy dinner, when all I really wanted to do was rip limbs off of those around me and order greasy takeout. That was it. And that was a win to me.
In addition to its health benefits, self-care is a great way to help bring some light to your darkness. I believe we all need, and deserve, more light in our lives. Remember, we’re all struggling with something, so please be kind to one another. XOXO
Looking for some simple self-care practices to help you get started? Here’s an article I found to be helpful: 45 Simple Self-Care Practices for a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul.