What does self care really mean and how can you make sure you're getting enough?
Updated: Apr 8
You've probably heard things like, take a nap when the baby naps, why do today what can be put off until tomorrow, or take care of yourself. But what does it really mean to take care of ourselves, and how can we do this when life is just so, busy?
First, there are a lot of perceptions placed on us from society that have needed to be abandoned long ago. Such as, the man needs to be the bread winner, women's place is in the kitchen, dad's have all the fun while mom has to be the disciplinarian, women shouldn't seek money and success the same way men should.... these are ancient, bs, beliefs that need to stop now.
Because of these beliefs, many times we feel like we have to work extra hard to overcome them. Many of us are spending longer hours at work, and then coming home and still fulfilling the "wifely duties" of housework, and dinner, and kids baths, and it is really hard to have (or not feel guilty about having) time to ourselves! We've got to change that mindset.
Whenever you fly somewhere and the stewardess is giving the emergency instructions, we're all told that if the oxygen masks fall from the ceiling, we are to put them on ourselves before helping someone else with it. This is the same mindset we need to have in life. Get the "that's selfish" thought out of your head and think about this. If we are constantly putting everything else first... work, family, friends, pets, the dishes in the sink, the laundry, little Hank needs his toy fixed, hubby needs help with an outdoor project, and the list goes on and on and on; by the time you lay down in bed, your body aches, you have a headache and if you're lucky a glass of wine, and two minutes of peace before one of the kids is yelling that they're thirsty.
So how do you fit in time for self care?
Make it a priority.
You cannot give to others what you don't have yourself. Repeat that. Again. One more time.
What good is a pitcher of lemonade on a hot summer day, if it has been poked full of holes and can't hold the lemonade long enough to fill everyone's cups? If we keep stringing ourselves out and never taking time to patch our holes, we will always be running on empty. That back pain you've had for a while now, the extra weight that has been put on from stress, feeling like you can't remember everything that you used to, these are side affects of not taking care of ourselves.
Steps to Self Care
Find one thing you really like and make time for that. Maybe it's a bath with candles, or reading a book, sitting outside and looking at the stars, listening to a good podcast, doing yoga, pick a time of day to do that thing, and make it happen. Maybe you just need to ask the hubby to keep the kids busy for a few minutes, or you can plan to do this in the morning before everyone is awake, or at night when they're all in bed. You can set your lunch time at work to be you time, if you can get away from everyone and do what you like for a few minutes. Whatever time you think would be best for you, set it and stick to it.
Let go of the idea that it's wrong to think about yourself. There is a big difference between selfishness and self care. So keep telling yourself it's ok to have time for you! In fact it's more than ok, it's extremely necessary. When you take care of yourself you are replenishing and rejuvenating yourself and in turn will be better able to care for others.
Think about your sleep patterns and what affects them. If you know that looking at your phone or watching tv at night keeps you from getting restful sleep, try to set limits.
Watch what you eat. Not necessarily going on a diet, but can you feel what foods feel good to eat? We all know the types of foods our bodies need, so maybe try to make sure you're getting enough of the good stuff.
What are your goals for life? How do you want to be remembered? Think about what your ultimate goal is in life and work towards that. Spend time with those you love and choose to do what makes you happy and fulfills your ultimate purpose. Focusing on living this way will help you always make choices that are good for YOU.
Say no. Know your limits, you can't make everyone happy.
Have a positive mindset. Everything in life is based on energy. Seeking happiness is not the goal because happiness is an emotion, just like we don't strive to be angry or depressed. What will help us be happy is being positive and living for purpose. Try to not focus on the negative things in life, those will only bring you down and consume you. Make it a practice to meditate. This not only helps you relax, it gives you a beautiful outlook on life, and the positive energy grows.
Putting yourself first can be a hard practice when it's not what you're used to. But keep reminding yourself that it's important and every day, take a little time for you. You'll figure it out. And you'll feel so much better for it.