“Self-care is a necessity, not an indulgence.”
Emma Bennett, LCSW, whose specialty is working with new moms
Alarm goes off. Jump out of bed. Get the kids. Eat breakfast. Rush to work. Rush back home. Make dinner. Help with homework. Fall into bed. Toss and turn. Alarm goes off. Time to do it all again.
This is the cycle of many of our lives. Try to factor in time to work out, grocery shop, and keep up with your kids’ activities, and the frenzied pace is downright exhausting. You’re on a wheel of crazy, and you want to jump off. You are in desperate need of some time to relax, unwind, and focus … on you. Self-care is a big catchword now, and for good reason. But how do you naturally incorporate it effectively into your already hectic life?
According to Lexico.com, self-care is “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.”
Preserving. One’s. OWN. Health.
So, it’s not about being extravagant or selfish. Instead, you are doing what is necessary to stay healthy. Yet so few of us do it.
A 2015 survey conducted by HealthyWomen and Working Mother Magazine noted that 78% of moms put off taking care of themselves because they are tending to the needs of others. The order we give? First, kids, followed by pets, elderly relatives, your spouse, and then lastly, yourself. Admittedly, this can happen at times. But to consistently put yourself three places behind the family pet? There is a problem when you’ve created a lifestyle of denying yourself.
It’s not as if we’re not aware that our bodies and minds are giving us cues that it’s time for a break. Being constantly tired, short-tempered, anxious, stressed out, and even having physical aches and pains can all be symptomatic of the need to take a breather. However, we feel like things won’t get done, and our world will somehow turn upside down if we aren’t there to hold it up.
Perhaps your concern is money – you think you can’t afford an extravagant getaway or a little pampering. Money does not have to hinder you. There are many activities you can do that bring you rest, relaxation and rejuvenation and don’t cost a dime. For instance:
- Schedule a date with yourself to take a walk, breathe in fresh air, and enjoy nature. Note – I did not say workout. It’s fine if that is relaxing to you. But this an entirely different type of walking, with the purpose of slowing down.
- Read that book you’ve been itching to get to.
- Watch the movie or TV show you’ve wanted to see.
- Write or journal.
- Painting may be soothing to you.
- Reconnect with a hobby you’ve put aside.
- Take a nap during the day.
- Soak in a warm bath.
Whatever you do, make a point of completely unplugging. Turn off your phone and enjoying some alone time. You’ll be surprised how much more you can get done once you’ve refreshed.
If you find you can splurge a little financially, take a me-cation. I booked a hotel room for a couple of days. I watched movies, enjoyed the quiet beauty of nature, ate meals at a leisurely, unrushed pace, and even worked out a little. All because I wanted to. It was absolutely glorious. And taking a me-cation doesn’t have to be expensive. Accumulate hotel points, and find a hotel that serves a free breakfast. I left that excursion feeling like a new person. No, all my concerns and responsibilities didn’t disappear. But I could see it all with a fresh perspective. I am committed to making my time away an annual event.
You can also go to lunch with a friend, get a massage or a manicure, go on a hike, visit a museum, or even take a class on a subject of interest. These can be great ways to show that you love and care about you!
You may think taking time away from other pursuits just to do something for yourself doesn’t matter. It does. Physically, you are more well-rested, which can attribute to a stronger immune system. You are actually more productive – not less. Your renewed energy and ability to better focus allows you to better tackle tasks at hand. You also have increased self-knowledge. By thinking about what you want to do as well as what calms you, it enhances your ability to listen to and understand yourself.
And your self-esteem soars. Why? Because you see that you matter. You made yourself a priority. And it feels good. You also learn that taking time to rest is not lazy, and it provides a good example for your children to see the importance of taking care of themselves.
And of course, there are the on-going maintenance things that can help you. When you go through the effort of preparing healthy meals for your children, prepare yours too. When scheduling shots for your pet, schedule your physical as well. When buying a special treat for your spouse while grocery shopping, don’t forget a reward for you. And time spent cuddling with your kids can be relaxing, loving and fun.
Taking better care of yourself allows you to be there to also take care of the ones that matter. You’ll be a better mom, a better wife, a better friend, a better boss, and a better you!