What does Self-Care really look like?

Stretching has become a MUST after walking & workouts.

I’ve had intimate conversations with women for the past 20 years. Lying on my massage table, they’ve spoken of things that are bothering them, things that they KNOW they need to start doing for themselves, and how frustrating it is when you can’t find the time. I know my own version of self-care has evolved dramatically over the past 10 years. I think the question~ “What does self-care really look like?”, is a valid one!

Self-care means something different to all of us. While some women love to get a manicure, that’s not my cup of tea. But more power to ya! Things like hair, nails, grabbing coffee with a friend, a massage/pedicure, some of those fall into the category of personal preferences. But there are also things that I think EVERYONE needs to do!

Read on to find out more about how to start and let me know what you would add to the list!

Who deserves self-care?

I find that women are BUSY. When I think of women in general, that’s honestly the first word that comes to mind. When I’m working on women, the emotion conveyed to me the most is that feeling of tiredness. Wearing too many hats. Trying to do too much for loved ones. And they (WE!!) are tired!

Yet we feel guilty when we take time for or spend money on ourselves. We just don’t know how we can fit anything else in! We don’t like to ask for help. We’ll just do it ourselves!

I’ve been very guilty of this in my own life. I tend to do too much for my kids. When I think back on my own childhood, I remember this trait in my mom as well. Service was one of the ways she showed her love. And that, in turn feels loving to me. So it seems natural that I would do the same.

But if I’m honest, some of the ways my mom served me resulted in a lack of responsibility in me. I always knew someone else would pick up the pieces. So what I see as loving & caring, my husband sees in a different light. In his eyes I go overboard and the boys are taking advantage of me. Yet I do it of my own will & volition! This depends a LOT on how you were raised. Love itself can look very different in each of our eyes!

But I would challenge you to think HONESTLY about all that you do for your loved ones and see where you could lighten your load. Maybe you could delegate some chores to your kiddos? We really do them a disservice when we don’t teach them to work and that being part of a family means everyone pitches in in some way. It doesn’t just automatically fall on our shoulders as Mom or the woman of the house.

Self-Care or Crutch?

Sometimes we need to take a closer look at some of the unhealthy ways we feel that we’re treating ourselves. If we’re using something UNhealthy to comfort or escape a busy/stressful life, we may have gotten out of balance and need to do some soul searching about the role of that substance or behavior. Of course I’m thinking mainly of alcohol here, but also food, zoning out on our phones or binge watching our favorite Netflix shows every night.

Enjoying a glass of wine, some goodies here & there, looking forward to watching our show; there’s nothing inherently wrong with these activities. I just know from personal experience how easy it is to slide right into excess with something I enjoy. And before I know it, I’m doing that thing every night and I get irritated if anything gets between me & my thing.

Several years ago I found myself in that situation. I was extremely tired from trying to get my yoga & fitness classes going. I was doing too much; physically & mentally I was just whooped. So when I came home each night, I expected to watch t.v. UNINTERRUPTED for a few hours to “unwind”.

I knew in my heart that something was off. It just didn’t feel right. Yet I was too tired & overextended to change for a long time. I finally had to face that fact that I was doing too much. It wasn’t healthy. None of it. Lying on the couch each night for hours was not restoring me! The only true restoration was going to come from addressing my lack of boundaries in my work life.

With a little bit of denial & minimization these things are easy to ignore. We feel we owe it to ourselves. When what we really owe ourselves is an honest evaluation of how we’re living, how we’re spending our time, & where we’re out of balance.

These things are a MUST!!!

These are the things that I feel we absolutely must be doing for ourselves or we’re going to wind up burnt out, stressed out, resentful, and maybe even sick.

  • Fueling ourselves well. Mostly whole foods. Learning to love plants! Less processed foods! ** Give yourself time here. There’s a lot of variables that go into determining why & how we eat the way we do. It might be time to take an honest look at the role food plays in your life. If you really want to start down a healthier path, this aspect is so important to approach with love, openness, and curiosity.
  • Exercise. The American Heart Association suggests a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate intensity OR 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise each week.https://r.search.yahoo.com/_ylt=AwrDQrwUIrlhaWgAzj0PxQt.;_ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzIEdnRpZANCQVNFTElORVlUXzEEc2VjA3Ny/RV=2/RE=1639551636/RO=10/RU=https%3a%2f%2fcpr.heart.org%2fen%2fhealthy-living%2ffitness%2ffitness-basics%2faha-recs-for-physical-activity-in-adults/RK=2/RS=NyfDAsndzeXlarlN2UOAKqxsbuY- Aside from your basic perfunctory exercise, I suggest you find some kind of movement you LOVE. Something that makes your soul come alive! Maybe it’s running (not this girl), maybe it’s dance, maybe you haven’t found it yet. But I promise you, if you keep searching, you’ll find it! Don’t give up!
  • Sleep & rest. I struggled with this one for many years. I had some broken thinking around letting myself rest that I’ve had to look at. Plus as I’ve gotten older, I’m just dang tired and it’s much easier to succumb to a nap in the afternoon!
  • Time in nature. This is another one that I let slip by as I got older. I remember how much I loved being outdoors as a kid, but as I got older & busier, I lost touch with nature. I’m delighted to tell you that since I got sober, I’ve fallen in love with the great outdoors again! Hiking or biking in the mountains or doing ANYTHING by water fills my cup and makes me feel truly grateful and connected to God and this amazing Earth we live on.
  • Spirituality. Quiet time/prayer/reading/journaling. This for me means time spent in God’s word each morning. Knowing what God is trying to tell me is the most important thing in my life and I can’t know that without being in HIs word & prayer. I spent many years living for myself and I know all too well the emptiness & searching that that kind of thinking produced in me. For as long as I’m alive, I will battle that. But I know that if I want my life to truly mean something, I’ve got to fight my own selfish & self-righteous tendencies. I know that I’m a better, more loving & forgiving person when I make this a priority each morning.

Optional (but strongly suggested ; ))

*** Pampering! Maybe for you this means a massage or facial. Maybe it’s a mani/pedi with your girlfriends. Maybe you go and get your lashes or your brows done. It doesn’t matter what it is. What matters is that it feels a little decadent. It’s a TREAT!

Just be careful not to go overboard here, because it’s easy to do. I know in the past, I’ve fallen victim to strategic advertising aimed at telling me what I should be doing for myself, only to later realize that it was a dumb idea and I didn’t enjoy it. But I fell for it! I spent money on something because the subliminal message I received was that I SHOULD. That’s why I don’t do the manis & pedis anymore, because as much as I WANT to enjoy them, I really don’t! So I honor that and instead do something that works for me.

*** Time to let your hair down! Maybe it’s a night on the town, going to a concert, or maybe you’re really into scrapbooking. In the past few years, I’ve developed an interest in restoring old furniture. I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I enjoy it anyways! I like to stroll through thrift stores and see what I can find. Then I get on Pinterest for ideas of how to sand, paint, and update it with new knobs and pulls.

It’s just a fun way to spend some time and it gets the creative juices flowing! I encourage you to find something like that for yourself. Know that you may have to experiment for a while before you find it, and that’s normal. Just have fun while you’re trying and it’s worth it!

Finding what works for you

It takes time and getting to know yourself better to find what self-care means to you. It doesn’t have to look just like what your friend Karen does for herself. I didn’t start to figure this stuff out until my 40’s, so don’t despair if you’re really not sure what it looks or feels like yet.

I think the important thing is to slow down enough to understand when you feel depleted and maybe just go for a walk and see how that feels. Not feeling it? Make a cup of tea, grab a book, find your favorite chair and see if that works!

When we slow down, we can be more present and in tune with how we’re feeling vs. living on autopilot. It took many years for me to learn how to do this along with lots of trial & error. But now that I know, I’m able to stay more balanced and less frazzled.

𝐒𝐢𝐠𝐧 𝐮𝐩 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐦𝐲 𝐅𝐑𝐄𝐄 𝐞𝐁𝐎𝐎𝐊 𝐭𝐨 𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐧 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐰𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐧𝐞𝐬𝐬 𝐣𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐧𝐞𝐲! 𝟓 𝐝𝐚𝐲𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐜𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐫, 𝐬𝐢𝐦𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐩𝐬! https://inspirewellnessstudio.net/wellness/

Let me know what works for you!