Self-care is more than getting your nails done, shopping at Target by yourself or getting your favorite drink once a day. It’s not physically pampering yourself and hiding from your daily to-do lists.
Self-care is long term good mental health. It is taking care of relationships that lift you up and encourage you to be a happy you. It is setting down your stress and letting your soul rest for awhile to protect yourself from burn out.
But it is also continual positive self-talk. That word, “continual” can sound exhausting right? That means everyday and all the time. Let me give you an example, after having my first baby I looked in the mirror and thought, “Wow I look exhausted” and “This won’t last forever, I won’t look this terrible forever…” Well 3 kids later, I’m still tired and the 1 year old doesn’t sleep. But go back to when mr. L got diagnosed with autism I realized sleep probably wasn’t going to be in the cards for a VERY long time. So I looked for something good I liked about myself and decided, “I might look tired, But I can physically hold my babies and I like my smile”.
This is where the word, “Continual” comes in to play. Every time I looked in the mirror I would add to my thoughts, “But I can hold my babies and I like my smile” and over time the daily thoughts of looking exhausted slipped away and were replaced by, “I’m a good mom and I like my smile”
This can look different for everyone based on what kinds of relationships give you joy. If you are lucky to have supportive family, then making sure you spend time with them or trying to call them once a week is a form of self-care. But if the people who raised you enjoy throwing guilt and shame your way, then creating and enforcing boundaries is the self-care route for you.
I enjoy spending time with my children, husband, and there are a few people I like to try to call once a week, including my grandmother. I also like to get lunch or dessert with my friend Suzanne once a week and I enjoy making small talk with the other special needs parents at drop off and pick up for mr. L.
These relationships help me feel connected to my household, my extended family, my home town, my special needs tribe, and my friends.
I have a friend Megan, who runs marathons as part of her self-care and I admire her for her commitment and ability to do it. Not only does she get to get outside but she signs up for races and goes! It’s amazing and I hope to pick up running some day again.
For me, physical self-care includes always refilling my water bottle before driving anywhere and drinking the whole thing before getting home. I try to limit eating out to once a week, eating a fruit every day, flossing everyday, and soaking in the tub a few times a week to just relax.
So the things I mentioned above, I’m pretty good at staying up with. I mean part of taking time for yourself includes being nice to yourself when things slip and you have to reevaluate where you are and get back at it.
But the 2 things I’m currently working at are, de-junking, removing clutter and mentally calming/reassuring myself.
Junk & clutter
I have a storage bin by my front door that I try to toss something into it every day. Once it’s full I try to get it out of my home within a week! I try to resale then donate all of it. I have found places that want used clothes, toys, shoes, grocery bags, socks and even my kids underwear! I’m tired of constantly cleaning, organizing, and picking up. So stuff has got to go.
Calm & Reassuring
And lastly, a real personal and constant battle I have is reminding myself that I don’t have to get it all done as quickly as possible. I stress over dishes, laundry, and getting out the door on time- even though I usually get all those things done every stink’n day.
So I have to stop myself, breath, and remind myself that it’s ok, it’s going to get done, and even if it doesn’t get done that’s ok too. Because guess what! There will still be dishes to wash tomorrow and there will ALWAYS be laundry to clean, fold, and put away.
Taking a minute to breath and calm myself unclenches my jaw, relaxes my muscles, and keeps the headache from coming on.
The rabbit hole
If I would let the stress set in I’d start running in circles trying to get it all done. Because I would measure my self worth as a mother based on the dishes and the laundry and the perfect dinner… But that’s not what my husband, kids, or friends want. And honestly it’s not what I want.
So I don’t think self-care is a yearly vacation, a monthly date, a weekly class, or a daily drink. I think self-care is a daily choice. But that’s just me, what do you think self-care is?
What do you do to stay calm, centered, healthy, and over all positive? Let me know in the comments below and please like and share!