The what, when, how, and why of self-care
I love this Anne Taintor card of a woman lying in bed in her silk nightgown, looking out at nothing in particular, contemplating her exquisite and uncomplicated life.
The caption reads: “I dreamed my whole house was clean.”
1950’s glamour aside, this card says it all on so many levels. How often do we feel remorseless about taking time to do something that feels good (sleep!?) – just for our selves? Or have the courage to opt out of doing something that feels like a “should” and might disappoint someone?
An over arching theme in many of my coaching calls with moms is that they desire to really feel their feelings to their full and natural completion. The thing is, if we don’t feel safe and secure in our self worth, we will naturally push away any “dark” feelings because they feel too overwhelming. What we need is a container that allows us to feel safe enough to let go… For me, that container is called self-care. So, today I will be sharing 5 FACTS about self-care with the intention of making it difficult for you NOT do indulge in it.
FACT #1: Self-care is NOT optional if you want to live a full, joy filled life. It is not an extra-curricular activity. It is not something to do when you’re sick or everyone else in the house is taken care of. In the world of “moming,” self-care is right up there with breathing. You wouldn’t stop breathing just because your child had a need. In fact, it would be much more helpful to your child if you took a deep breath BEFORE helping them. Just one calm, slow breath is an act of self-care.
Fact #2: The “self” part of self-care means precisely that: by yourself, for yourself–not for your spouse, mother, child, dog, neighbor, best friend…! We cannot possibly be of service to anyone when we are overextended and our circuits are fried.
Fact #3: You can give yourself a little nudge (this is especially crucial if you are a new mom or have recently entered into a transitional period) by adopting one or more of these ways to choose self-care instead:
WAYS TO OPT OUT GRACEFULLY:
- Decline graciously with “Thanks for asking, I’m sorry it’s not going to work for me this time.”
- Turn it over to voicemail: Put a message on your voice mail letting callers know that it may take a few days to return their call.
- Add an away message: Put an auto-responder message on your email service saying that you will not be replying to any emails for a while. If their email is important, ask them to resend it after a certain date.
- Unsubscribe to email lists that no longer serve and support you; cancel your subscription to the newspaper or a magazine that you never read.
“I live by the truth that ‘No’ is a complete sentence.” -Anne Lamott, O Magazine
For more creative ways to say “no” check out this link.
If you’re still too attached to being in control, or needed (I know I often am) remember to keep it simple: no fuss, no guilt. And if you do feel twinges of “missing out” or remorse, use them as an opportunity to embrace them.
Fact #4: Self-care can sometimes feel uncomfortable. Every time you step out of your comfort zone to take care of yourself before you take care of someone you care about, you are bringing in more light, moving more energy, and triggering the fight-or-flight response. Like an acupuncturist, you are “agitating” stuck energies – on purpose – as a way to move and release them.
Self-care is the “yin” to the “yang” of motherhood (more on this in and upcoming post.) It works to calm down your nervous system, help you feel safe, and bring you back into balance.
Fact #5: Practicing self-care is deeply and soulfully nourishing. It is like a lotion or a balm that soothes and smoothes the parts of yourself that may still feel a bit raw, jangled, and not quite ready to embrace the lighter energies of living clear. It also helps you tap more joy.
Your turn: When was the last time you put your needs first over the needs of others? And how did it feel? What is one act of self-care that nudges you out of your comfort zone?
Is it taking a nap in the middle of the day? Is it watching one of your guilty pleasures on TV without having to apologize for it? Is it letting a family member sort out a problem on their own because you don’t have the time or the bandwidth to help them?
Today say yes to self-care and no to anything that does not serve and support you.
(And allow the squirmy monkey mind to not like it one bit.)
Tomorrow, I launched my first virtual Mom-ME Circle. For 5 weeks we will be doing a deep dive into how we can take care of ourselves so that we can better serve those we love. There are still a few spots left, but not for long! If you would like to join us you can register here: mom-mecircle.com/virtual.