About a two months ago I asked another mommy blogger that inspires me, Efabulous, if she would be willing to mentor me. After explaining to her everything going on in my life and how well I wasn’t really handling it (yes, you read that right), she gave me one task to complete over the following few weeks. Efab told me, “You need to take at least 10 minutes a day, everyday, just for yourself. Reflect, think, organize your thoughts, and let me know what you come up with during that time.” Relieved at such a simple task, I assured her that when I talked to her the next day I would share where my mind went in that 10 minute period. Needless to say, I got off work, picked my son up from school, got home and that 10 minutes never came. It took me about 3 days after agreeing to take 10 minutes to myself before I actually did, and for that 10 minute period, I sat in the closet and prayed.
My inability to easily complete this exercise made me realize how difficult it is for me to take time for myself. I am a mother, a crisis counselor at a suicide prevention crisis line, a daughter, a sister, a friend and recently a significant other. Between the first two aforementioned parts of my life alone I am beyond drained by the time my 15th waking hour comes around, but that doesn’t make it any less important for me to make sure I care for myself just as well as I care for others.
Self care is defined as care provided for you, by you. In other words, making sure you take care of yourself and making sure you do things that make you feel good as well as basic needs. The idea is a person must first make sure they are okay before trying to help someone else, just like you shouldn’t jump in a pool to save someone if you can’t swim, or how you are advised to secure your own oxygen mask on a plane before securing your child’s. I can say from experience that when you are responsible for so many different things, it’s easy to put your needs at the bottom of a list that continuously grows. So, I wanted to share some Self-Care tips to help you make sure you care for yourself in the midst of everyone and everything else you do.
- First Things First – MAKE YOURSELF A PRIORITY. You might not want to believe it, but sometimes finding the will and energy to complete activities of daily living, even as simple as brushing your teeth or showering daily, can be daunting when you are constantly giving everything in you to others. For me, when I first had my son, I would constantly forget to eat and drink. And by the end of the day I was doubly exhausted because I was undernourished. If you find yourself forgetting to take care of your basic needs, try scheduling an alarm to give yourself a specific time to do them. Or make a checklist of the activities of daily living that you need to complete. Click here for a free downloadable checklist.
- Be open – TALK TO SOMEONE YOU TRUST. As a crisis counselor, I devote a lot of my time to being a strong listener and giving people an outlet to talk through what is going on in their lives. I see the positive impact of having someone to talk to on a daily basis. I know the value being able to say things out loud without being judged or lectured, but even I have a hard time not holding everything in. Sometimes it is easy to rationalize not talking about what you are dealing with because you believe your family or friend “have their own problems to worry about”. And that may be true, but if they care about you then it is likely they would want to be there to support you as well, especially if you are a part of their support system. Believe me when I tell you, holding it in will do more harm than talking to someone you trust. Let someone support you for a change.
- Write it out – JOURNAL. If you’re like I was, you may think it is silly to write down your thoughts. You may feel it’s like talking to yourself. But believe me when I tell you, there is something about having a place to put things you can’t tell anyone else. Even if you can tell someone else, but just don’t want to, your journal is your own little book of truths to yourself. If you’re not sure how to journal or would like some help getting the most out of your journaling, Vernetta R. Freeney, founder of The Truth Confidant™ Journal and A Toast To Truths podcast offers tips and tools for mental detox through journaling. She offers training in journaling to positively impact your mental/emotional health as well as increase productivity.
- Take a breather – PRACTICE BREATHING EXERCISES. Obviously if you are reading this then you’re breathing. But according to the American Lung Association, breathing exercises help remove stale air from the lungs, increase oxygen levels in the blood, and reduce stress. Breathing exercises teach you how to use structured breathing to relax and get the best use of your lungs. The ALA offers guided breathing exercises on their website which you can find here.
- Soothe your muscles – TAKE A WARM BATH. Doing something special for yourself doesn’t have to be expensive. Something as simple as taking a warm bath can sometimes be just what you need. Soaking in warm water helps to soothe sore tense muscles, relieves stress and encourages relaxation. All you really need is a tub and the water. But if you want to enhance your tub soaking experience, you can always add things like bath salts, candles, and music. For me, there is nothing like the Ledisi station of Pandora, a scented candle and some soothing, detoxing bath salt. You don’t have to spend a day at the spa to pamper yourself. I like the all natural bath salts made by Go Natural (BLACK Lava Bath is my favorite). I get a quality product and get to support an awesome female entrepreneur at the same time.
Self-care is important. You have to take care of yourself just as much as you do anyone else.
For more information on self-care and 31 Self-Care Ideas, download my FREE E-Book below!