Self-care is constantly on my mind lately. It’s one of the best ways to honor yourself and your worth, but keeping up with it can be so hard.
It’s so easy to put other’s needs before our own, to put things off for “another time,” and to prioritize busy work over soul work.
After my dog passed away this summer, I fell into some bad habits. Eating poorly, staying up too late and not taking great care of myself. I was sad and was finding it very difficult to manage all of my mama obligations with two toddlers home with me for the summer. The less I took care of myself, the harder things became. My nerves were shot, my patience was short and my motivation was low. It’s why I haven’t posted here in awhile, I just couldn’t keep up with it all.
I woke up from a nightmare a few nights ago. I dreamt I was in a flash flood with my dog and we were drowning. I tried desperately to get him up on a ledge to save him, but the harder I tried, the further under the water I sank. There were people standing on that ledge watching us, but despite my begging no one would help us. It was all up to me, and I just kept sinking.
For a long time I did feel like I was drowning, drowning in taking care of all my little ones.
I have no regrets, I’m so blessed to be able to give my all to them, but with autumn drifting in, my two-year old starting part-time nursery school and the leaves beginning to fall, it’s been feeling like a time for new beginnings. Like it’s time to do a better job of taking care of myself so that I can better enjoy this little life of mine and be stronger and more sturdy for whatever storms lie ahead. Perhaps you can relate?
I know a lot of us struggle with prioritizing self-care. Whether you’re taking care of kids, elderly parents, or just the busy demands of life and work, it’s so easy to put yourself last (and to feel guilty when you don’t). Merely watching the news and the political climate these days can send us into a whirlpool of despair and exhaustion leaving us unmotivated to take the actions that nourish us.
But if we want to be present and effective in any area of our lives, if we want to best serve our families and the world, we need to make self-care a priority. No one can do this for us, it’s up to each of us alone.
Below are some of the things that have been helping me.
Create a Self-Care Routine
The best way to ensure your self-care remains a priority, is to create a time and routine for it.
For me, I know I need to work out and meditate in the morning to feel strong and grounded for the rest of the day. I’ve also started using the Emotional Freedom Technique (also known as tapping) for things that are troubling me and causing me stress and it’s been so helpful.
Lately I’ve found that when life gets really busy and hectic, it helps to have a checklist I can look at to make sure I’m doing the things I need to do to thrive. You can find a link to a free weekly self-care scheduler and a 30-day self-care habit tracker at the end of this post in case it would be helpful to you as well.
Make Self-Care a Priority
If you want to make self-care more of a priority but don’t know where to start, here are a few simple and easy ideas for taking better care of yourself (plus 35 additional ideas at the end of this post):
Your Body & Energy
Commit to Exercising Daily. Exercise daily, even if only for ten minutes. This can be anything from yoga, to running, to lifting weights, to simply taking a long walk. Schedule it in. Make it a priority. If you can, do it first thing in the morning so it brings you energy for the day. When my kids were home with me, I’d do simple yoga videos at home so they could join me. Lately, I’ve been going back to the gym to really work up a sweat, and it feels amazing.
Eat Mindfully. This isn’t about counting calories, but about paying attention to what you eat, how it nourishes your body and where it comes from. Think about the effect it will have on your body after it’s consumed. Will it cause a blood sugar spike and later an energy crash? Will it weigh heavily on you? Will it add nutrients to your body or deplete it? Where did what you’re about to eat come from? Did it suffer? The more you think mindfully about what you’re about to consume, the healthier your choices will be.
Use Essential Oils. I’m just starting with essential oils but have been finding them so helpful for both me and my kids. I bought a diffuser and keep it going all day in our living room and all night in my kid’s room. I’m becoming so addicted to it I plan to buy another one for my bedroom at night. To keep things simple I bought a starter kit and choose the synergy blends that best suit the needs for me or the kids at any particular time, often a lavender base at night and a mint or lemon base during the day. Here are are the products we’ve been loving:
Plant Therapy Essential Oil Diffuser: I love this diffuser. I had purchased a cheaper one previously and it broke after only a few uses. I love all the mist options this one has for both continuous mists (that last for up to ten hours) and intermittent mists if you don’t want it to be as strong. It also has a pretty dimmable LED light.
14 Essential Oil Set (7 Synergies & 7 Singles): Since I’m new to essential oils, this starter set made things so easy. I don’t have to worry about what to blend, I just pick a synergy or a single oil, place a few drops in the diffuser and I’m done.
Kid Safe Starter Set: Again with keeping things simple, these pre-diluted roll ons for kids make things so easy. I don’t have to worry about which oils aren’t safe for my little ones or if I’ve diluted them enough. I just pick the ones I think they need at any given moment and roll it on their hands, feet, chest or stomach. They love using them and the oils have been so effective at calming them down, getting them ready for bed, and clearing up stuffy noses.
Honor Your Biological Clock. Make sure you get at least 7 – 9 hours of sleep. Staying up too late and not getting enough sleep causes irritability, stress, anxiety, brain fog, poor memory, unhealthy food cravings and even depression. Try going to sleep earlier and waking up with the sun the way your biological clock intended. If you feel connected to nature, this is particularly replenishing.
Your Mind & Spirit
Sit in Silence. We all know the benefits of meditation but it can be hard to make it a daily practice. I struggle with this myself. Schedule it into your routine (check out the link to free printable below) and use an app to help guide you if you need one. I’ve really been enjoying the Calm and Headspace apps lately.
Breathe Deeply. This is my go to method for easing stress and strong emotions. Simply breathing deeply into my diaphragm. I went through twenty years of my life not knowing how to breathe properly, thinking I had asthma or some other lung disorder, constantly allowing my anxiety to steal my breath. Now, when I need to calm myself down, I breathe deep into my diaphragm which maximizes the amount of oxygen that enters your bloodstream and interrupts your body’s fight or flight response.
Allow Yourself to Feel. Allow yourself to fully experience whatever it is you’re feeling. Don’t try to swallow or bury your emotions, sit with them, learn from them, figure out what they’re calling for you to do to find healing. Journal if you need to. Talk things out with a loved one. And then make an empowered plan of action to rise up from whatever’s knocking you down.
Practice Self-Compassion. No matter what you’re going through in life, constantly show yourself compassion. You can’t please everyone, you can’t be perfect, you will mess up, and that is life. Instead of always condemning yourself, be gentle with yourself. Instead of beating yourself up, find the part within you that needs healing and nurture it.
Indulge. Do whatever it is that makes you feel decadent. Something you too frequently deny yourself. For me, I love walking or jogging in nature. And I love when I somehow wake up before the kids and get to read in bed, that quiet time to myself feels so indulgent. So does wearing my favorite perfume, even if I have no plans to leave the house that day. And of course there’s always a good old mani/pedi. Whatever it is for you, schedule the time to do it.
Your Family & Home
Purge. Decluttering has become one of my most essential self-care practices lately. The more I declutter my home, the lighter and happier it seems to be. I can’t tackle too much at one time so I’ve been breaking it up into small projects. One small closet, drawer or space week by week. When things are too cluttered, I can’t focus and neither can my kids. By prioritizing this I’m taking better care of myself and them.
Create Reliable Routines. Whether or not you have kids, creating reliable routines that you stick to daily adds a sense of peace, structure and ease to your home life. You know what to expect, you have less decisions to make, and so you feel less overwhelmed. Map out your morning, afternoon and evening routines, put them somewhere you can see them, and try to stick to them. If you fall off course (like when I start cooking way too late to get the kids to bed on time!), you can easily refer back to the guidelines you’ve created and start again the next day.
Create Lists. My husband and I used to bicker constantly over house chores. We each had expectations that weren’t being met ~ whose turn it was to clean the bathroom, to do the dishes, to drive the kids to school, etc. So we began to chart our chores and responsibilities so we know exactly who was doing what each day. As much as I initially resisted so much planning, I’m more of a go with the flow kind of girl, streamlining everything has made our days feel easier and drastically reduced how much we bicker over chores, which is always a good thing 😉
There are so many ways to take better care of ourselves. We just need to commit to it and make self-care a daily and weekly ritual. Doing so will give you a powerful boost of self-worth and lots of strength for navigating this often hard and confusing world.
And if you need a reminder, ask yourself these questions:
- How do I feel when I neglect my self-care? How does my attitude and energy suffer?
- Why do I deserve to make self-care a priority? What feelings of guilt do I have that I can let go of?
- What causes me stress & anxiety? How can I limit these things?
- What are the things that soothe & recharge me? How can I incorporate them into my daily and weekly routines?
To help you make self-care more of a priority, click here to download a free weekly self-care scheduler and a 30-day self-care habit tracker.
What are your favorite self-care practices? If you need more inspiration, here are 35 ideas for practicing self-care:
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