How Does Self-Care Really Work?

Everywhere you look there is a reminder about why self-care is important and needed. As a mother… as a woman… there’s no way you could miss the reoccurring message. It pops up as if it is God sending you a message on how to ease some of your struggles. I follow several women and mom blogs, podcasts, and friends, and it’s beautiful to see everyone making self-care a priority. Everyone has their own idea of what self-care looks like because well… SELF-care! I have searched, researched, and tried many routines, and I’ve finally learned what works for me.

For years, I thought I was inconsistent and lazy when it came to my self-care. So I began to read more on how I could change that. Through my research, I never saw “Do Self-Care.” Most articles and professionals say “Practice Self-Care.” The dictionary defines practice in the verb form as “performing (an activity) or exercising (a skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency.” My issue is that I would focus more on doing self-care rather than practicing it. Doing it just because rather than practicing it to create a habit. I learned that participating in self-care consists of first choosing the types of self-care that you will practice (Whew! and that list goes on and on) and being consistent (the routine). When I pondered upon that, I realized that I’m not truly inconsistent, self-care is just seasonal for me.

I, like so many of you, have gone through many seasons in my life. Each time I need a different self-care routine to get me through. When I was breastfeeding my youngest daughter, self-care was me eating freely while binge-watching shows on Netflix. It then turned into adding some candles with peaceful tunes playing in the background while reading a book. Once my breastfeeding journey ended, I needed to be outdoors! I began to practice self-care by hanging out with my friends more and attending events that fed my soul. When I fell into a season of postpartum depression and needing my husband home from the road, self-care was quality time with him. When my hair was falling out from stress, my routine turned into taking care of the physical part of me by working out, taking care of my hair (includes frequent visits to the hair salon), and working on my skin.

Currently, I am in a season of healing mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Wholly and fully. I’ve had to choose my forms of self-care carefully and strategically. I need something that will tend to each area that I’m struggling in. I’ve had to remain open to them changing based on my need at any given time. I am leaning heavily onto journaling when I can’t voice how I’m feeling and my thoughts are running rampant. I sit outside on my balcony or in my car in total silence when I’m overwhelmed or I need peace (because…kids). I’ve gotten back into art (drawing, painting, crafting) in order to add to my therapeutic healing and release. I also FINALLY made the big step of reaching out to a therapist. In addition to those mentioned earlier, I’ve been trying to remain connected to God. I’ve been doing my best to pray and talk with Him, read devotionals, stay consistent with online church services and bible studies (due to social distancing), listen to uplifting music, download meditation apps, and more. On the physical end of things, it’s a work in progress. I’m getting back into working out, interested in yoga, and the urge to purchase a bike came out of nowhere today before I wrote this post.

I now see self-care as a way of healing. Healing your mind, body, and soul. Some choose the spa, vacation, massages, new hobbies, and more. It’s important to remember the root word “self” in self-care. You can be inspired by others and try their routines out for yourself, but it doesn’t mean it’ll work for you. Self-care is customizable. Maybe you can’t afford to go to a spa (especially now that Covid-19 has changed our way of living), but you can create a spa-like experience at home. The scope of self-care is endless. It can be as small as (which is actually huge) taking a social media break, going for a daily walk, watering your plants, taking a moment to sit in silence for 1-minute, and practicing breathing techniques.

If I’m being honest, self-care can be difficult and often feel like hard work. I tend to have to force myself to do things for myself, and it’s another task to do them consistently. However, considering my current needs, I can’t imagine not making a little time for myself. My children nor my husband would get the best version of me. Hence, my reason for seeking therapy. I’ve found myself irritable, sad, mad, shutdown, overwhelmed, not sleeping, hair falling out, and more when not caring for myself. This journey is still taking a lot of practice, effort, and intentionality, but I’m pushing daily to remember my importance and make myself a priority. I AM IMPORTANT. I AM NEEDED. I AM LOVED. I AM STRONG. I AM POWERFUL. I AM RESILIENT… I AM WORTHY! And so are YOU!  I’ve accepted that as I grow and as the seasons of my life change, so will my self-care routine. I talk a lot about not comparing myself or my journey to others, but I really failed myself in the past by comparing my self-care to others.

That stops now.

 

Encourage Yourself (Throwback Thursday)

       What I have observed in people today is lack of self encouragement. We look to others to make us feel good about ourselves and inspired when what we really need to do is look for inspiration in ourselves. Each and every person has a story. Somewhere in that story is where strength stems from and is why you can use your own life and your own story to encourage yourself to get out of the bed with joy and to go on with your day. If you’re already doubting yourself at the start of your day, or every day, it’s going to be extremely difficult for others to believe in you. If you can’t believe in yourself, what makes you think other people can believe in you. Believe in yourself first, and others will follow. ENCOURAGE YOURSELF. It is possible.
     From personal experience, it’s exhausting trying to encourage someone who depends on that encouragement every second of the day. YES it’s a good deed, but it’s also kind of selfish. We should be able to help ourselves at some point.
     Yes, the people who surround us in the media or in our everyday lives can and do inspire/encourage us, but what’s wrong with using YOUR experiences, YOUR success, YOUR beauty, and more to encourage yourself? Each of those people have experienced their own struggles and are “encouraged” to continue on with life because of their struggles. So encourage yourself with your OWN struggles to continue on with your life.
     Life always throws us bowling balls, unexpectedly and at full speed, but it builds character. Your personal character. Whether it is a struggle with illness, family, friends, relationships, work, school or yourself, it is very much possible to take a moment and encourage yourself. I guarantee you if the people surrounding you see your “self-encouragement,” it will encourage them. It will “encourage” them to encourage you more and to do the same for themselves.
     I believe it starts with taking that step with ourselves first. Encourage yourself first, and the results of spreading encouragement will take place like a domino effect. Person after person will begin to do the same…