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This year’s Mothers’ Day is fast approaching (how is it mid-May already?) so I wanted to touch on a topic that is near and dear to my heart: self-care. The word gets thrown around a whole lot, and often it conjures up images of massages and mani/pedis. Those types of self-care are fabulous, and I highly recommend them, but not so often do we think more deeply about what self-care can mean. Wait, what does it mean, really?
Self-care: /,selfˈker/ noun – the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health, well-being, and happiness
Let’s break that down a bit:
- “taking action” means that self-care is not passive. No wonder it can be so hard for a lot of us to engage in the practice. We have to intentionally and mindfully choose to do things that help to counterbalance the weight of all the obstacles, stresses, and struggles that we live with on a daily basis. Who has time for that on top of an already really long to-do list of chores and duties? That’s how it can feel at times, can’t it?
- “to preserve or improve” means drop the #momguilt if you aren’t where you envision yourself! You can start yesterday, today, tomorrow; you can pick up where you left off. It doesn’t matter what your specific starting point is — It just matters that you start!
- “health, well-being, and happiness” means self-care is not just about your appearance. Self-care is about your whole self, inside and out. What would make you feel more satisfied with who you are and the life you are living? Getting those moles looked at? Taking a daily walk to breathe in the fresh air? Shutting down your phone and social media at a certain time each day? You know yourself and what you need better than anybody else, which is convenient because you are just the person who can make changes, big or small.
Here’s a little bit of my story about integrating self-care back into my life:
Three years ago when I had my first child, I was caught up in the downward spiral of postpartum depression and anxiety. I did not know how to fit in self-care because I felt my every waking hour (and, really, every sleeping hour) was consumed by caring for my baby. I knew I needed to take action, and after thinking long and hard, and talking with my husband and my mom, I decided what I needed to do.
Through self-reflection I acknowledged that some of my struggles were related to being overwhelmed by my new identity, not getting time to myself, and not exercising (I have always been athletic, so feeling too tired from the sleep deprivation to workout was getting me even more down).
Enter: my self-care path. When my daughter was about four months old, my husband and I joined our neighborhood YMCA so that I could put our daughter in the safe care of Child Watch while I got time to myself to workout. It was one of the best things I have done for myself as a mom.
I got to feel like a person outside of my Mom title, I got to workout which flooded me with all the feel-good hormones, I released stress, I socialized with other moms doing the same thing, I even watched TV shows while I worked out (I say “shows” but it was really my one favorite home reconstruction show based in Texas — you probably know it and love it too!). Joining the YMCA ended up doing a whole lot more for my self-care than I’d initially thought, and I have no doubt it could do the same for you. If you know me personally, I’ve probably already talked your ear off about it!
So, I am going to make a plea to you, mama. We may be five months into 2019, and we may have long forgotten this year’s resolutions, but on this, our cherished Mothering Sunday, I urge you to start fresh. Choose to do some self-reflection and let that lead the way to a decision about self-care. Recognize that self-care should not be at the bottom of your checklist or at the back of your mind. Make a move towards your health and wellness. You deserve it!
My path involved the YMCA, and yours may too, but it also may be the smaller self-care acts, like wearing your favorite socks, cooking your favorite meal, starting a conversation (phone call, text, whatever) with a few of your best friends, drinking that extra cup of coffee, choosing to not do all the things, saying no to something, saying yes to something.
You are important, and you are worthwhile. It’s time to start believing that, and treating yourself like you do.
Christina is the writer behind the blog Real Life Mama. She is a mom two littles, a 4-year-old daughter and a 3-year-old son. Christina and her family live in San Diego, where she is a full-time mama, part-time mental health therapist (LPCC), and round-the-clock blogger, writer, and author. If she ever gets a moment to herself, she can be found singing at the top of her lungs, cooking, and crafting. Thanks for reading!