The Truth About Self-Care

“And this teeny slice of the pie is Mommy’s free time.”

It’s been quite some time since I posted. Valerie and I optimistically took on this self-care challenge at the beginning of this year, hoping to lead by example and help parents (especially moms) everywhere learn how to prioritize their own health and well-being. I was so excited. I’ve been burning myself out trying to juggle school, the (multiple) sites I write for, my full-time job, my part-time job, planning an overseas trip, my kitchen renovation, and of course, my toddler.

In one organization that I’m affiliated with, they say that when you make a new commitment to something, what will inevitably start to happen in your life is that you will see all the things that no longer fit with who you want to be. It’s not that things are so wrong, it’s just that you’re seeing them in the light of the new determination that you’ve made.

I thought that a self-care challenge would be all manis, massages and mimosas. I was so wrong. I feel, quite honestly, like I’m running alongside a car that’s going full speed and trying to put gas in it a teaspoon at a time. Even though I’m doing things for myself that I’ve never done before (monthly massages, finally taking my honeymoon, signing up for ClassPass) and guess what? I’m still exhausted. I’m still irritable. My house is still a mess. I leave my massages in pain. Yes, that’s how much tension has accumulated in my back. My knee has started aching again and the panic attacks have returned.

Should I just give up?

It would be easy to say that it isn’t worth it, that this was a nice thought but that it won’t make any difference. But this is the real magic of taking on a challenge like this with other people—we keep each other on track and celebrate the successes, large and small. A doctor wouldn’t tell you to abandon the treatment without checking in. They would adjust the dose.

So, no. Self-care is not all spa days and sleeping in. In the last couple of months, I’m learning that self-care is:

  • Speaking your truth
  • Asking for help
  • Checking in with yourself
  • Throwing out anything (old or new) that holds you down—this could be clothes, appliances, patterns, habits or relationships
  • Being honest
  • Going to therapy
  • Giving up things that you might enjoy because the cost in either time or money would just cause you more stress
  • Skipping the gym (or anything else) to rest
  • Skipping anything to go to the gym
  • Eating food that nourishes you
  • Admitting you don’t have it all under control
  • Accepting that sometimes done is better than perfect
  • Embracing messy feelings
  • Saying no

These are all things that I have been practicing over the last month. None of them have been easy, but they are creating a greater sense of well-being and self-efficacy than even the best massage has.

What are you learning about self-care? Where have you given up? Where can you become more yourself?

2 thoughts on “The Truth About Self-Care

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