Happy mothers week! Today, I’m writing to most of the women out there that forget to take care about the most important person in the world-themselves. This applies to men too but I’m taking a “woman” approach to this in celebrating the moms in my life and yours. Nonetheless, the principles apply to everyone.
In the modern era, where women have taken on the role of “wonder woman” tackling a career, house choirs, raising children (and sometimes a husband too!), we end up neglecting ourselves.
Long gone are the days when we could have a simple cup of tea at a friend’s house, or read a book on the patio, or even bake cookies. Well you may still bake cookies, but usually after the sun has gone down!! Society as well as our own gender prejudice has somehow made us believe that unless everyone else is taken care of, we are not a priority.
This week, let’s take care of you! Let’s make time for me!
For years I’ve pondered this question, what is self-care? The most inclusive simple definition I got was, self-care is a deliberate attempt at taking care of our emotional, mental and physical being. It is how we refuel ourselves. It is NOT the same as being selfish which unfortunately more people associate self-care with including myself. And what I mean by this is, we think when we care about ourselves, we are being selfish. Not true! We should not feel guilty because we need a walk. Self care is associated with reduced stress, anxiety and improved relationships with others and yourself including improved self-confidence and self-esteem. It helps you be your better self.
The other question one has to ask themselves is what does self-care look for themselves? I searched wide and far to really find out what delights me and also what gives me peace of mind, peace of heart, peace of soul and greater physical strength. Sometimes this may even mean being with someone that makes us laugh, gives us strength and happiness and we need to cherish that person as a part of our self care journey. Like our best friend. Other things may include hobbies, activities that we would like to do. It may mean doing make-up, getting our hair made or learning how to ski. Lots of websites out there speak of basic “do’s and don’ts”. I think everyone is different in finding what works for them. Eating healthy, getting sleep, taking a shower (new moms would relate!) and all those basic human necessities are a given and if you are not doing that-that needs to become a priority. However, many of us get burnt out and wonder, why is my inner light so dim. Here are some suggestions that may help you take care of yourself:
- Make a list for yourself (mental or on paper) of things that you like to do to make yourself happy. Try to write at least 10 things and think about things that you could do on a daily basis, weekly and monthly. Some things may be easy and some may require more time and planning. Highlight things that may need to be scheduled in. For example:
- Praying daily for spiritual peace.
- Reading for 1 hour in the sun every week.
- Scheduling a 60 mins massage once a month.
- Now make a “me time” schedule to ensure that your daily, weekly and monthly self care goals are being met. For myself, especially during stressful work weeks, I schedule a dinner date with my girlfriend. That way I get fueled in the middle of a stressful week. You may just have to denote a self-care day, like Fridays!
- Do share with your family, kids, husband , parents etc (whoever you live with) that this time is important for you and why. If you’re a mom, you will realise soon that you will feel guilty leaving your kids after work to have dinner with your girlfriend. However, I’ve overcome this by sharing with my kids that when I am happy, I am a better mom and am able to provide them more TLC and be more attentive. This way I am also teaching my children that being happy is essential to a healthy life. Kids love play dates. Remind them that moms need them too!
- Some of you may struggle with ideas of what self care looks for you. These are some ideas:
- Taking a long quiet bubble bath.
- Taking a long walk at the beach. Zone out. Take in nature.
- Grab coffee and read.
- Write. You can write a story, poem, blog or journal.
- Meet a friend.
- Eat your favorite food.
- Shop! Retail therapy can be very relaxing!
- Talk to a friend.
- Paint. Draw. Be the artistic you.
- Bake. Let your creative self out.
- Exercise. Run. Yoga.
- Nap. Sleep early. Sleep in. If you are feeling fatigued some extra Zzz could help!
- Sing. Dance.
- Watch your favorite movie, show.
- Listen to a podcast, music while you walk.
- Hike, kayak.
- Learn a new hobby. Take lessons.
- Book a massage.
- Get your nails done.
- Get your hair done.
- Don’t make self care a struggle and stressful in itself. If you are just starting out with this idea, start slow. Maybe even monthly or weekly until you can easily adapt some time on a daily basis. Also we all need self-care in different intensities so for some, once a month maybe enough for you. You’re just amazing like a hybrid and need less refueling! Also, if you are trying something new and it’s not exactly fun and is stressful, try another activity!
As a dietitian, the reason I spoke about self-care today is that much of our neglect starts to take an impact on our physical health. In my experience with clients who struggle with weight loss, stress eating, lack of motivation and associating guilt with self-care are recurring themes that prevent them from reaching their health goals. We usually try to fill our “bucket” in unhealthy ways because we aren’t taught how to fill our own “bucket”. We become too immersed in filling everyone else’s bucket! So fill your bucket and be happy and healthy.