Self-care has become a buzzword for women. Women spend so much time taking care of others, that we tend to get run-down a bit and not take the time to care for ourselves. As we know, but don’t always put into practice, when momma has taken care of herself, she is much more equipped and happy to care for everyone else.
The recent self-care hype in our culture, however, is generally depicted by bubble baths, fancy chocolates, massages, a favorite bottle of wine, and the like. While it’s true that taking care of ourselves is really important, what has become the popular connotation of self-care seems to me more like self-indulgence.
I’m about to throw a perhaps unpopular opinion out there, but sometimes self-care is hard.
And not what we would really prefer to do.
Because oftentimes, taking care of ourselves means staying strong to a thousand different disciplines throughout the day, so we will be stronger in mind, body and spirit, a majority of the time.
And that’s the self-care no one talks about.
What Self-Care Might Look Like Instead
So…instead of treating yourself to that stash of chocolate at the end of a long day, self-care may be sticking to your gluten-free or Whole 30 regime, because that is what best fuels your body and keeps you feeling your finest in the long-term. Even if it does not taste near as good as chocolate in the moment, eating healthy keeps your body’s immune and digestive systems on top of their game and eliminates aches and pains that were present before. This helps you be your best self, which in turn, helps your family have their best mom and wife.
In lieu of purchasing that gorgeous, flowy dress you see online (because it’s been a long time since you bought something “just for you”), maybe self-care looks like re-wearing last year’s Easter dress to your cousin’s wedding so you can stick to your family’s budget this month (and the next) and pay off the credit card debt that is looming over your head. Because, while a new dress would be fun today, financial freedom in your family’s future opens up all kinds of possibilities.
Does a spa day sound like just the perfect antidote for your stressed-out self and the constant anxious thought loop that’s going on in your head right now? Maybe. OR maybe talking to a therapist will help you actually identify new ways to deal with stress, identify false thought patterns that have been affecting you, and will truly help you to be more emotionally healthy moving forward. While it’s not easy to start this process, it likely has more lasting impact on yourself and your relationships than a spa day.
While another Girl’s Night Out sounds fab, it may be time to evaluate how many of those you’ve been having lately. Between those nights out with friends and your other obligations, perhaps you’ve been gone a lot of evenings over the last six weeks. Tonight the right decision might be to stay home with your temper-tantrum throwing kids, wrangle them into bed, and then hang out with husband, watching TV on the couch. Not exactly a glamorous, fun-filled evening…but maybe you being gone so many evenings has something to do with the latest increase in your kids’ temper-tantrums and the distance you feel from your husband. You probably want intimacy with your children and husband more than you want to “feel free for just one night.”
So yeah…the occasional new pair of shoes, fun lipstick color, girls night out, or “treat yourself” moments are not bad. I’m not a total Grinch! (I PROMISE.) Those pleasures are delightful and you are definitely worthy of them.
I just think that self-care is continual, not occasional.
Never underestimate what the power of small, consistent habits can do for your well-being…and what your well-being does for you and those around you.
You’ve got this, mama.
(Now excuse me while I debate if I should I stay up to watch just one more episode of ‘Alias Grace’ on Netflix…or go to bed because I have to get up at 5:30 am tomorrow? Sigh. Self-Care is hard.)