Is self care legitimate? How can I justify it? How do I do it?
You may wonder - is it really right for me to prioritize taking care of myself? Being a loving kind person means prioritizing everyone except me, right?
The truth is, you deserve and need to take time for yourself. You deserve to enjoy the journey here on planet earth! Self care can be very challenging for busy women who are working, taking care of others, taking care of a home, and perhaps of aging parents as well. It’s easy to forget in the mix of it all that - you matter!
I was 7 years old when my family was preparing to move our family from the small town in Ohio to Chicago where my Dad had taken a new job position. I’d been surrounded by a large extended family with many cousins in our country home in Ohio. It was all I knew and the upcoming change was intimidating. I felt anxious about it.
In the midst of the busyness of the grown ups in my world who were getting us read to move, my Aunt Ruth took the time our of her adult life to encourage and nurture me!
She gave me her daughter’s (my older cousin’s) doll. It was an awesome doll! The doll was almost as tall as me with long brown hair! Aunt Ruth stopped her own agenda to make me feel special. I stood on the chair as, together, we washed the doll’s hair in the kitchen sink. She told me tales of the new friends I would be meeting in Chicago and what fun we would all have playing with this doll. I don’t know if my cousin was so thrilled with losing her doll, but for me, it was a glorious moment!
I found myself feeling eager for the next adventure with my new doll and the friends I was going to have soon!
More than that, what Aunt Ruth did was show me that I mattered.
It’s a message every child, and every adult needs! You matter! Women can be experts at showing compassion and care to others….but too easily forget about themselves.
What do we do when we don’t have others showing us such tender displays of love and validation as my dear aunt did? As adults, it becomes our job to show ourselves kindness and nurture. And, ironically, as we take better care of ourselves, we have more to give of ourselves to others. We actually love others better as we love ourselves better!
This means we have to make time not only for work and responsibility, but also time for leisure. Let the adult part of you make decisions for that little girl who still resides in there. What would she enjoy?
Before we can fully enjoy the play and leisure part of life we must first, start with the foundations that hugely impact how we all feel - the physical aspects of our life - sleep and food! Just as a good parent oversees their child’s need for sleep and nutrition, we must do that for ourselves.
So first priority, do what you can to get adequate sleep. Set a bedtime and abide by it. Nothing in life feels good in a sleep deprived state!
Second, make nutritional food choices. It’s our bodies fuel and good nutrition really will set you up to feel your best!
Third, tend to your spiritual growth. We are spiritual beings as well as physical beings. We feel best when we don’t ignore this aspect of ourselves!
Fourth, tend to your needs for leisure, relaxation and play! Often, this is the one that we let slip as we prioritize the other demands on our time. But, we all need to do those things that feed and refresh our soul.
For you that might be writing, or hiking, or a Saturday morning time with the newspaper and a cup of coffee. Whatever it is that gives you refreshment and renewal - don’t neglect it! What makes you feel relaxed? If we don’t take the time to do these enjoyable moments we eventually run out of steam to tend to the other responsibilities that we have. And, like a balloon losing it’s air, our joy and energy slip away.
Life is a gift to be savored. We need to prioritize those things that help us to enjoy our days. Treat yourself to amazing self care! Slow down and listen that which your body and soul are craving. Like my aunts gift to me of special time and a doll, think about what you can gift yourself with today!
Carving out the time to take great care of ourselves and making it a priority is rarely easy. Still, it is worth persevering - because you DO matter! May you be as kind in nurturing yourself as my Aunt Ruth was in nurturing me! Blessings to you as you love yourself well!