In May of last year I had my hair, nails and feet all done at the same time. For the first time in 29 years. And I felt GUILTY about it. Guilty about being selfish, wasting money, feeling frivolous, feeling like I was the only mom at the homeschool group with her nails done.
But the truth is I needed the mental lift. After months of distressing GI symptoms which led to my ulcerative colitis diagnosis and subsequent messy ER visit, I needed to feel pretty again.
Months of focusing on crap and GI bleeding can do that to you!
Because I knew that things waere going to be crazy with end of the year & graduation activities, I had them done one more time, inwardly wincing at the expense. I’m glad I did it. I can’t justify the ongoing expense all the time, but I’ll definitely do it again when I can!
Sometimes as women we just need to do things like this for ourselves. It isn’t selfish to fill your own cup first.
I wrote previously about this at Why Self Care Is Not Selfish
6 Creative Ways to Practice Self Care
This is what practicing self care looks for me right now. Use it as a jumping off point for your own self care practice.
Daily Bible Reading – I’ve been a Christian since 1988 and still have not read the Bible all the way through. I’m using a plan from YouVersion and have committed to reading it through. I did stumble a bit during the past month (I was in Leviticus…) but picked it back up again. I’m going through some life transitions and uncertainties right now and need to keep my focus on God.
Daily Movement – I alternate between yoga and gentle cardio workouts. Because of my condition, I can’t do anything like bootcamp workouts, CrossFit or get to a gym. Much as I’d like a “ripped” look it isn’t realistic right now for where I am. And that’s going to have to be okay. Self care means if I need a day of restorative movement or even just stretches in bed, so be it.
Daily Creativity – Back in the olden days before motherhood, the Internet and All The Things, I loved to lose myself in art. I lost track of that part of myself and am trying to pick it up again, even if it’s just coloring at the end of the day. I think I’ve become so used to communicating electronically that I’ve lost sight of the sensory peace that comes with doing something tactile.
Daily Mindfulness – I really love the Calm app and use it every day. Sometimes for the 10 minute meditation and sometimes for body scans. If I have trouble sleeping, I listen to one of the sleep stories and have no trouble falling asleep again. Practicing the pause and keeping my head where my feet are is an essential way for me to stay focused and reduce stress.
Daily Nutrition – Following my diagnosis, I went on the SCD Diet, a grain free protocol for people with autoimmune, IBD and other disorders. I’m a NYC foodie at heart and this has been tough. I stayed on it for a month and then fell away for a few days, causing my symptoms to flare again. I’d really like to keep my colon if I can so I printed out some SCD meal plans that I had and started following them.
Daily Decluttering – All the stuff around me causes stress. We have two decades worth of stuff that we’re still weeding out. Going forward I want to live as minimally and simplistically as my crazy life will allow.
Other Self Care Strategies
Begin a gratitude practice. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Before you go to bed at night count down 10 things that you’re grateful for. It can be completely basic, like having a roof over your head and enough to eat. Practiced on a regular basis, this will help to transform your mindset.
Enjoy the little things. No matter where you are, be fully present. The magic is there, you just have to calm the mental noise down. Maybe it’s listening to your child laugh, hugging your dog, getting outside to watch the sun go down. Having a date night with your partner.
Take 5 minutes out. When life gets overwhelming, step away from it. Simply focus on your breath for a few minutes, then grab a big cup of ice water and see if you don’t feel better.
How Will You Practice Self Care?
I just gave you a few examples of how I’m going to fill my cup going forward. I’m a special needs mom with chronic illness, and a sober one at that. Self care is absolutely critical for me so that I don’t succumb to depression and anxiety.
Your idea of filling your cup may look completely than mine. So if you’re able to get to a spa or a massage, then go for it! Maybe for you, spiritual reading looks like 12 step literature, or following your favorite author on Facebook. Or maybe you can handle those hard workouts.
Do some quiet inventory and determine what you need to fill your cup. It doesn’t have to look like mine or anybody else’s. Find what works for you.
Just remember this…self care isn’t selfish. Take care of yourself. It’s okay and very necessary to fill your cup so you can be the person you want to be for your family, friends and community.