I’ve seen a couple of blog posts recently trying to make a case that self care is selfish. (Not linking to them because as part of my own self care practice, I try to avoid online drama!) This got me to thinking because as a chronic illness blogger, I write about self care practices frequently. And I strongly believe that self care is not selfish…especially for moms living with chronic illness. Have a self care practice can greatly help with chronic pain management and potentially minimizing the need for unnecessary medications.
Take Care of Yourself First
If you’ve ever flown on an airplane, you’re probably familiar with the safety presentation before take off. Back in olden times this would consist of the flight attendants demonstrating the proper use of seat belts and reviewing important emergency information.
These days however, it’s usually presented as a video on your personal screen. At some point in the presentation, the use of air masks is demonstrated and it’s notable that mothers need to be reminded to put on their own masks before assisting their children.
The reason I mention this is that it’s a powerful reminder to us that we have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of everyone else and as moms, we’re very guilty of doing this far too often.
It’s all too easy to take care of everyone else around you and never get around to your own self care. Most of us were taught from an early age to put ourselves last when it comes to self care, and this is especially true for women.
Now, there’s always going to times others have to come first. For example, your newborn doesn’t have a choice and you’ll be sacrificing a lot of time, sleep, and energy in those first few weeks and months. But usually, that’s only for a temporary period.
Self Care for Caregivers
I know that some of you are caregivers to children or have other family members who are in need of assistance. Some of you may even have a chronic condition while being caregivers to others (like me…) and help is hard to come by.
Special needs moms, sober moms and moms with chronic illness often are living with PTSD while navigating their circumstances. It’s been said that women like us have psychological profiles similar to combat war veterans.
Self care in our situation is tough, but not impossible. You have to be intentional about it and at times, you’ll just have to grab that five minutes or more for self care on the fly when the opportunity presents itself.
Self Care Is Not Selfish
For many of us, taking care of everyone else before ourselves is something we do on autopilot. Learn to become more aware of it and stop putting yourself last all the time.
And when you’re dealing with a high intensity situations it’s certainly a tight rope walk at times. You really have to be intentional in your situation to be able to make a conscious choice about how you’re going to spend your time.
And you know what…it’s perfectly okay and necessary to put yourself first at times. The consequences of putting yourself on the back burner for months or years are very costly. After awhile, there’s really nothing left to give and your health will suffer.
It may feel good to put ourselves last, but when we routinely do it, we’re doing more harm than good to those around us. It causes us to be stressed and exhausted and that’s not pleasant for those who have to live with us! So, self care isn’t selfish!
Self Care is Having New Experiences
When you go outside what’s familiar and look for new experiences, you open yourself up to new adventures. You’ll discover new ways to do things. You’ll also find solutions that you wouldn’t have come up with any other way. As a result, you learn more about yourself and the world around you.
To begin, it’s easy to bring new experiences into your life just by looking for opportunities outside of your usual comfort zone. Try a new restaurant. Drive a different route to work. Volunteer for an organization that you wouldn’t typically support. Take a weekend road trip to someplace new and see where you end up.
Remember that your environment shapes your self-confidence, so don’t be afraid to look around at your life and make some changes. Surround yourself with people and experiences that build up your self worth and make you happy. Distance yourself from toxic friends and family members if you can.
Self Care Is Living Mindfully
Mindful living is one of the best ways to practice self care. Often, anxious thoughts are the result of worrying about the future while sad thoughts are related to regretting the past. Mindful living helps with this mindset because it forces you to stay in the present.
Unless there’s something you can do to change your past, you’ll have to accept what’s happened in your life. Allow yourself to feel your feelings and grieve, and then move on in your own time. But if you find that you’re frequently haunted by your past or always worrying about tomorrow, it might be a good idea to speak to a trained counselor who can help you move on.
How to Practice Self Care
Starting today, make an effort to carve out some time for yourself. Do one thing for yourself, even if it’s just enjoying a quiet cup of coffee alone, or catching an extra 20 minutes of precious sleep. Investing time for self care matters. Do this more often and see for yourself how powerful the impact can be!
Practical Self Care Ideas
- Go outside for a walk.
- Do some YouTube Yoga.
- Take a hot shower and indulge in some at home spa goodies.
- Visit your favorite coffee shop.
- Curl up in bed and take a solid nap.
- Meditate for 10 minutes. (Yoga nidra is especially soothing!)
- Find a coloring book that you love and can grab in a minute.
- Stay off social media.
- Listen to calming music.
- Journal your thoughts.
- Put on yoga pants and fuzzy socks.
- Healthy food choices…do try to avoid alcohol.
- Read some scripture.
- Listen to an uplifting podcast.
Gentle reminder – if you’re a woman with chronic illness, please check with your doctor before beginning a new exercise program!
What’s your favorite way to practice self care? Leave a message in the comments below?
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