It was a typical day in our house. We were somehow running late (as always) and rushing to get out the door to meet some friends to go apple picking. My son was bouncing off the walls to see his favorite friend. Literally. So as I was chasing him down the hallway trying to wrangle him up, I noticed the pitter patter of rain.
Just then, mom brain turned off and Jen brain kicked in. It wasn’t raining outside. It was actually quite nice; the perfect fall day. Uh oh. I was on the hunt! It didn’t take me long to find the source. Our downstairs hallway was leaking out all of the bathtub water that I had just drained. But that wasn’t even the worst part. I looked up and saw this:
I was mortified. Not because I thought the entire bathtub may fall through the ceiling, which I admit was a real possibility in my head. But because it had gotten to this point. Clearly, this damage did not happen overnight. Clearly, this was not the result of one leaky morning bath. How had I, the self-professed neat freak, cleanaholic, let this one slip? How had I never realized this giant eyesore in our hallway?
And then the bigger picture sunk in. We get so wrapped up in our daily lives, so wrapped up in our normal routines, so wrapped up in the craziness, that we start to miss things. Things start to slip. Tunnel vision sets in. It can be very easy to fall into auto pilot.
I had to ask myself, what else had I been missing? What else had I been neglecting in life?
I am a firm believer that there are two ways we let self-care (or home care in this case) slip. We Neglect, which is what happened with my ceiling and we Ignore.
Not paying enough attention to what is going on around you to notice a problem.
Being aware that a problem may exist, but ignoring it and hoping/wishing/thinking that it will go away on its own.
Not too long ago, we had a home issue that we ignored/put off longer than we should have.
A giant windstorm hit us on the tail end of winter; not uncommon for us this time of year. We live on a cul-de-sac that I affectionately refer to as “the vortex.” All of the snow, garbage and dead leaves of the entire neighborhood always work their way into our yard. This particular storm hit us harder than the rest.
We heard some banging noises outside, and since we don’t have any trees nearby, we could only speculate on the source. Much to our dismay, it was a rogue piece of vinyl siding that had worked its way halfway off and was hitting the side of the house. We decided just to let it be for the night; it was cold, windy and a little snowy, so no sense trying to mess with it in dangerous conditions.
The next morning, sure enough, it had worked its way off and blown into our front yard. No big deal, we thought. My husband would just nail it back up when the weather broke. Except it was a big deal. That night, and for many nights after, we were awakened by the familiar sounds of siding thumping against the house. Each morning, I would check the yard and collect whatever had fallen off that night. Each day, we would tell ourselves it wasn’t a big deal. We would just put it back up. Sometime.
Well, if any of you are familiar with construction, you may know siding comes apart like dominos. And it doesn’t stop until it’s either all gone or all put back together. One morning, I finally realized there was no more putting it off. No more ignoring the problem. Not only would it not fix itself, without intervening it was only going to get worse.
Needless to say, I broke down and called in professional reinforcements.
Sometimes in life, the problems aren’t so obvious. It can be so easy to get wrapped up in our daily responsibilities. Work, family, kids, and home care are all so important. But the most important of all is self-care. And it is also the most neglected. Many of us put ourselves last. We don’t want to feel selfish. We have other obligations that are ‘more important.’ We just don’t have time.
I am here to tell you to make time! And that it is ok! I’m sure you have heard the expression, ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup.’ This is so true. If you don’t take time to ‘fill your cup,’ then you will have nothing to give to others. You can only run on empty for so long before it catches up with you.
By taking time for self-care, you will also become more effective in all other aspects of life. I promise you that it will make you a better employee, spouse/significant other, friend, parent and all around person. Tell yourself that you will no longer neglect or ignore your self-care!
THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF CARE
The first part of self-care is getting your head on straight. If we don’t take care of our mind, everything else will eventually fall apart. It is the glue that holds life together. Find a way to clear your head. Give yourself a mental break. We ALL need and deserve it!
The easiest way to care for your mind is a mental break from what consumes the majority of your life. The mental break might be to physically remove yourself. Maybe you’re a new mom. Your mental break from the strain of a new baby and the hormones that come along with it may be to take some time to yourself. Take a walk. Go get a coffee and sit in silence. Take a stroll around Target. Clear your head. I guarantee you will come back feeling refreshed.
Maybe you can’t physically remove yourself from your surroundings. You can still find a reprieve wherever you are. Put on some headphones and listen to your favorite song. Take a bubble bath. Kick your feet up and veg out. Meditate. Maybe your mental break is just shutting your mind off for a bit and coming back fully recharged.
Another method is to take your mind somewhere else, even if you are still surrounded by the chaos that normally consumes it. Plan a vacation; make it a real or ‘dream’ vacation. Go house hunting for your fantasy house online. Make some plans for the summer. Jump on Pinterest and find some home decorating tips to try out. Whatever works for you, find something to take over your mind for a bit that gives you something to be excited about and look forward to!
Whichever method you choose to care for your mind, it must include taking your mind off of what normally consumes it. You will need to find what works for you. We cannot fully function to the best of our abilities without our mental health intact. This is important, so please make dedicated time for this each week or month, whenever you feel you need it. You cannot neglect or ignore your mental health, so if you schedule in regular mental health breaks for yourself you will keep your mind healthy.
Without our health, we have nothing. We only get one body, we have to treat it right! Unfortunately, it can be the easiest thing to neglect. Time gets away from us. Our days fill up; it’s easier to hit the fast food drive thru than the gym. I get it. Life is busy. And honestly, who really enjoys exercising and eating healthy??? Of course being lazy on the couch binge watching Netflix sounds more appealing than running a couple of miles. Of course ordering a pizza sounds easier and tastier than cooking some chicken breasts and veggies.
We can very easily fall into the ‘neglect’ and ‘ignore’ traps when it comes to our bodies. We may not pay enough attention to realize that we have become sluggish in our daily lives. Or we may ignore that our pants are starting to get a bit too tight. We may let that nagging injury go a little too long.
Taking care of our bodies is such an important part of self-care. If our bodies aren’t physically functioning the way that they are supposed to or reaching their maximum potential, we will struggle in all other aspects of our lives. A healthy body equals a healthy mind. And the benefits of taking care of our bodies are so rewarding!
There are a few aspects of taking care of our bodies that reach the top of my list:
Of course we all know that exercise is important. It helps you look great and feel great! I have to be honest, I usually don’t look forward to my daily workout but the adrenaline high I get after it’s done is second to none! Exercise will boost your energy, your confidence and help you achieve things that you never dreamed possible! The rewards that come along with regular exercise are just a bonus in addition to taking care of your body.
- SET A GOAL: Give yourself a goal for your exercise to make it even more rewarding. Maybe your goal is to complete a certain program. Maybe you want to reach a certain speed. Achieve a certain weight. Fit into your ‘goal’ jeans. Run a race. Whatever it is, setting a goal will give your exercise more purpose and make it easier to stick with! And the feeling you get when you achieve that goal is absolutely indescribable.
- MAKE IT A ROUTINE: Include exercise in your weekly schedule. Set it as an appointment. If you have a set workout routine it will become easier to follow over time. Also, try to find a workout buddy to hold you accountable.
- MAKE TIME: I cannot stress this enough. I know it goes along with making it a routine. But if you feel you do not have enough time in the day to incorporate it into your routine, then you need to rearrange your priorities. And it doesn’t have to take all day!If you are a gym person, great. Find a gym on your way to or from work so you are not wasting time travelling. You will also be more likely to actually go if you are passing it by every day. If you have kids, find a gym with childcare. If you are really pressed for time, workout at home. Beachbody has a great variety of programs to follow on DVD or On Demand and many of the programs are anywhere from 30-60 minutes a day. I’m sure even the busiest of us can manage that! If you aren’t ready to invest the money in a home based program, Pinterest has unlimited resources for free home workouts. Recently, I decided to purchase a treadmill for our house. I like to run races but since having my son, I find it hard to make time to get my training in. So I bought the treadmill and just get up a bit earlier to get my runs in. If you are a morning person, it is SO nice to get it done early!
Eating healthy doesn’t have to be difficult! Or expensive! Now that we are in the age of Pinterest, you can find any type of meal for any type of budget. Meal planning is all the rage these days, and it’s easy to see why. Just take a couple of hours out of your lazy Sundays, and you can prepare a week’s worth of meals that are ready to go! And by planning ahead of time, you will avoid falling into the trap of “let’s just pick something up quick.” There is nothing quicker than the meal you already prepped days ago. The most effort you may have to put in is popping it in the oven.
Typically, I just prep on a daily basis. I choose simple and healthy meals that I can prepare during nap time and then just cook in the oven when it’s time for dinner. And let’s not forget about the ever-reliable crock pot! Stay tuned for my recipes section that will include all of my favorite simple, go-to meals!
In general, when you eat good, you feel good. Now and long-term. And it’s so simple. Eating is already part of our daily routines, and it doesn’t take any extra effort to make it healthy!
Get at least 7-8 hours and your body will thank you! However you need to plan your days, make sleep a priority. You cannot function to your max potential without it!
Take Care of Any Lingering Issues
It can be so easy to ignore any minor issues you are having with your health. Tell yourself that they are no big deal. Until it becomes a big deal. I am notorious for this. I ALWAYS get the same issue with my back every few months. My hip slowly goes out of place. I feel it coming on. It’s a simple fix. I just need to stop in to the chiropractor and get readjusted. But I put it off. Every single time. Until the point that I can barely walk, or worse. And then I go. But health issues can escalate very quickly, so please don’t ignore them!
As I said, we only get one precious body, please treat it properly! Self care for your body is so important and easy to follow; you just need to make a conscious effort towards it!
So you have taken care of your mind and body; now it’s time to focus on your soul. You may be wondering how is this different from your mind? Your mind is what drives your thought processes on a day-to-day basis. You care for your mind by giving it rest. Your soul is what fuels you. Caring for your soul requires you to fill yourself. Find your soul food and give back to yourself.
Ask yourself, what fills you up and gives you life like no other? What lights up your days? What do you most look forward to? This, my friends is your soul food.
Some examples of great soul food include:
- Talking with a good friend
- Listening to a song with special meaning
It can be simple. It doesn’t have to take much time out of your day. One of my favorite ways to fill my soul is very simple. I love to just sit quietly and snuggle with my son. He rarely sits still for more than twelve seconds unless we are watching a movie (then I get about two minutes) so these moments are fleeting. But I cherish them with all my heart. I can literally feel it filling my soul. These moments rejuvenate me like none other.
Soul care is so important because it fuels the rest of your life. Your soul defines you and your daily actions. Take a few minutes each day to feed your soul and you will be rewarded!
I hope through reading this you have truly realized the value of self-care. In a busy world, it can be easy to forget about ourselves. By practicing self-care on a daily basis, our value to ourselves and others increases ten-fold. Tell yourself that you will no longer neglect or ignore your self-care; make it your number one priority and the results will flow into all other aspects of your life!
I would love to hear about any tips that you have found helpful or how you like to practice self-care!