Why is self care important? It’s easy to brush this whole idea off as a trend, but today I want to help you rethink self care and see how it can benefit you.
“Self Care” is a pretty trendy phrase these days. It’s an especially popular concept on social media channels. Influencers take gorgeous pictures of themselves with face masks (how??), getting pedicures, or shopping, and hashtag it #selfcare. In turn, they convince you to buy that thing they “swear by” all in the name of self care.
It’s easy to see how it’s gotten such a bad rap over the years. After all, a quick look at the hashtag on Instagram will have you feeling like it’s all about pampering and spending money while someone else watches your kids.
But, what if we rethink self care? What is self care, anyway?
For me, it’s not all pampering and dropping the big bucks. In fact, for me, it’s not even optional. It’s one-hundred percent vital to my mental and physical health, and it’s something I think we should all be prioritizing just a little bit more.
What Happens When You Put Yourself Last
As a mom, there’s so much on our to-do lists on a daily basis. I don’t know about you, but for a long time, the first thing I’d mark off of that list was taking care of myself. It was just way too easy to stay up late and finish a project, skip a meal, or put off that workout because there wasn’t “time.”
And that happened a lot. Right around the time my oldest was turning one, I started an Etsy shop, and let’s just say I poured my heart and soul into it. I stayed up way too late working, gave myself very little down time, and skipped meals in lieu of easy-to-grab junk food. Workouts? That word wasn’t even in my vocabulary. There simply wasn’t any time between working on my shop, taking care of my toddler, and keeping up with the house.
Over the years, it got worse and worse. We live in a society that glorifies busy, and I fit right in.
My life was a haze of brain fog, weight gain, and fatigue that everyone I knew insisted was “normal” for motherhood. My acne was worse than it had been when I was a teen, and I got common illnesses way too often. But, I refused to believe it had anything to do with my lifestyle for years.
My biggest wake-up call was the weight that simply wouldn’t budge. It didn’t matter if I restricted calories or followed the latest fad, because basically, my body was in survival mode. I wasn’t getting proper nutrition or sleep. My days were spent sitting inside building my business, and I was constantly stressed out and at the end of my rope. My body was telling me it couldn’t take any more mistreatment.
Slowly, I started making changes. First I started eating better. Then I added in some workouts. I allowed myself time to rest properly, and set an alarm to remind me to drink more water. The more I did, the better I started feeling. It was hard to fit it all in, with a toddler and a business, but I’d finally realized that if I didn’t take care of myself, no one was going to do it for me.
What self care is not
Most people have the wrong idea about self care, and that’s where all the negativity comes from. Self care is not about being selfish or self indulgent. It’s not an excuse to get out of work or be lazy or avoid the hard things in life. And, it’s not about overspending on frivolous things to make yourself feel better. In fact, things like overspending and avoiding work are actually the opposite of self care, because they stress you out and cause negative emotions.
What self care looks is
True self care only comes down to one thing. It’s the act of saying “I’m going to intentionally take care of myself so I have the energy and the desire to do the things I want to do, and the be best mom/wife/friend I can be.”
That’s it. That’s the whole thing.
Our lifestyle is all about overwork. No matter where we turn, there’s a message to always be hustling, work hard, don’t stop, keep going.
That doesn’t leave a lot of room in the schedule to actually take care of yourself. And so, instead, we have to be intentional about making time for that so we don’t get run down, burnt out, and stressed.
That’s self care. And, while that will look a little different for everyone, it’s time to rethink self-care, and focus on the things that really matter in helping us be our best.
What self care looks like for me
I can’t tell you exactly what you should be doing to take care of yourself. Part of the beauty of being an adult is that no-one can tell us what to do. We get to decide what’s best for us, and then make a point to do it.
But, what I can do is show you what self care looks like for me, and how I make it a regular part of my routine.
The first- and most important – way I bring self care into my own life is by simplifying any way I can. I think about the areas of my life that are regular stressors.
Things like cooking dinner, keeping the house clean, running errands, managing finances, etc. You get the drift.
For me, simplifying in these areas looks like meal planning with simple recipes, delegating chores to the kids, and developing a strict routine for managing my budget every month. It includes things like minimizing toys that aren’t played with, clothes that aren’t worn, and clutter around the house. It means I spend a little bit of time every day cleaning and organizing, so things never feel overwhelming.
This, to me, is the most important step in taking care of ourselves. It doesn’t matter how many mani/pedis we get, how often we wash our face, or exercise. If it feels like everything is closing in around us, we’ll never feel relaxed.
Next, I try to prioritize my daily tasks. When there’s too much on our plate, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Instead of always trying to get everything done, prioritize your to-do lists and schedules. Figure out what’s most important, what can wait, and what you can just scratch off without any consequences. This will not only help free up some time and reduce your guilt over not getting everything done, but it’ll also help you simplify!
The thing is, there’s simply not enough time in the day to do everything we want to do, or feel we should do. A few years ago, someone suggested I practice saying “no” more than saying “yes.” It sounded crazy at first, but it has seriously changed how I approach things! Now, instead of saying “yes” to everything and ending up strapped for time, I only say “yes” to the things I really, really want to do, which keeps me from running ragged, overworking, or skipping my me time.
We spend so much of our lives inside. Between school, work, cooking, cleaning, bathing kids, and driving in the car, we are always inside. Humans weren’t meant to live that way, and the lack of vitamin D and fresh air can seriously mess with our moods (and health). Make it a point to get outside. Go for a walk. Sit on your patio. Take a bike ride. Head to a local park. Whatever you have to do. Just find a way to get outside and enjoy nature as often as possible. Especially when your mood is feeling off.
Go to bed early
If you’re anything like me, you stay up way too late just trying to get some alone time. Every night I promise myself I’m just going to watch one TV show to unwind then head to bed. And, every night, I find myself clicking the “keep watching” button on Netflix.
We need rest. In fact, I’d say that’s one of the most important forms of self care there is. And most moms I know put rest at the very bottom of that list of priorities.
Making time to go to bed earlier can help you recharge, feel refreshed, and boost your immune system. Plus, you’ll save time trying to hide those bags under your eyes.
Cook nutritious meals
Want to feel and look your best, boost your energy, and be able to manage everything life throws at you daily? The posts and ads on social media would have us believe we need to buy expensive programs and products to accomplish this, but the truth is, it all starts in the kitchen.
Taking the time to cook nutritious meals is a big part of self care. It’s the root of so much we’re trying to accomplish, and it’s unfortunately, another task we tend to put on the back burner.
It can be hard to find the time and energy to cook every evening, but I shared some of my own tips in this post.
Add a little pampering
And, finally, to the fun stuff. This is where things like manis, pedis, bubble baths, and face masks come in. It’s still a relevant part of self care, because it fills our cup, but it should absolutely be combined with the rest of the stuff on this list.
For me, this part of self care is a bubble bath, a face mask, a massage, and a good book under a fluffy blanket. While this is the part of self care that usually seems expensive and indulgent, there are certainly ways to pamper without dropping lots of money. Need some ideas? Here are some of my favorite no-cost self are ideas that will leave anyone feeling recharged and refreshed.
Take Care of Yourself
The idea of self care can feel pretty petty and selfish. I know. As a mom and woman, it feels it feels wrong to put yourself first when so many people need you. I really hope this post changed that. I hope we can begin to rethink self care and use these as a stepping off point to be more intentional with giving ourselves what we need.
Now, more than ever, we need to prioritize taking care of ourselves. Where can we simplify? How can we make some more time to cook nutritious foods, move our bodies, and get to bed at a halfway decent time?
Why is self care important? Well…because if we aren’t willing to take care of ourselves, who can we expect to do it for us? Let’s make this a priority moving forward.