I definitely have learned a difficult lesson about self care in the last year. I've learned how truly important it is. I've heard the analogy that it's like putting on the oxygen mask on yourself first so that you are able to help those around you but I'm Super Mom, I'll help everyone first then take care of myself. But guess what? That time never seemed to come.
When I was a stay home mom, I told myself that because I didn't bring in an income, that spending money and time on myself was frivolous and unnecessary, what did I need "me" time for? I was at home all day. Plus, do you know how much time it takes to take care of the needs of 8 children and a spouse?
When I started working full time, I decided that anything I wanted to do for myself meant more time away from my house and my children and my responsibilities there. I simply didn't have time for it. I gave up my acrylic nails and my bi-monthly housecleaning because they were frivolous, unnecessary and time consuming.
When I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression several months ago, I was determined to do what I should have been doing all along - self care. That isn't to mean that I didn't go out to lunch with my friends once in a while or I didn't have a date night with my husband regularly, but it always seemed like I was in a hurry to get to the next "thing" that needed done. None of my self care was purposeful and that's the point I want to make.
Self care looks different to everyone. My sister gets a massage and eats out every week or every other week then goes home and watches television. Some get their hair done, utilize retail therapy or go to the gym. None of those things are affordable for me at this point even though once or twice a year I like to splurge on a massage from Reflexology by Fry's (ask for Tyrell).
The last year has taught me that I need daily self care, especially little things. I need quiet time to read before every night, I need to exercise daily and I need to have a 44oz. Diet Pepsi with my breakfast. I also need to fuel myself with healthy food and water. When I watch television, I need to do something with my hands, like embroidery or a block game on my phone. During the summer, I need to be on the river as much as possible. This combination works for me.
It's been a roller coaster trying to figure out what my own needs are because I have spent the last almost three decades taking care of everyone else's needs before my own. I've finally learned to put on my own oxygen mask and I'm better for it.
I've created a short list of things you can do for self care that you may or may not have thought about:
Don't get on social media or email first thing upon waking. Wait a good hour or so.
Spend 5 minutes just laying down and focus on breathing, in your nose and out your mouth.
Read from an actual book or a magazine instead of an online article.
Splurge on a favorite, guilt free treat once a week.
Give yourself permission to binge watch a favorite show but turn your phone off while doing so.
Sit outside and take your shoes off and rub your toes in the grass or the dirt. (Google "grounding")
Buy yourself a bouquet of flowers.
Have a dance party, alone or with others.
Sing along to the radio while driving in your car. "Don't worry that it's not good enough for anyone else to hear. Just sing." -The Carpenters
You probably know what you need. You need to give yourself permission to do it. Maybe it is 10 minutes every day. Maybe it's an hour or two once a week. You need to tell yourself that you are putting the oxygen mask on so you can take care of everyone else.