By Guest Blogger Joyce Harrell
Self-care is one of those; “I should but, I could but, I would but” areas often neglected by us busy women, moms, wives, sisters, friends, nanas, caregivers, business owners, and employees. I constantly see this issue addressed, not only because it’s my area of work, but it is also frequently a topic of discussion in many women’s magazines. So why is this area of concern so overlooked and underutilized? “I don’t have time” is the answer I hear most often.
I remember the word “privacy” as something I enjoyed pre-children. But going to the bathroom without having little ones bang on the door, or actually be in the room with you as you’re sitting on your throne doesn’t go away until they are old enough to understand “they” don’t want someone in the bathroom with “them” either. I remember all too well that stage of having of my little ones banging on the door, and it’s now replaced by my grandchildren banging on the door, or wanting to get in the tub with me. One thing about it, the difference between the children and grandchildren, they go home with their parents. 🙂
For me today, my lack of self care excuses range from blaming work, my husband, my children, writing deadlines, coaching appointments, to cleaning my house, and these are just a few of the gazillion reasons I can think of just off the top of my head. I think we as women are programmed to be rescuers. We rescue anything and everyone except ourselves.
What emotional reasons do we have to neglect self care? We feel guilt, we are too tired, or we may feel as if we don’t deserve special attention. We may feel we cannot carve out the time, or the money for extras may not be there.
I remember a time a few years back when I had just “had it!” You know those days when you just think you are going to explode if you have to stay in the house one more minute with the kids, the noise, and the four walls? This was one of those weeks when we were very short on money. I managed to go through all the penny jars, under the cushions, and all the shirt pockets, and find a few dollars. As soon as Mike came through the door, he could see the wild-eyed, “If I don’t get out of this house I am going to have a nervous breakdown” look and of course then came the tears. With my $4.00 and purse in hand, I headed to the mall. Once there, I bought a coke (I know, I teach healthier alternatives today) and started walking around the mall. In the drug store there was a little booklet by Dr. James Dobson, A Prescription for Tired Housewives. I believe it was $1.95. I purchased it and went out to the mall to sit down and read. The tears flowed, and the stress melted away. I was only gone for one hour, but it was a real “aha” moment for me. If I didn’t learn to seize opportunities for self-care, this was going to repeat over and over.
One reason I no longer feel taking care of myself is a luxury, is because I understand the law of needing oxygen. When you take a plane trip, the airline attendant tells you if you have a child with you, give the oxygen to yourself FIRST. If you give it to the child first, you will pass out and then be UNABLE to help the child. It is the same principle. If you neglect yourself, you will eventually burn out and not be able to give your family what is needs. Another example is a pitcher of water. If you aren’t continually filling the pitcher, you will run out as your pour to all who need a full cup.
Is my own personal self-care down to an art and science? No way! I take it one day at a time. I sometimes still get the signs of self-neglect that creep up on me like a little surprise. Balancing womanhood, motherhood, a career and a relationship is no easy feat for anyone.
Let me share 5 steps to get you on the road to great self care:
1) Be aware of your breathing. Take time to be aware of the moment, and start with slow deep breaths. This is a good habit to have when an overwhelming stressful event takes over. Stop, breathe in for a count or 8, breathe out for a count of 8. Try it 8 times. You will feel a restoration of calm. It takes practice.
2) Decide what goal you want to make toward self-care and write down a few steps toward that goal. Choose 3 – it could be, to get a massage or go out with your girlfriends once every few months, or read more books. Everyone’s idea of self care is different. Write down very small steps to start. Make the steps so small they are laughable (laughable steps bypass your resistance).
3) Be aware of your nutrition. Giving your body what it needs on a cellular level by increasing water intake, adding more fruits/veggies, less processed foods, and making sure you have a small meal/snack every 3 hours will ensure your body has the energy needed to withstand what comes your way.
4) Move a little more. This can be challenging with little ones and if you’re juggling a career on top of that. If getting to the gym or walking 3 miles a day is difficult, put on some great music and just move! Get the kids involved too. (Another great side effect of this is your kids will get their movement in, and maybe get tired and take a nap so you can do #5).
5) Seize the moments. When your work day is over, or kids are taking a nap, don’t feel you have to go straight to the dishes, or pay bills, or do laundry. Heat up a quick glass of hot chamomile tea, put on some relaxing music. Again, enjoy the quiet and even if it is for only 5 minutes, go to that relaxing place in your mind.
Taking that first step toward your wellness is the hardest. Give yourself permission to fill your cup.
Tell us ladies, are YOU guilty of neglecting self care? What do you do to help restore balance in your life? Share with our community.
Joyce Harrell is wife to Mike, mom to Brandon, Kelly, and Jenniss. She is nana to Caleb, Kayla and Judah. Joyce has been a Registerd Nurse for over 20 year, specializing in Oncology. She is a wellness coach with training from Wellcoaches and Wellness Inventory Assessment programs. Joyce is also the owner of Power Up Health Coaching and coaches moms, nurses, caregivers, and cancer patients to find balance in the midst of unbalanced lives. In addition to coaching and writing for her own wellness website, Joyce is a contributing writer for several health, wellness, and caregiver related websites. Her website is www.poweruphealthcoaching.com.