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Taking care of our bodies, naturally, is about more than just making the switch to natural products. I learned this lesson the hard way after giving birth to my second child and starting Live Simply, the blog. I was a tired, stressed-out mom who was trying to keep up with a growing blog and be “all things to all people.” With a full schedule, the easiest thing, or person, to neglect was myself.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve learned to embrace “self-care”, but not in a spa day or soak in a bath for hours kind of way.
Today, on Live Simply, The Podcast, I’m sharing why we can’t ignore self-care, particularly as women and moms, and how to approach self-care as a practical lifestyle choice.
You can listen to the podcast episodes here on the blog, iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play.
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- Printable Self-Care Action Plan Download
- Episode 014: Renee from Raising Generation Nourished talks about modeling self-care for our children
- Episode 013: Simplify meal planning
- Episode 011: Creating a natural skincare routine with Suzi from Gurl Gone Green
- My Natural Skincare Routine
- (AD) Simplified School Lunch Kit, coupon code: simplelunch
So many of us, myself included, have bought so into the hustle culture of today that we’ve forgotten how to slow down and actually take care of ourselves.
There’s so much on our list on a daily basis. If you’re like me, when you look at all the to-do’s, the easiest thing to cross off is…me. It’s too easy to skip the workout, or stay up extra late night to finish the work project, or skip meals, or keep pushing off that doctor’s appointment we really need because who has time for that right now.
We simply can’t ignore the need to take care of ourselves. We must be intentional about this, because if not, you know what happens: life, kids, all the things. If we continue to keep going, without stopping to refuel and recharge, we will eventually reach the point of being maxed out, snippy at our kids and spouse, and drained. Just like with your car–if you keep going, keep driving, and never stop to refuel it, it’s going to have some issues, and eventually it’s not going to be able to serve its purpose anymore.
We can’t keep doing all the things daily life demands, burning up the gas, without intentionally planning for how we’ll take care our ourselves, and refuel our tank.
My Self-Care Story
After becoming a mom and then creating a blog, which I poured my heart and soul into working on, I stopped taking care of myself. There was too much on my to-do list, and taking care of myself seemed like the obvious thing to cut so I could do more, and be more productive.
I was going to bed around 2-3am in the name of hustling on my passion project. I stopped working out because mommy-hood and building a blog were far more important. I skipped meals because who has time to eat when you have a blog to work on and young children to raise. Did I mention that I had just given birth back-to-back over a two year time period. If there was a time in my life when I should have been more intentional about taking care of my body, now was the time.
Not taking care of myself started to take its toll. The staying up late to work on my blog until 2-3am, the skipping meals, the not feeding myself nourishing meals because I’ll just grab a snack, and the setting aside of things that made feel energized, like exercise. I was burnt out! And as every mama knows, burning out just isn’t an option.
My skin started to break out like never before with cystic acne and I felt tired all the time, and suffered from brain fog.
The acne was my biggest wake-up call because it was embarrassing. I ended seeking help with a medical professional, and found that I was taxing my body big time. My hormones were out of whack–pardon my very professional terminology. Stress, well self-induced stress if I’m honest, was taking a toll. My body was sending little warning signals that it needed attention and care.
I was told, “Your body is taxed! You need to start prioritizing your health and make lifestyle changes.” And you know what I was told? Sleep, feed yourself nourishing meals–stop skipping meals in the name of being too busy, move your body daily, and take time for what you love. Lifestyle changes needed to happen.
Self-care isn’t about being selfish, or some me-first mentality. It’s also not some excuse to get out of work. It’s also not about being indulgent or overspending (actually that’s not self-care, because overspending creates so much stress in our life). Self-care is simply about saying, I’m going to intentionally take care of myself so I’m fueled up for this life I get to live. That’s it. When we do this, we’re better able to serve as a mom, wife, girlfriend, sister, teacher, boss…whatever you’ve been called to in this season of life.
Renee talked about this in Episode 14 of the podcast and I just loved what she said. She mentioned that it’s important for our children to see us taking care of ourselves. Our children learn by example, and if all they see is a stressed-out, frazzled mom who doesn’t take time to slow down and rest, learn to say no, simplify areas of life that are constant stressors, and take time to enjoy life, they’re learning that this is normal and this is what living looks like.
I want my children to learn the value and importance of working hard in life, and also the importance of taking care of themselves in the process. If this is what I want to teach them, I have to model this with my own life. And we need to make sure we are allowing our children to practice this right now, which means not filling our schedules so full that our kids are constantly tired, overstimulated, and undernourished. <–Something that I believe describes too many American children.
So, what does self-care look like? Well, that’s going to be different for each person.
I’ve found that thinking about self-care in terms of 3 lifestyle categories, or lifestyle questions, is helpful. Doing this makes self-care more approachable for everyday life.
Okay, let’s dive into each category, or question to ask.
Category 1: Simplify, How can I simplify my life to promote self-care?
In this category, I think about the areas of life that are regular stressors. How can I simplify these tasks or make them more of a routine so they aren’t such big stressors? How can I make them more enjoyable? For example: laundry used to stress me out! So I thought about what would simplify this activity and implemented a daily laundry routine. Weekday breakfast is another stressor. Mornings are already stressful enough, so I developed a breakfast routine and rotate the same foods over and over again, and also made breakfast prep my focus on Sunday.
While we may not think of simplifying as self-care, I would argue it’s one of the best forms of daily self-care.
Simplifying may look like adding food prep to your weekend, maybe spending a couple of hours in the kitchen on Sunday afternoon, focusing on prepping a few foods that will simplifying meals over the next week: make a few breakfast items or cut veggies for lunches.
Maybe simplifying looks like getting rid of all the toys your kids don’t play with so you’re not constantly stressed out by all the clutter in your home. This may sound silly, but clutter is a huge stressor in our life, and getting rid of the clutter is a major way we can reduce the stress and take care of ourselves, particularly mentally. I go through my kids toys once every few months and bag up anything that hasn’t been played with during that time. I then set the bag in the garage for a few weeks before donating the bag. This applies to more than toys, but everything in your home.
When we simplify our life, we minimize the feeling of overwhelm that so many of us deal with today. And that, my friend, is an incredibly practical way of taking care of ourselves, and our families!
This is the first step to self-care. Because if we don’t deal with this category, it doesn’t matter what we add to our life–a bath, vacation, or spa day–we’re always going to feel burnt out and as though we’re barely surviving this life.
Category 2: Add, What can I add to my life to promote self-care?
I think this is the category that most people usually think about when it comes to self-care. What can you add to your life that recharges and refuels you–mentally, physically, and spiritually.
This is where that bubblebath or manicure may come into the picture.
Here are some ideas from my own life:
- Nightly Skincare Routine
- Nourishing Meals
- Water Bottle (Hydration)
- A Morning Routine
Think about what recharges you. What can you intentionally add to your life that will refuel your tank? Maybe this looks like adding a weekly date night, or purchasing lunch for the kids once a week so you get a break from packing lunches, or getting a manicure once a month, going to therapy, or adding an evening skincare routine to your evening. Maybe this is a bubble bath once a week, gardening, or a workout class. Maybe this looks like adding a movie time in the afternoon for the kids so you can sit and have a few quiet moments during the day or take a shower.
Category 3: Delete, What can I delete or delegate in my life to promote self-care?
Maybe delete is a strong word to use for this category. For this category, I think about what I am doing right now that I don’t need to be doing. What can I say no to? What can I delegate?
For many of us, the reason we’re neglecting rest or exercise or making nourishing meals is because we’re simply too busy. Too busy with a lot of stuff we could probably delete during this season of life.
Our kids don’t need to be involved in every single after-school activity. We don’t need to take on every parent volunteer opportunity at school, while also taking on all the work projects. Hey, if you feel refueled and recharged by these extra life activities, then more power to ya. But for many of us, I think we overload our schedules with so many yeses, because we simply don’t know how to say no. Think about what you can do well right now in this season, on top of the responsibilities you hold that are a must. And say no to the rest.
There are seasons for everything, and saying no to something right now doesn’t mean it will always be a no. Something that has been helpful for me, is giving myself 24 hours to think about something before I say yes or no. If a new opportunity arises, I’ll give myself 24 hours to think about whether this is something I can handle right now in life.
This also means listening to our bodies and knowing when we need to rest.
In this category, I also think about what I can delegate. This means asking for help. Maybe this means trading babysitting with a friend so you and your hubby can enjoy a regular date night, and you take her kids so she can do that same on another night. Maybe this means hiring a house cleaner once a month for a deep clean, or maybe more often, because you realize this is something you can delegate. Maybe this means teaching your kids how to load the dishwasher, and delegating the nightly task of dishwasher unloading to them. Maybe this means sitting down with your spouse and asking for help in a certain area–with taking the kids to school or food prep.
The idea of self-care can feel petty. I hope today’s chat changed that, and made the idea of self-care more practical and tangible. I truly believe the topic of taking care of ourselves is something we need to be thinking about more than ever before. We need to intentionally stop and think about our lifestyle. What can I do right now to simplify? What can I add to my life in order to take care of my body? What can I delete or delegate?