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The dishes linger in the sink. And if the laundry stays another night in the washer, it’s going to get that smell of funk that you can’t wash out no matter what you try. But you’re exhausted. You couldn’t sleep last night from all the tossing and turning and worrying and wondering that you’d done. You’re so tired, you feel you could pass out at any second. But the dishes linger in the sink. And the laundry is in the washer.
Take a nap. The the nap. Take all the naps.
What is about taking five extra minutes in the shower to lather before shaving that we feel guilty about? Why is it that when we feel beautiful we shouldn’t selfie because of the newly minted stereotype that selfies somehow equate to vapid narcissism? Self-care isn’t selfish. And it isn’t spoiling yourself. Self-care for both women and men is necessary, and it reaches far beyond what we simply put into our bodies, or how we exercise.
I’m not sure when the pendulum swung so far in the opposite direction, but here’s a secret for you. Taking a long, hot bath is not a luxury. It’s self-care. And here’s another I’ll let you in on – giving in to your basic needs, isn’t self-care. That’s a God-given right.
Meredith Ethington is the author of ‘Mom Life: Perfection Pending’, and she sums it up as this: “Moms, let’s stop pretending we’re getting self-care when we’re not. For one, it’s damaging to our own well-being: “I had a full 45 minutes to grocery shop alone this morning — so why do I still feel so awful?” It’s also sending the wrong message to those around us: When we label a trip to the drive-thru Starbucks as self-care, our partners will always think this is all we need to refuel and recharge and survive. And we’re subconsciously modeling for our kids that it’s okay, even good, for someone to ignore their needs in favor of everyone else’s.”
So what exactly is self-care? Kristen Suleman is a therapist from Texas and she writes: “If we strip it down, self-care means that we are checking-in with ourselves and meeting ourselves where we are at. When we do this – when we tune into ourselves – we recognize that we have different needs depending on the situation and depending on the day. These check-ins make us more aware of our unique needs, which in turn help us cultivate the practices needed to rejuvenate us day in and day out.”
How do we do that exactly? How do we check in on our own physical and mental well-being and start the process on giving in to actual self-care, not basic, everyday necessities that we’re entitled to? Taking a nap because you’re exhausted is not self-care, but recognizing that you are entitled to taking rest where applicable is. This is how I see it. I, and my body, deserve to be healthy, and my committing to a program that allows for good eating, and smart weight loss is prioritizing myself. That’s self-care. The same goes for your job, your relationship, your challenges with family. You are entitled to walking away from whatever isn’t good for your soul. And giving into these necessities is the sort of self-care that will promote health and longevity for a bright and lively future.
My son and I talked about the things that had been eating away at me since 2020 arrived. Since I left radio. Since I tried to understand what it was that had changed so much inside of me. And what I realized was that the knot I was feeling in my stomach was actually a culmination of thread that makes up the fiber of my being. And somehow, they’d gotten tangled. To really listen to myself, and to really understand what was going wrong, each strand had to be loosened from the ball of problems I’d let become the knot I was feeling and the anxiety it was causing.
As I started to unravel the various strings, it was time to face each one. And as the knot became looser, and the weight inside of me started to lift, I realized that this was self-care. This was finally prioritizing myself, far more than losing weight. It was, in fact, coming to terms with my overall health and what it meant to who I was going to become, and how I wanted to live the next phase of my life.
I’ve stated before, and I will over and over again, that had it not been for my commitment to my health care journey last year, I’m not sure where my mental health would have gone. To have already dealt with seasonal depression, plus the pandemic anxiety, the loss of identity with the giving up of my job, the not seeing my family … had I continued to gain weight (and I had gained 50lbs in a short eight months, imagine how much more I could have packed on), I most likely would have been far worse off emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. My testament to really focusing on losing the weight, and introducing myself to a healthy lifestyle was what truly saved me.
In itself, this was an act of self-care. And it was the bridge I was intending to build on. Others include my relationship with my daughter, who was not adjusting to her life with us here in the sticks. The tumultuous day-to-day landmines that we were consistently dodging while she lived with us full time was waning on her. And me. And the rest of our family. But mainly her. At fourteen, she is on the precipice of defining who she will be for the rest of her life. She is designing her likes, desires, passions, and discovering her talents and goals. Should we have continued to stifle her with daily family drama between her and I, it would have been surely determinantal to her overall development. And the pressure of knowing that was weighing me down in ways I didn’t want to admit. When she finally requested a move to my sister’s, we discussed it as a family and finally gave in as a trial period. In the days and weeks that have gone on since she left, we have forged a incredible bond and she is thriving. The only, only thing that matters is her happiness, and her ability to thrive.
Another strand loosened from the knot inside of me.
Self-care isn’t selfish. For lack of a better cliche, it’s developing the best version of yourself. And it’s conquering that mission by yourself so that you’re not relying on others to make it happen for you. It’s the want and desire to see yourself succeed. To see yourself as the righteous, wonderful, incredible human being you actually are. That’s self-care. It’s not sneaking two extra freezies where the kids can’t see you. It’s not binge watching a show uninterrupted for an hour. It’s what recharges you. What builds you back up. What sets you on the course to being healthy and well. Mind, body, and spirit. It’s giving yourself permission to stop being every single thing every single other person. You can be both – the giver, and also the taker of the things you need to make you feel whole. You can sacrifice for your kids, your spouse, your colleagues, your friends, and your family – but becoming a martyr for their happiness means giving up on the one person who will always be there – you.
So what is self-care?
For me, it’s unravelling the knots that were tied so tightly in the pit of my stomach, every decision felt like it was coming from a visceral place of panic. Self-care meant sticking with my health care routine – giving myself permission to take a jog on my treadmill every day. It meant calling my health care physician and asking for help with my anxiety. It means filling out my intake forms for my new psycho-therapist I start with next month. Self-care is aligning my priorities and my goals, and my dreams and discussing with my spouse so that we’re both drinking off the well of happiness together in our lives – both together and separately.
Self-care isn’t selfish. It’s an exact necessity of your well-being. Take the bubble bath. Read the dirty romance novel. Eat an extra oreo. Book a walk outside with yourself. Learn a new hobby like taking pictures. Figure out what it is you love to do, and then do it. Without reservation, and without apology. Finding your happiness is the self-care worth subscribing to. You deserve it.
Take the nap. And the selfie. And extra time when you run through the next drive-thru for a coffee just for you. Use a bathbomb, and read a book, and make time for just yourself. And while you’re at, you’ll find yourself asking: where have I been all my life?
This week, I’ve started a new weight loss challenge! The Biggest Loser officially begins on Monday, and I’ve learned I needed the incentive to get me back to my previous ways. I was pretty stringent when I was working with the weight loss studio. And now being on my own, it’s way easier to give into temptation, or to eat how I feel like, and not weigh my food, et al. Having the push of a studio (and the money, of course) was really good at making me compliant. So here we are again. I’ve got my number, and my entry fee, and we’re off to the races. DM me if you’d like to know more.
I have to add here – since my sister and I joined this together, she encouraged me to load up on food last week in sort of Last Supper type deal. And did I ever. Holy. I don’t even recall what all this shit was. Just a ton of carbs.
But in all things, as I know my body is in love with the 165 – 170 mark, I was back to my “regular” weight soon after I charted down all this crap.
Homemade enchiladas for the win!
Fun fact – enchilada sauce was made with chicken stock. Who knew it would be that flavourful and delicious (and not super crazy calorie-wise?).
And Jan to the rescue. He and I have a Thursday night routine of Farmboy steak, veggies, soup and bread and omg, I’m drooling thinking about last night’s dinner.
Each morning, I’m still starting my day with my Greek Yogurt, All Natural PB and flavour-infused water shake. And every day, I’m still hankering down to my treadmill. Before I was running/jogging. Instead now, I’ve upped the incline to 5.5 and instead opt for a heavier hike at 4.5km an hour. It seems to burn the same amount of calories without causing my knees to swell. I’m attempting to save the runs for outside once the rain finally pisses off.
This week’s jam –
I’m genuinely addicted to this song. I’ve had it on replay.
Don’t forget – you can join and collab on my Spotify playlist:
As always, you’re encouraged to join my Health Care group on Facebook with like-minded folks who inspire and empower one another on their various journeys. And, yes, I have one of those sites where I get down to my knickers. You can DM for the link.
Sending much love and good vibes for your journey.