10 SUPER SIMPLE WAYS TO PRACTICE SELF CARE
Here’s the deal. You’re doing the daily scroll, and you see this really inspiring post about why it’s so important to practice self care as a mom.
You think to yourself, YES! Self care should always come first. You continue to ponder throughout your day, and begin to wonder how it’s even remotely possible to prioritize self care.
Because here is what we normally see when we see social media posts about self care (and you can bet your butt that the post you saw was probably in response to a momma out on a day date with herself and a glass of wine and an elaborate microneedling facial and massage).
We see women promoting their skin care, hair care, lose weight fast and protein shakes galore. That little green pill and that one hair conditioner and that one face mask is all you need for the self care of your life.
We see women dressed to the nines in the newest and greatest Amazon wardrobe white dress, with the perfect floppy hat and their kids dressed (somewhat) matchy matchy on their way to church on Sunday with their family hashtag added, of course.
We see lots and lots of beautiful baths, with bath bombs of elaborate colors, bath trays full of Martha Stewart magazines, wine and nail polish.
We see carefully curated gallery walls with specifically chosen art, all level and dust free, with a toddler playing the piano underneath, proclaiming to be living the dream of slow evenings with music.
We see early, early mornings with coffee and devotionals and classical music.
We see perfectly portioned meals made from locally grown, organic vegetables and unbelievably expensive almond butter over some sort of cultured something. And of course, the smoothie to match.
We see toned and tanned bodies, moms of 5 babies, showing stretch marks in their sports bras, lifting weight and drinking water and looking glowy with sweat.
I am at fault. I have posted these photos, one after the next, and wrote the cliche caption about self care. I have fallen victim to the face mask, bath bomb, early morning coffee and gym stereotype.
I am imperfect. I proclaim to prioritize self care without actually showing what self care looks like in the real world. How I actually manage that self care, as a priority, and still manage to do all the other things.
Because the photos that get posted, the outfits that are shared, the captions that preach balance and harmony, don’t acknowledge the nitty gritty dirt work it takes to make them happen.
Nitty gritty dirt work being the actual self care that happens before and after that photo, caption, blog and email ever go out.
Today, as I was driving home from a day gone awry in an effort to help a friend with her own self care, I thought to myself: This. This is the kind of stuff that doesn’t get shared enough. This is why moms feel out of control, less than, not enough, and too small. This is why we feel invisible. Because the actions we take for our true, inward and necessary self care isn’t documented, or even noticed, sometimes even by our own selves.
I took the twenty minutes to really think about what I do every day to practice true self care. And of course, the cliches came to mind – gym, quiet time, healthy food, prayer, etc. And I do do those things. But as I drove, and let my mind wander, I realized – those are actually the REWARDS I gain from prioritizing true self care. These are the things I reap from my own sowing. The prosperous harvest I gain from small, everyday acts of prioritizing myself.
It’s a tricky concept. Prioritizing ourselves. In the beginning, it feels selfish. Shameful, almost. Like we have somehow passed up the opportunity God gave us to care of others in extreme ways. But what gets missed, and why so many women, mothers particularly, battle with emotions like overwhelm, anxiety, burnout, guilt and depression, is that we physically and mentally cannot serve others until we serve ourselves.
Let me repeat. WE CANNOT SERVE OTHERS WHILE NEGLECTING OURSELVES.
If my priority is to raise kind humans, than that must mean I must BE a kind human. Not just expect my kids to be so. To be kind, I have to be a certain way. I have to enact certain principles, be morally driven, and have the TIME, energy and willingness to serve others.
How in the world will I have the time, energy and willingness if I haven’t already served my own innate, primal and necessary needs?
The answer? I won’t. I won’t ever. And I won’t ever begin to be able to until I step back and observe what I am not serving within myself.
And I can promise you, my dear friend, that spa days at home and your Stitch Fix and your farmers market haul is not going to make it so you can serve others better. Though they may, and probably do, spark joy and serve you in many other ways, they don’t feed your inner need for self love.
So what does?
Good question. And while I can’t speak for everyone, I can speak for myself, and the group of friends and family I’m around every single day. And after this deep inner work in the car today, I jotted down a few things I think every woman can, and should, do for self care on the daily.
Better yet. I forced myself to make it free. Cost nothing. Be simple, and something we don’t need to do alone, or carve out time for. Things that can just happen, if and when we prioritize them. And ourselves.
10 Super Simple Ways to Practice Self Care
The sun. Did you know that 42% of Americans are vitamin D deficient? Vitamin D is the vitamin the sun gives us. The actual sun. Not the tanning bed. Not your fake self tanner from Amazon. And not the fluorescent lights in your office. The sun. The sun LITERALLY makes you happy. Sure, there are massive exceptions to this rule. If you live in Washington where it rains constantly, or Alaska in the winter when it’s dark 23 hours a day, you have a legit reason to be literally in the dark. But for the rest of us, it’s a choice we make to not spend time outside. Screens, comfort and ease take over when we stop prioritizing the sun, and when that changes, and we go outside and literally see the sun, we are not only serving our innate need for vitamin D, we are literally inhaling happiness in rays of sunshine.
Gut health. You don’t have to spend $300 at the health food store to practice good gut health. And if you aren’t making your digestive system a priority in your daily life, I can guarantee you’re suffering. Because we all feel better after we poop. Yes, I said it. We all feel better after we poop. Drink water. Drink kombucha. Eat fermented foods. Stop DRINKING sugar. Eat some greens, for gosh sakes. Gut health is not complicated, and is the absolute easiest way to be a healthier human. And I can promise you, you will feel like you’ve won the self care lottery when you have a regular bowel movement every day. It takes the stress out of so many things – public bathrooms, hemorrhoids, and the list goes on. Yes, I said those things. And I am unashamed to tell you that gut health has made my life BETTER.
Flowers. Let’s talk about flowers. They go through so much. Let’s use my favorite analogy, almond blooms, as our example. A tree exists. She exists to bare fruit. She’s planted, she’s watered, she grows. In the winter, she’s pruned way back. She bares no leaves, and is just brown sticks protruding from an unattractive trunk. She’s cut back to almost nothing, and she breathes a sigh of relief. So much less energy for her to exude. She rests, knowing she will grow later. In the spring, she bares leaves. She turns green, and grows! And soon, there are buds, closed, but promising, on her limbs. Summer arises, and the warmth hits her buds and her roots, warming her soul. And those buds turn into the most beautiful blooms you’ve ever witnessed. Thousands upon thousands of them, shining brightly from her. Fall comes soon, and she works hard, taking in minerals and water galore, to produce enough energy to turn those flowers into almonds. Into food. To feed others. And then she lets them fall, and the process begins again. Now if you don’t look at a flower different after than analogy, you should go find an almond tree and hug her. And go find a field and lay down in the bed that is nature.
Sweat. “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands.” Never has Reese spoke more truth than that line in Legally Blonde. Now, before you go and tell me you don’t have the time to work out daily, I want you to know that I’m not recommending you go and get a gym membership and get in the best shape of your life. I’m just telling you to sweat. Literally, sweat. Like those little beads of condensation that happen upon your skin when your heart pumps blood hard enough to make you breath fast and salt and water exits your body through your pores. Sweat. It’s salty and feels SO GOOD as it drips down your face. Sure, you’re going to look utterly ridiculous. We all do. And if you don’t think we all do, you can go tell those girls that make their 21 minute fixes look magical to SUCK IT. Sweating is ugly, and stinky, and soulful. It doesn’t matter if you dance while you make breakfast, do high knees on your way to preschool drop off, or punch the thin air in between your staff meetings. Sweat. Do something until you sweat. The end.
Kiss. Yep, kiss. Kiss your spouse, your mom, your kids, yourself in the mirror. Kiss. Pucker, tongue, I don’t care. But kiss someone. Society can tell us over and over and over again that kissing our kids on the lips is inappropriate all they want. But nothing makes a mother happier than when their child asks for a kiss. The end. My Italian uncles, and my dad, kiss everyone. Actually everyone. And you know what? No one has ever told my dad that they felt like it was inappropriate. Because it isn’t. It’s not like he’s kissing his employees or some stranger on the street. He’s kissing from a loving place, and in a way that exudes a teddy bear kind of love. An action that portrays extreme care, kindness and respect for others. Kissing makes you happy. It makes others happy. Don’t kiss strangers, and don’t kiss weird people, and please, for the love of God, don’t kiss your coworkers or you’ll be sued for harassment. But kiss the people you love. Often. And unashamedly.
Water. Drink it. Swim in it. Watch it whirl around your yard from the sprinkler. Marvel at its ability to keep the world afloat. Literally. Afloat. Water is the actual lifeblood we live by. Ever wonder why children love water so much? Every child loves water. Splashing in the tub. Sliding down the water slide. Playing the pool with 3 inches of sandy water. Walking through puddles and catching raindrops on their mouth. Why? Because water is innocent. Water just… exists. No shame. No agenda. No complicated process to become itself. It just IS. And kids, somehow, know that. Water is innocent, life giving and magical. So go drink some. Stop at the bridge and watch the river flow for a second. Take off your shoes and splash in a random puddle. Cook some pasta in it, boil an egg, or simply fill up your sink and run your hands through it. Water. It’s so simple.
Hold a baby. Whomever says they don’t like children has simply just not been around enough of them. In my honest opinion. Because I used to be one of those people. Here’s what happens when you hold a baby: you forget about your own insecurities. The life that you’re holding is someone else’s entirely. Your own agenda, abilities and agonies are put aside because this small human needs you to pay attention. Sure, it might feel awkward and uncomfortable and unnatural. But I feel that way when I try to do my winged eyeliner. And that doesn’t serve my soul at all. Holding a baby takes all the pressure off of you, and leaves it behind. If you don’t have babies, or have friends with babies, or live near your sister with 6 kids, here’s what you do: In your daily errands. I can PROMISE you, you can and will find a mom that needs someone to help her. Offer to hold the baby. There is no pressure here, friend. You are serving someone else IN AN EFFORT to serve yourself, too. Don’t be weird, just be authentic. And that mom that is trying to reach the bagels on the top shelf at the grocery store and hold her 8 month old on her hip could use a moment. Help her do it and hold the baby for the 6 seconds it will take her to get the bagels she wants. Smile, and walk away. The end. Hold a baby.
Talk to an adult. I’ll keep this one short. If you’ve been around your kids all day, you need to have an adult conversation in order to feel like a human being. Scroll through your contacts and set a timer for 10 minutes and CALL AN ADULT and have a conversation with someone that speaks in full sentences with very little “ums” followed by a snack request. Talk to an adult.
Stop looking at your phone. You guys, this is all I have to say about this, because you know it’s true. Put. Your phone. Away.
Do something that is not on your to-do list. For us OCD, Type A peeps, especially mothers, our to-do list is gold. It cannot and will not be strayed from. But what happened to the spontaneity of life? What happened to literally opening the sunroof and taking the long way home? It becomes easy to follow our list. It keeps us on track. Holds us accountable. But what if that list doesn’t spark joy? Doesn’t serve our primal needs as a human being? Do something that isn’t on your list, every single day. Stop for an ice cream. Watch Friends instead of doing the dishes during nap time. Sleep for an extra 20 minutes. Write a letter to a friend. Plant a flower. Plant a garden. Read your book. Do something spontaneous.
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