Sunday, July 17, 2011

What exactly is self-care anyway?

When I  refer to self-care I had always assumed that people knew what I was talking about- until recently.  Last week, I facilitated a coaching workshop with a Mom's Group in Baltimore.  As the topic of self-care came up, one of the woman stopped the discussion to ask what exactly self-care was.  She went on to say that it was a topic she had only heard of recently but didn't understand exactly what IT was. Was self-care brushing your teeth?  Getting a massage? Maintaining a health weight?

Yes, yes and yes!

You often hear me (and other helping professionals) talking about the importance of self-care.  You absolutely MUST take care of yourself if you are in a care-taking role. Nourishing yourself first will ensure that you are in the proper physical and emotional space to be the best mother, wife, friend, career woman, daughter and sister that you can possibly be.  Without self-care, you will quickly run out of steam, become "snappy," resentful and down right exhausted. You will lose your mojo!

So let's back up a bit...

What exactly is self-care anyway?

In my mind self-care is broken into two distinct parts:
-Basic self-care
-Soulful self-care

Basic self-care are all the tasks associated with making sure that you are well taken care of physically.  These very basic things that you haven't given much thought about all of your life until you are stretched beyond belief as a mother and find them difficult to fit in. As I think about this list I chuckle, because as basic as they are, many a days I went without as mother of young children.
-Brushing your hair
-Brushing teeth (flossing is optional for your first year of motherhood)!
-Proper nutrition (puffs and mac-n-cheese don't count)
-Exercise (even if it is a walk or a few push-ups and sit-ups)
-Annual pap smears
-Regular dental and vision check ups
-Regular physical exams
-Adequate sleep
-Staying on top of any medical issues

Soulful Self-Care is different from person to person.  This type of self-care is unique to your needs and preferences.  First, you must figure out what it is that feeds your soul.  What makes you feel relaxed, inspired, peaceful and happy?  Having trouble remembering?  Has it been that long?  Think back to your pre-mom days...what did you do with your "me time?"  What do you enjoy so much that you lose track of time? Are you an introvert who finds comfort in curling up on the couch with a good book?  Are you an extrovert who thrives on meeting friends for a night out on the town? Still having trouble?  The possibilities are endless, but try scanning this list and pay attention to any response your body is giving you. What feels good to you?

-Fixing your hair/make-up/wearing clothes that make you feel good
-Team sports/gym/fitness
-Social events
-Date night
-Happy hour
-Learning a new skill/hobby
-Bubble baths
-Volunteer work
-Other ideas???

Whatever it is that strikes your fancy, do it, and do it often.  I know it is hard to fit in, I know there will be guilt associated with taking the time to do it. But it is an absolute must.  You need to frequently step away from your duties as a mother to reconnect with who you are as a woman.  These breaks will give you a fresh perspective on all other aspects of your life and responsibilities.  Make it a priority to fill your tank so you can continue to be the best YOU possible. Motherhood is a marathon, not a sprint, and you need to be in your best, tip- top shape to complete your journey (so you are not completely breathless and collapsing before the finish line)!

What can you incorporate into your life this week even if it is small scale to start?  Put it on the calender and treat it as any other non-negotiable appointment.

Happy YOU!


  1. I suck at basic self care to be honest. Showers are too sporadic, but my biggest failing is eating well. I just don't care enough to stop and make food, I always prioritize something else above that. And yes we all suffer from my low blood sugar swings! I'm pretty good about indulging in book-reading and blog-reading, they take precedence over a lot of things, especially in the summer. Finished two novels in the last week :).

  2. So for you...self care comes in the form of a good book instead of a clean body or regulated blood sugar! I suppose if it works to keep you happy then go for it! Maybe just keep some snacks in your pocket so the mood swings don't sneak up on you.