Taking care of yourself ranked fourth in my poll for how to live a happy life with a vote of 25/218. A lot of the categories are beginning to blend together. There needs to be a healthy balance of everything to really live joyfully. So, how do we take care of ourselves?
As a mother, I often find myself taking care of the people around me. Before I know it I’m run down, sick, stressed, and exhausted. I can’t possibly take care of the people I love if I’m not properly taking care of myself. I think it’s super important to know that “no” is ok. It’s good, even. We can’t take on too many things at once, it’ll run us into the ground. Saying “yes” to something good, isn’t good if it takes away from your health and other obligations. Taking on making a fundraiser for the homeless is awesome and noble and if that’s what you’re called to do, that’s great. But it might not be what’s best for you. Say “no” to the things you can’t do and don’t feel bad about it.
I’m a little stubborn. I don’t like asking for help. I definitely don’t like admitting I can’t do something. Humans aren’t made to do things alone, we’re pack animals. I learned while the hubby was gone for work, that it’s good to ask for help. The littlest one (LO) somehow contracted a stomach bug. I still have no idea how it happened, she didn’t go to school. Anyway, she was about two, the hubby was gone, the first one (FO) had to get to school, and I can’t handle anything except vomit. Being so little LO couldn’t tell exactly when she would be sick, so she never made it to the bathroom and our whole house was carpeted. It was a great time. Then FO and I got it. That was fun. I could barely move and still had to take care of sick babies. Despite bleaching every surface in the house, it made the rounds again. I couldn’t take care of the girls, myself, the house, and everything else. I needed help. I sucked it up and asked for help and got what I needed. I was grumping to my friend about needing to ask for her help and she said, “helping people is a blessing. When you refuse help you’re refusing someone else’s blessing.” That struck so hard with me.
I had written briefly about the five love languages for relationships, but they apply to self-care too. Words of affirmations, tell yourself you’re amazing and worth all good things. Encourage yourself. Document the things you love and accomplish. Take pride in who you are. Self-care is a verb. It’s something that needs to be done. Take time to feel good. Draw yourself a bath, dress how you feel confident. Eat healthily and exercise because those things will make you feel good. Giving yourself a present may sound silly, but so often we sacrifice things we want for others. Take that vacation, take a course about something that interests you. Spend time with yourself. If you don’t know who you are, it’s hard to fulfill your needs. You’re an awesome person, get close and personal with yourself. Stretches, massages, spa days, those are all good things to help relax us and release toxins from our bodies.
Don’t just take care of yourself, learn to love yourself. I may not know you, but I can promise you are amazing and you are meant for wonderful things. No one is an accident and everyone has special abilities that make them who they are. Embrace those things, be different, be you. Everyone is in a different place in their journey. If you’re a first-time mom that’s struggling with midnight feedings, don’t compare yourself to the mom of five that seems completely put together. I promise she was there, too. It will seem like there’s always someone better than you, but you’re better than others and more importantly, you’re better than you were. And that’s all you can really try to do. Don’t be someone else, you were meant to be you.
Along the same lines, we tend to be our own hardest critics. It’s important to learn how to forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, learn from them, move on. Don’t drown yourself in shame. Don’t let your past define your future.
Gautama Buddha said, “you can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection.” Keep in mind that you deserve all the good in the world and that you can’t take care of others if you aren’t taken care of. Have fun with the life you’ve been given. Don’t take life too seriously, you won’t make it out alive.
Babauta, Leo. “Zen Habits: Breathe.” Zen Habits RSS, 12 Mar. 2014, zenhabits.net/self-reliance/.
Greenberg, Melanie. “8 Powerful Steps to Self-Love.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 29 June 2017, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201706/8-powerful-steps-self-love.
Hays, Jessie. “30 Ways To Practice Self-Love And Be Good To Yourself.” Lifehack, Lifehack, 3 Jan. 2018, http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/30-ways-practice-self-love-and-good-yourself.html.
Khoshaba, Deborah. “A Seven-Step Prescription for Self-Love.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 27 Mar. 2012, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/get-hardy/201203/seven-step-prescription-self-love.
Marter, Joyce. “Self-Love Must Come First: How to Love Yourself.” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 15 Feb. 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joyce-marter-/selflove-must-come-first-_b_9237282.html.