Saturday, September 8, 2018

How to practice self care

Let's talk about one of my favorite topics: self care. I loved to work on this with my clients, but often had difficulty practicing self care in my own life. I struggle with it even more now that I am a mom. Between the endless loads of laundry, cleaning the kitchen for what feels like the twentieth time that week, and trying to spend time with my husband for a few minutes before crashing at night, when am I going to find the time for myself? That right there my friends, is the problem. When you give and give all day long and don't take anything for yourself, you run out of any give you have. You've depleted yourself, and are left empty. I know that I find myself in these moments worn out and frankly, not doing anything really well any more. I become forgetful, tearful, and all around unpleasant to be around. That is burn out. So what is a lady to do? Self care. Let's break it down.

What is self care? The answer is in the name. It is taking care of yourself. It is making time for you to take care of you. When I would tell clients this they would often roll their eyes, but stick with me here. It doesn't have to be big, very time consuming, or expensive. You can start out once a week and over time start carving out time every day for yourself. I like to break self care down into three categories outside of general hobbies: social, physical, and spiritual. Let's explore each of those.

Social: I'm not talking about throwing a party, but simply reaching out to others at least once a week. Think a phone call to a friend or family member (not a text, that's not personal enough), going to a play date held by a women or mom's group in your area, or going for a walk with a neighbor. "No man is an island", we all need social interactions. Take this as an opportunity to spend time with people who enrich you and make you feel good, not to feel obligated. This isn't the time for "I should's" such as "I should call so-and-so". When you fall into that trap, you are falling deeper into compassion fatigue. Who is someone who brings out the best in you? Who takes your mind off of things? Who can talk to you about what you are going through, and help you feel understood? Reach out to them. I practice this by doing exactly what I listed above. I go to a mom's group play date once a week for adult interaction, I call a friend during my daughter's nap time, and I go for walks with friends, strollers in tow.

Physical: I hate running, so don't get it twisted, I'm not telling you to run a marathon. Although if that's your thing, awesome! Do something good for your body once a week. It is our responsibility to care for our bodies, "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies" (1 Cor 6:19-20). Personally, I don't feel great when I eat unhealthy for days on end and give into sloth. I start to feel self conscious, tired, and emotionally weighed down. A few times a week I go for a walk with the stroller, usually at a park, to do something nice for myself. I love to be surrounded by nature, so this works for me. For others this can mean going to the gym, training for a 5k, or yoga in the mornings. Find a physical activity you enjoy doing. Again, it's self care not self flagellation. Try out a few simple, healthy meals from Pinterest. I try to meal plan on the weekends but when I don't get around to it, I keep it simple by throwing something in the crock pot or having my husband grill a lot of meat for the week. We can talk more about meal prep another time.

Spiritual: "For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come" (1 Tim 4:8). I've mentioned this before but when I don't make time for my spiritual health it impacts every aspect of my life. I become uncharitable, impatient, anxious and pessimistic. I struggle the most with carving out time for my spiritual well being, so you are not alone. Yet developing structure into your faith routine is critical. I recently asked some of my friends how they make time daily, weekly or monthly to practice spiritual self care. Here are some of their responses:

- Subscribing to email devotions such as Bishop Barron's daily Gospel reflectionsBlessed Is She or the 1% Challenge
- Going to adoration once a week, scheduling it for the same time and day every week
- Reading a spiritual book such as "I Believe in Love"
- Listening to podcasts such as The Gathering Place or Daily Disconnect
- Reading and reflecting on the daily readings
- Subscribing to The Word Among Us or Living with Christ
- Saying a family rosary every Sunday after mass

Personally, I read the Blessed Is She devotion every day with the daily readings and try to reflect or journal if I have more time. I am going to work on getting more into the Word this year, and have set that goal for myself. I can never seem to wake up early enough to pray before my daughter wakes up so I take advantage of her independently playing or her morning nap. While cleaning I like to listen to a podcast in the background so I can multitask. Try to practice mindfulness and make every day tasks an offering to God. Even a simple, "hey God, thinking of you" is a good place to start. We can get more into mindfulness and how I practice it at a later date.

Start small! Read a chapter of a book, smell how nice your shampoo smells in the shower, or paint your nails. Starting small helps you feel accomplished and less overwhelmed. When first getting started with self care it is important to schedule it out. As in write it on your family or personal calendar, otherwise you won't do it. At the beginning of the week (or month) write down a specific time and day you will do each of those things, and check it off when you complete them. It will feel forced, but all new habits do. After a while you will notice that when you make time for yourself, you have more mental and emotional capacity to meet the other needs you have in your life. How do you practice self care? Let me know.

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