The term self-care is being thrown around a lot these days. But what is it really and why does it matter so much? At one of my lowest moments, a dear friend sat me down and told me that I couldn't keep pouring from an empty cup. I needed to take care of me because no one else was going to. How could I keep taking care of everyone around me if I had nothing left to give? Her words hit me like a sledge hammer. I broke in that moment because I knew she was right. Tears welled up...okay, let's be real here, I was ugly crying at this point. I looked at her and simply said, "But I don't have time." Her response? "MAKE time."
Make time...are you freaking kidding me?!? I'm a MOM! How the heck do you expect me to make time to take care of myself, do things that are just for me? You are clearly nuts. Mind you, this is not what I said to her, but I definitely was thinking it. It took me a long time to truly absorb those words and even longer to actually do anything about it. There are still times when I forget to balance this area of my life. It's so hard to do!
It's one of the most beneficial things you can do for your family and yourself, though. When we continually poor more of ourselves into every aspect of our life than we have, eventually we run out of steam. Sooner or later, we become more annoyed with our kids. The dirty socks hubby left by the bed becomes a major source of irritation. Dishes become our worst enemy. Laundry no longer gets folded. Mac & cheese or frozen pizza gets served more and more. Then the guilt starts to set in for not being better, for not doing more. So we push harder. That pushing breeds resentment and a whole host of negative emotions that come through in our body language, our tone of voice, and the actual words we use. It's a vicious circle that can seem never ending.
With regular self-care, this downward spiral can be avoided. The beauty of self-care is it's simplicity. What makes YOU feel at peace deep down in your soul? Making the time, even if it's just half an hour a day, to incorporate these things into your routine can drastically change the way you function. Yoga, reiki massage, art, meditation, cooking, or simply sitting on a park bench are all ways to promote self-care. It doesn't matter what you are actually doing. What matters is how it makes you feel. Sometimes it can take some trial and error to really figure out what works best for you. As you are experimenting, pay attention to your emotions. Do you feel overwhelmed and stressed? Or do you feel calm and rested? Your emotions determine what the best self-care routine looks like for you.
At first, there may be some guilt associated with taking "me time." It's important to remember that it is not selfish or indulgent. The positive effects are worth every second. Patience levels increase. Focus and energy levels increase. Quality interactions with those around you become the norm. When you are fulfilled and at peace, everyone benefits because they see the best parts of you more often. As you begin incorporating self-care, other things may need to be put on hold. Prioritize the most important tasks and find comfort knowing that tomorrow is a new day, one in which you will accomplish more than you did the day before because you are not pouring from an empty cup.