Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Are you making time for self-care?








"Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel." - Eleanor Brownn


I have learned a lot through our fertility struggles, but one major thing this journey has taught me is the importance of self-care. During any hectic time in your life, it becomes so important to take care of yourself. Whether it's just to get through the stress of everyday tasks, preparing for a big event, or going through something that is life altering, taking the time to focus on you is a crucial part of your well being.

It seems like there is no time to take a long walk, soak in a bubble bath, listen to an encouraging podcast, or meal prep to eat healthier. We tell ourselves that there is too much to get done and self-care acts such as those usually fall to the wayside. We can't imagine taking just one minute to ourselves, when in the long run, taking that time will actually help you function at a higher level. Plus, feeling good helps you to take on those life challenges.

I used to struggle with this a lot. I was always so focused on work, fertility stuff, this blog, house chores, traveling constantly on the weekends.. the list goes on and on. I let the stress of everyday life consume me. I put things that made me happy on the back burner - like cooking, running, and writing. I would get home from work and tell myself there was no time to go running or cook, let alone sit down with a cup of tea and write. Instead, I did more work (like grade papers), and had our meals delivered to our door the majority of the time. 

That routine made me feel burned out, unproductive, and unhealthy…..because I wasn't taking the time to do the things that make me happy. It wasn't until we had 3 failed IUI's that I realized I needed to take a step back and focus on me. That might seem selfish, but how could my body ever get pregnant if it wasn't in a happy place? I was constantly fueling it with stress and anger. I realized that I needed a coping mechanism for this problem.

You can't undo the tasks and responsibilities you have on a day to day basis, but you can figure out a way to include self-care in your life. How? Make a plan in advance. I'm a list maker by nature, so I decided to add every day self-care acts to my daily to-do list. My making these plans in advance, I'm more likely to make time for myself when I get overwhelmed.

My self-care list is personalized for me and the things that make me feel good. Obviously your self-care acts make be totally different, but the most important thing is that you are making time to do them. The idea behind my self-care list is to make life less stressful and more enjoyable. Here are my self-care acts that I try to incorporate into my life:

Daily:

*These are things that I try my best to incorporate on a daily basis. They are always on my list and make a huge difference in my day.

Start the day with warm lemon water
Eat a healthy breakfast
Take Louie on a walk
Do my daily Bible study
Stretch
Use essential oils (lavender is my favorite!)
Drink at least 1/2 gallon of water
Pray
End the day with warm, soothing tea

Weekly: 

*These are the things that I try to incorporate weekly. I don't get to all of them - I pick a few to focus on each week, but I will complete a few more than once - like cooking or running.

Go to a Hot Yoga class
Go for a run
Attend a workout class
Cook a homemade meal
Take a bubble bath
Curl up with a book for a few hours
Put my phone away for the evening
Listen to a podcast
Get a massage
Go to acupuncture
Meet up with a friend
Use my favorite face mask
Sit down to write for at least 30 minutes
Have a date night with Chris - whether it's at home or out

Now, I know what some of you might be thinking….  "you don't have kids, so it's easy for you to incorporate these self-care acts." You're probably right, it might be easier for me to fit them in, but just because you have kids doesn't mean that you can't try to fit self-care acts into your life. It may not be as easy, but stop making excuses!

My best friend has two small children and works full time. When I asked her how she makes time for her exercise (she participates in triathlons), she said that she has to make time for what she enjoys and that she wouldn't be as happy if she didn't make time to exercise. Another friend of mine loves to sew, so when her kids go to bed for the evening, she spends at least 15 minutes sewing. It's her time to herself and she loves it.

Once you start caring for yourself, I promise you'll find that making time for it will become easier.. because you'll love the way it makes you feel. Start with a small list, and add to it as you figure out what works for you and your schedule. However you do it, I promise you won't regret making time for the things that make you feel good! Take care of yourself, friend - you're totally worth it.

PS. 50 Ways to Practice Self Care and The Hardest Decision I've Ever Had to Make